Majestic Restaurant's extravagant lobster mooncake
Time to dust off your lanterns, roll out your best Chinese teas, and get your moonshades on: the Mid-Autumn Festival is right around the corner.
Every year, hotels and restaurants in Singapore dust up a big flour storm to come up with innovative traditional and snowskin mooncake combinations, to be presented in striking boxes. And every year, they outdo themselves; this year is no different.
Traditionally eaten on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, the ‘Night of the full Moon’ (30 September this year), these dense, tender-skinned cakes can now be consumed months before the actual day. Borne out of a legend that involves Chang-e, a lady who swallowed a pill that flew her to the moon, the tradition of admiring the moon is a tribute to this Moon Goddess of Immortality.
Mooncakes have taken a life of their own: perhaps the most famous use of mooncakes was demonstrated in the 14th century when Chinese revolutionaries used the cakes to smuggle secret messages to each other, in their quest to overthrows the Mongol government.
Mooncakes come in all shapes, sizes and flavours these days, are eaten as treats and given as a sign of respect ― Chinese families offer boxes of this dessert to their elders. Singapore has possibly the most varied selection of mooncakes in the world, a selection that just gets bigger every year. For instance, on top of all the varieties already out there, this year sees the addition of ham-and-cheese, lobster, bak kwa (Chinese dialect for 'meat jerky') and Angry Birds mooncakes.
|To view this story in pictures, go to:The complete guide to mooncakes 2012|
Baked matcha mooncakes
Making a debut this year in their premium range is the Japan-inspired, green tea single-yolk traditional mooncake (six for $88) with a mild matcha flavor. The bitter and the sweet match well to create a well-rounded taste that is nicely washed down with a cup of Chinese tea. This mooncake has one of the prettier crusts we have seen.
You might also want to try: Their mini green tea mooncake encased in pastry skin (four for $19.80).
BreadTalk | Address: #01-23 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, and other locations | Tel: 6334 4644 | Opening hours: Daily 8am–10.30pm | Until 30 Sep
Liquor truffle snowskins
Liquor truffles take centre stage in these lotus paste snow-skin mooncakes. The truffles let out heady aromas and in-depth flavours of brandied cherries, pink Champagne, rum and raisin or single malt whisky (eight for $52, two pieces of each flavour).
You might also want to try: The sweeti-ish mung bean snowskins - they contain a whole crunchy chestnut within (eighth for $52).
Bakerzin | Address: #B2-08-04 Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Road, and other locations | Tel: 6733 7672 | Opening hours: Daily 10am–9.30pm| Available 30 Aug–30 Sep
New this year is the pandan snow-skin with a tangy burst of pineapple chutney packed in a thin shell of white chocolate (eight for $50). This is wrapped with fragrant pandan lotus paste and pineapple crunch. A blissful attack on the senses.
You might also want to try: Carlton’s all-time bestsellers, the walnut moontarts (eight for $52).
Carlton Hotel | Address: Lobby, Carlton Hotel, 76 Bras Basah Road | Tel: 6349 1292 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–9pm | Available 24 Aug–30 Sep
|Three-layered mooncake with coconut-lotus paste egg yolk and |
black sesame paste
Traditional with a twist is what Cherry Garden does best, and their three-layered traditional mooncake this year, with coconut lotus paste, egg yolk and black sesame paste is making a debut (four for $60).
You might also want to try: The black snow-skinbamboo charcoal mooncake with chocolate truffle and oolong tea paste(eight for $64).
Cherry Garden | Address: Mandarin Oriental, 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, and booths all over the city | Tel: 6885 3541 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–9pm | Through 30 Sep
Champagne ganache truffle in pandan snow-skin
Crowne Plaza’s all-time favourite mini snow-skin has a hint of pandan, wrapped around a luxurious chocolate truffle that holds decadent Champagne ganache. It has a tingly effect on your tastebuds (seven for $52).
You might also want to try: The brand new and oh-so-pink strawberry paste with rose chocolate snowskin. Very girly, and super sweet, if you like it that way (seven for $52).
Crown Plaza | Address: Lobby lounge, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, 75 Airport Boulevard | Tel: 6823 5300 | Opening hours: Daily 9am–9pm daily | Available 28 Aug–30 Sep
|Unconventional skinless mooncakes|
CRITIC’S PICKCrystal Jade
Yogurt pudding 'mooncakes'
A nice change from the regular heavy offerings are these skinless yogurt pudding desserts that set to a refreshing jelly-like texture. They come in four fruity flavors - mixed berries, mango, apple and nata de coco (four for $22). Best consumed chilled.
