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Laurel is a family-focused Cantonese restaurant on the second floor of Starworld Hotel, Macau. Guests have to walk past a corridor paved with thick red carpet and lined with chandeliers overhead to enter the main dining area. The interior is more or less akin to most traditional Chinese restaurants in Macau, featuring white tablecloths, black leather chairs, carved wood furniture and various pots of greenery, which gives the space a bright, natural and comforting vibe. However, noises are likely to bounce off the hard surfaces if you visit during lunch hours and weekends, and you may find yourself surrounded by rowdy and boisterous customers.
The menu at Laurel comprises a range of Cantonese classics. We started the meal with a half portion of their signature Laurel pig’s knuckles in pot. The knuckles are braised until soft and tender, with each collagen-rich piece absorbing the thick and dense marinated sauce; it is a rather impressive rendition of a classic dish. However, pan-fried cabbage mixed with minced shrimp is comparatively disappointing as we expected the minced shrimp to be springier and the batter far more crisp. The braised abalone tastes only mediocre in terms of flavour and can hardly justify the price tag of MOP$550 each. For dessert, we chose the double-boiled sweetened Indonesian bird’s nest with almond and coconut sauces. While it is understandable that the bird’s nest itself is tasteless, still the dish tasted very bland even with the helping of the almond and coconut bases. We reckon the dessert definitely needs more sweetness, and cooking the bird’s nest in the flavoured base instead of cooking and serving them individually would better bring out the flavours.
Although there is a sizeable wine cellar in the restaurant, by-the-glass options are not available on the menu. It is particularly heavy on French wines, with vintages priced from MOP268 all the way up to MOP24,888 from heavyweight wineries such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Latour.
While service is generally patient and friendly, we found it quite hard to get the attention of wait staff even when we visited in the afternoon. All in all, the staff here lack the aplomb that a five-star hotel restaurant should possess.
A sumptuous lunch for two costs around MOP1,600, which we find on the expensive side given the variable quality of food and service.