This year we went around sampling mooncakes for 2013. The usual suspects came up tops but there's a few new flavours that surprised us, especially in the snowskin varieties where there is no bounds in creativity. Here we go!
After tasting a few baked versions, Regent's hotel one gotta stand out. Their offering of parma ham with assorted nuts is on it's own special level. The range of their snowskin Granny Smith apple with lemongrass chocolate and Pearl Milk Tea Crunch was great, together with their perennial favourite Black Sesame. And this is not all, we have finally found one Bird's Nest mooncake that can rival that of Shangri-La's. A close fight. Regent's variety of mooncakes is great if you need to impress. Your mother-in-law for instance.
The champagne truffle snowskin still remains one of the top one around, even with many other offering the same version. It is this little taste that lingers even after you swallow the last mouthful that sets it apart. Try the new kaffir lime and rum&raisin versions which is worth a mention.
As mentioned, their bird's nest with custard. Decadent, but oh-so-good.
The good people at Smoulders may be best known as soft-core bakers for their bite-sized molten lava cake, but they make pretty kick-ass mooncakes too. The signature dark chocolate remains tops but you have gotta try the raspberry version for that refreshing kick!
You can never be tired of their snow-skin mooncakes. Our favourite is still the chempedak and pinkguava versions. Refreshing and very intense on the flavours.
The Earl Grey with Chocolate ganache is a nice surprise! Refreshing and rich at the same time, it is also red in colour. Best suited for a auspicious gift! The Mung Bean with orange ginger, chocolate with almond (rocher) and Japanese green tea with red bean (best green tea mooncake in our opinion) is worth a taste too!
You may think we have forgotten a few of the always talked about mooncakes... here it goes by categories!
Teowchew Yam Paste Mooncakes
This had been the talk of the town since it was introduced in the late 1980s. So who has the best yam version?
Our take is Xin Cuisine by Holiday Inn and Long Jiang versions is the best. Apparently the original creator Master Chef Wong Heng Ah is now helming Long Jiang. Both tasted awesome although Xin's version is a little crunchier than Long Jiang's. Both taste best when served warm. The trick is to let the mooncake sit at room temperature after taking it out from the fridge before you slightly toast it.
Durian Snow Skin Mooncakes
We had to arrange a separate session just to taste the durian mooncakes on offer because there was too many of them! (and it affects the tastebuds after a few sampling). Our verdict, Home's Favourite and Goodwood Park stands tall amongst the spiky flavour. Home's Favourite takes the cake with 7 (yes, SEVEN) different varieties for you to choose from.
They have pretty interesting flavours and surprisingly tasty and refreshing. Some noteworthy mooncakes are listed below
Apple walnut mooncake - tasty and very fruity!
Pomelo mooncake - very zesty!
The jujube (which represents the paste from black dates) collection was a little too strong tasting for us. Perhaps with a lighter hand in the ingredients would have complemented the series.
They have a special snowskin series of mooncakes made not from paste, but from chocolate mousse. Without a doubt there were many interested in tasting their mooncakes. Interesting taste and sweet, but from the expressions on their faces we could tell some prefer the traditional snowskin mooncakes. Nevertheless, its an interesting mooncake to try this year.
Kudos to TWG for having a whole mooncake coated in gold. Works perfectly for marketing and makes a great gift.
Baker's Well Mooncakes
This was an interesting find. Marketed as Authentic Nonya Delicacy, we had to give it a try, especially with interesting flavours too.
Worthy of mention is the Snowskin Mooncake with Champagne Truffle. The dash of champagne was truly sufficient for a good taste.
The Salted Black Sesame Truffle mooncake uses sea salt to ensure the flavour was not too salty. Combined with the usual sweetness of mooncakes, it was quite a harmony.
The Green Tea Truffle mooncake uses just sufficient matcha tea to give a thumbs up for their effort
The baked mooncake with Pure White Lotus Paste and Macademia nuts was surprisingly good despite the fact the "yolk" was white and not yellow. However nice, it somehow doesn't fulfil the mooncake experience.
At the end of the tasting, nonya or not, the mooncakes were delicious!
D'Bun Mini Oreo Cheese Blueberry Snowskin mooncakes were well made and well thought of. Nothing goes wrong with Oreo Cheesecakes. Combining it with blueberry rounded off the taste to a fruity and sweet snowskin dessert which is perfect for children.
Their mini Green Tea Snowskin mooncake was sufficiently strong tasting and suits any green tea lovers.
Lastly the mini Japanese Azuki Bean and White Lotus Snowskin mooncakes were delightfully refreshing after all the sweetness during the tasting. Highly recommended amongst the other red bean mooncakes available.
Kwong Cheong Thye Mooncakes
Not many people were queuing unlike the other more famous names out there. We were happy to give them a try and we would say its a real good mooncake!
Our recommendation for Kwong Cheong Thye would be their light tasting Green Tea Mooncake and their Strong and well mixed Red Bean Orange Peel mooncake. Coffee lovers can finally find a nice coffee mooncake worthy to give their caffeine a boost. The Matcha Longan Mooncake comes with a green tea paste base, but that seemed to have been over the top a little. The Honey Purple Potato is also a must try from them!
Zi Wan Lou Mooncake
Their strong positioning put across was their low sugar mooncakes. Do note that low sugar and sweetness are two different things and Zi Wan Low has achieved both.
Their Mini Snow Skin Mint & Whiskey Chocolate with White Lotus Seed Paste (Low Sugar) was the best in the tasting. The Mint after taste comes as a surprise after the happiness in Whiskey and Chocolate mix. A real good aftertaste in this mooncake
The Mini Snow Skin Blueberry and Orange Cheese, Nuts and White Lotus Seed paste (Low Sugar) will also give other cheese or blueberry mooncakes a run for their money. Nicely collaborated taste with the flavours!
Others worth a mention
Dynasty's Purple Sweet Potato version and Black Sesame are both vegetarians, is uncommon and tasty
InterContinental's Pulot Hitam Snow Skin is very special!
On a general note, green tea mooncakes have several versions.
One version would be the green tea being brewed and eventually the tea is mixed into the ingredients to make the paste
The other version would be to use the Japanese green tea matcha powder as part of the ingredients
The third version is to use chemically manufactured green tea taste as the ingredient.
Needless to say, the third would taste the most artificial
Note: All mooncakes were tasted on our own cost or at the booths at the various mooncake road shows. No official media release notes were referred to and all the opinions are of the authors.
Photo credits: All photos are taken off the official website of the various vendors. Please refer to their respective websites for full information.