You might also want to try: The savoury and slightly spice conpoy paste traditional mooncake ($38 for eight pieces)
Crystal Jade My Bread | Address: #B2-22 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, 391 Orchard Road| Tel: 6512 0800 | Opening hours: Daily 10am–10pm daily | Available 27 Aug–30 Sep
Goodwood Park Hotel
Fruity flavours rule ― these to be exact: a bright red blood orange with banana (rich in colour and anti-oxidants), classic mango with pomelo, D24 durian Paste and cempedak (jackfruit) paste are Goodwood Park’s freshest graduates (four for $52).
Goodwood Park | Address: Deli Counter, Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road, and booths all over the city | Tel: 6730 1867 | Opening hours: Daily 9am–9pm | Until 30 Sep
Hua Ting Restaurant
Blushing red snowskins
Have these mini snow-skins chilled for maximum taste ― these beetroot mooncakes are infused with red wine and cranberry paste ($7.50 each). Sceptical? The antioxidant level itself will put a blushing glow on your cheeks.
You might also want to try: The new white lotus custard with hazelnuts ($17 each) ― the egg yolk centre has been replaced with custard.
Hua Ting Restaurant | Address: Mooncake booth, Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Road | Tel: 6739 6577 | Opening hours: noon–8pm | Available 1–30 Sep
|Crunchy, with a hint of coffee|
CRITIC’S PICK Jia Wei Chinese Restaurant
Mocha mooncake set with tea
The mini crunchy royaltine made with mocha paste and feuilettine (praline with crisp oven-baked pancake bits) is rich, dark and robust in flavour and texture. A set (eight for $58) comes with a box of three-year-aged Pu-erh tea.
You might also want to try: The mini orange snowskins ($7 each; eight for $56) and the new mini coffee mocha (price unavailable).
Jia Wei Chinese Restaurant | Address: Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel, 50 East Coast Road, Roxy Square, and booths all over the city | Tel: 6340 5677 | Opening hours: Daily 10am–10pm | Available 24 Aug–30 Sep
Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant
Nutritious green tea traditional mooncakes
This Cantonese marries nutrient-rich green tea with black sesame lotus seed paste, and peppers it with crunchy olive seed bits in a baked mooncake (four for $53).
Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant | Address: Sheraton Towers Singapore, 39 Scotts Road, and booths all over the city | Tel: 6839 5636 | Opening hours: Daily 11:30am–10:30pm | Available 27 Aug–30Sep
Baked lobster mooncakes
This is as unconventional as they come. Chef Yong takes a traditional oven-baked mooncake and creates a filling of dried lobster meat and crunchy mixed nuts such as almonds, walnuts, melon and olive seeds; the mixture is then infused with lobster oil (four for $56).
You might also want to try: For the less adventurous, the Kwai Feh lychee liquor mini snowskin comes flavoured with red wine (eight for $48).
Majestic Restaurant | Address: Lobby, New Majestic Hotel, 31–37 Bukit Pasoh Road | Tel: 6511 4700 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–10pm | Until 30 Sep
Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant
Expand your palate with the cheese, nuts and jamón ibérico (Spanish ham) mooncake, with the mixed nuts and ham pairing perfectly. The mooncakes (four for $62) are baked to a golden hue.
You might also want to try: The mini snowskin cheese with citrus (eight for $56) that make a salty-sour debut this year.
Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant | Address: Mooncake booth, lobby, Orchard Wing, Mandarin Orchard, 333 Orchard Road | Tel: 6831 6320 | Available 24 Aug–30 Sep
|To see pictures of all the mooncakes, go to:The complete guide to mooncakes 2012|
Man Fu Yuan Tea Hut
Creamy, coconut-y king of fruit snowskins
Definitely not for the faint-hearted, the velvety snow-skinned Mao Shan Wang durian mooncake with coconut has the fruit’s distinct bittersweet flavour (four for $54).
You might also want to try: The signature high-mountain sweet potato mooncake with Champagne chocolate (eight for $49.80), green tea paste with dragonball jasmine tea, lotus with macadamia nuts, and sesame paste with white sesame seeds (combination of four for $51.80).
Man Fu Yuan Tea Hut| Address: InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road, and booths all over the city | Tel: 6825 1062 | Opening hours: Daily noon–9pm | Through 30 Sep
Tea and flower snow-skins
Ancient oriental recipes are being reinvented - there is a Hakka lei cha ('thunder tea') in pandan snow-skin that is distinctively nutty with a green tea-like sweetness. Others use flowers like rose with purple glutinous rice in yam snowskin, and sweet osmanthus in osmanthus snowskin (eight for $48).
You might also want to try: The red dates with wolfberries in strawberry snowskin (eight for $48).
Selected Taste Paradise, Paradise Inn, Seafood Paradise | Address: Taste Paradise, #04-07 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, and booths all over the city | Tel: 6509 9660 | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am–9.30pm | Until 30 Sep or online from www.paradisegroup.com.sg
Of dim sum chef Kerene Cheng’s four special mooncake flavours (eight for $56.80) ― sweet, sour, spicy and bitter ― we like the white lotus paste ones flavoured with osmanthus flower for its delicate balance of flavours and complexion-improving properties.
You might also want to try: Mooncakes that are low in sugar for health-conscious eaters. There is also a super healthy baked mini mooncake, which has organic oats, nuts and dried fruit, instead of yolk, in lotus paste (eight for $58).
Peach Blossoms| Address: Level 5, Marina Mandarin, 6 RafflesBoulevard | Tel: 6845 1118 | Opening hours: Daily 10am–7pm | Available 27 Aug–30 Sep
|Limited edition Angry Bird snow-skins at Peony Jade Restaurant|
CRITIC’S PICK Peony Jade Restaurant
Angry Bird snowskins
These are the world’s first 3D Angry Bird mooncakes: four different birds, each looking angrier than the last, are fun and playful takes on this traditional festival food. The velvety egg custard filling and a crust made of natural fruit flavour is also great for introducing kids to mooncakes. Most importantly, there are only 3,000 boxes of these birds to go around, so book yours now.
Peony Jade Restaurant | Address: #02-02, Blk 3A Clarke Quay | Tel: 6338 0305 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–6pm | Available 3–30 Sep or at www.pjmooncake.com
Limited edition durian snowskins
Prima Deli has two pungent and creamy durian delights: making a debut is a limited edition Mao Shan Wang snow-skin ($16.95 each), paired with lotus paste and with a hard-to-beat milky bittersweet taste. For something less creamy and indulgent, there is a D-24 durian snowskin ($11.70 each),
You might also want to try: The mini oreo-chocolate mooncake ($9.95 each). Kids will love this one.
Prima Deli | Address: #B3-48, [email protected], 313 Orchard Road, and other locations | Tel: 6276 3333 | Opening hours: Daily 8am–10pm | Until 30 Sep
Imagine passionfruit cocktails, banana splits and sparkling Champagne ― Raffles Hotel interprets summer in their new and perennial snow-skin offerings. There is a brand new banana Passion snowskin ($60 for eight) and an effervescent Champagne truffle ganache wrapped in white lotus paste ($64 for eight).
You might also want to try: A dark chocolate with crunchy chocolate pearl snowskin ($60 for eight).
Raffles Hotel | Address: Mooncake shop, 1 Beach Road | Tel: 6577 8888 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–6pm | Available 10 Aug–30 Sep or online at www.raffleshotelmooncakes.com
Resorts World Sentosa
White butter skins
The unusual, pale and crumbly white butter skin with pandan sweet corn paste traditional mooncake is Feng Shui Inn’s offering. These unique cakes have a soft crust with single yolk and fragrant pandan-ish paste (four for $45).
You might also want to try: The super nutritious bird’s nest snowskin (eight for $68).
Resorts World Sentosa | Address: Level G2, Crockfords Tower, Resorts World Sentosa, and other locations | Tel: 6577 8888 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–6pm | Available 29 Aug–30 Sep
|Chicken jerky mooncakes|
CRITIC’S PICKSingapore Marriott Hotel
Peach Choya and bak kwa mooncakes
The light and fresh peach Choya praline snow-skin (eight for $56) was developed for the ladies - testing began at least six months prior and a panel of food critics were roped in to give comments. The men have one too: a strong chocolate and whiskey praline (eight for $58).
You might also want to try: Mixing sweet, savoury and meaty flavours is the chicken bak kwa with assorted nuts and white lotus seed paste baked mooncake (four pieces for $62). Marriott has prior to this done bak kwa cookies too, so they do know their stuff, and pull it off with these mooncakes ― the bak kwa is fragrant and perfectly glazed.
Singapore Marriott Hotel | Address: Forecourt shop, Singapore Marriott Hotel, 320 Orchard Road, and booths all over the city | Tel: 6831 4708 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–9pm | Available 24 Aug–30 Sep
Traditional and good for your heart
This year’s theme is ‘longevity’, and the traditional white lotus seed and dried longan mooncakes (six for $42) help fortify the heart and spleen. The inclusion of wolfberries raises the level of antioxidants and promotes good vision. The natural sweetness of the longans and wolfberries, and the crunchiness of the seeds, makes these mooncakes very pleasing.
Summer Pavilion | Address: 3/F Ritz-Carlton Millenia, 7 Raffles Avenue, and other locations| Tel: 6337 8888 | Opening hours: Daily 11am–9pm | Available 28 Aug–30 Sep
Executive pastry chef Ryan Witcher has created this indulgent treat using only top-grade durians: a true delight for all who enjoy the pungent taste (and smell). The custard-like fresh durian paste is enveloped in a soft glutinous rice crust, creating a chewy texture similar to that of Japanese mochi (eight for $62).
You might also want to try: The contemporary dark chocolate orange grand marnier snow-skin mooncake (eight for $58); an elegant blend of dark chocolate, lotus paste, infused with orange liqueur.
SweetSpot | Address: Hotel Tower 3, Marina Bay Sands, 1 Bayfront Avenue | Tel: 6688 5668 | Opening hours: Daily 9am–7pm | Available 24 Aug–30 Sep
|Crisp, flaky mooncakes - |
CRITIC’S PICKTeochew City Seafood Restaurant
These super crisp and flaky mooncakes look and taste a little like popular local dessert orh-nee (Teochew for 'taro paste'). The mooncakes (nine for $33) are filled with yam paste and a single egg yolk.
Teochew City Seafood Restaurant | Address: #05-16, The Centrepoint, 176 Orchard Road | Tel: 6733 3338 | Opening hours: Daily 10am–3pm, 6–10pm | Until 30 Sep
TWG Tea Salon and Boutique
With names such as Constellation, Moonlight, Desire and Immortal, TWG’s mooncakes are fantastical. When chilled at the right temperature, these tea-tinged traditional and snowskin fantasy-cakes come alive on your tastebuds. The golden Constellation baked mooncake is infused with Singapore breakfast tea, roasted melon seeds and an embedded salted egg yolk heart (four for $48).
TWG Tea Salon and Boutique | Address: #02-21 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, and four other locations | Tel: 6735 1837 | Opening hours: Daily 10am–9.30pm | Available 30 Aug–30 Sep
Hand-crafted Cantonese snow-skins
This year, Yan Ting draws inspiration from comfort flavours ― pandan, coffee, chocolate, sesame and chestnut are the new flavours to try. Their bestseller so far is however the almond snowskin with Advocaat egg liqueur (a Dutch liqueur, like custard) truffle and black sesame paste (eight for $66.80).
You might also want to try: The chocolate infused snow-skin mooncake with dark chocolate paste and white chocolate Champagne. Luxe with a Champagne truffle centre (eight for $66.80).
Yan Ting | Address: Level 1U, St. Regis, 29 Tanglin Road, and two other locations | Tel: 6506 6887 | Opening hours: Daily 10am–9:30pm | Available 1–30 Sep
|To see pictures of all the mooncakes, go to:The complete guide to mooncakes 2012|
Priyanka Chand Agarwal has worked in PR and marketing in start-ups of all sizes, while secretly harbouring dreams of becoming a chef and a writer. An avid reader, foodie and fashion eavesdropper, she will travel for a good cup of coffee, but these days she draws the line at mooncakes.
Formerly food & drink editor at Time Out Singapore magazine, Celine Asril's other previous incarnations include food blogger, cook, and food photographer's assistant. The avid WWOOFer and Twitter-jointed writer has been published on CNNGo, Forbes Travel and in Asian Gourmet and Smile magazine. She is now adding edible codes to inSing.com. Follow her work twitter feed at @inSingFood.