This year, I sampled mooncakes from 41 establishments (see the bottom for a list of the establishments). From each establishment, I ate 2 to 8 flavors. Let’s say I tried an average of 3.5 flavors. That makes it 144 mooncakes! There goes my hourglass figure.
Since I tried so many, I notice a trend this year: (1) passion fruit, (2) mango, (3) osmanthus, (4) pandan, and (5) the rise of Teochew mooncakes.
In no particular order, these are the best:
Best Traditional Mooncake
Li Bai 李白 (Sheraton Towers)
The first bite of Li Bai’s traditional mooncake runs through my memory, bringing me back to my childhood days of carrying paper lanterns in a playground of a dragon. In them, I taste nostalgia. $63 onwards for a box of 4.
Mei-Xin 香港美心月饼, and Kee Wah 奇华
I don’t like Hong Kong food, they are too traditional (boring), too oily, and one-dimensional. I am surprised to find myself liking these two brands from Hong Kong. On hindsight, for mooncakes, being traditional works. Mei Xin $43 onwards, Kee Wah $50 onwards. Kee Wah is available only at Takashimaya fair (7 Aug-8 Sept). Enquiries: 9005 8118, email@example.com
Best Traditional Mooncake with a Twist
Mooncake festival is the most profitable Chinese holiday in Singapore, even more profitable than Chinese New Year. And SQ wants a piece of the
pie mooncake. SQ isn’t doing so well financially that they have to expand, huh? But the handpicked osmanthus with crispy Japanese plum is the most fragrant of osmanthus mooncakes I’ve tasted. Not bad for a newcomer. $68 for a box.
I’m prejudiced against TWG because of the false advertising. But TWG is the only brand that remains from the Best Mooncakes 2011 list, attesting to how fantastic they are. Their mooncakes, made from tea, are redolent of its sweet fragrant. Got 茶香味, should go very well with a dark tea, not a floral tea. Recommended: Red lantern tea-flavored and Emperor tea-flavored. $60 a box. Available at their outlets. T: 6733 7997, email: Sales@TWGTea.com.
Best Durian Mooncake
Tam Kah 谭家
That’s right, Tam Kah is the seafood delicacies restaurant that I used to visit regularly. Their mao shan wang mooncakes are surprisingly robust, and bittersweet, unexpectedly beating hot favorites of mine like Four Seasons Durian and Goodwood Park. (To be fair, Goodwood Park has 7 flavors of durian mooncakes, but unfortunately, when I was going around to sample, only 1 was available, and it wasn’t of good quality.) $43 for box of 4.
Best Alcoholic Mooncake
The grand marnier chocolate doesn’t have a strong alcoholic taste, but this is nostalgic for me. When I was young, I only got to eat orange chocolate during Chinese New Year. Thus, this reminds me of festivity and holidays. $60 for box of 8.
Baker’s Well is a small independent bakery along East Coast Road. The champagne truffle snowskin has a fizz, just like drinking champagne. $60 for box of 8. T: 9731 2644
Summer Pavilion 夏苑 (Ritz-Carlton)
Snowskin lycheetini. $66 for box of 4 big pieces, or $51 for 6 mini.
Best Savory Mooncake
Chyn Nonya Cakes 真真
Unique mooncakes that taste like pies. Eucommia (herb) chicken floss mooncake (left) has salted bean paste, topped with pecan. Blooming mooncake is made of salted bean paste, mushrooms, scallops, and chicken, like a chicken pie. Emperor snow lotus mooncake is topped with sunflower seeds on its pastry skin, tasted savory too. $48 a box. T: 6556 1311.
Amethyst Pastry & Cakes
Their sugar-free white lotus walnut mooncake, or known to some people as Shanghai mooncake, tastes like gai zhai peng.
Best Vegetarian Mooncake
Paradise Group 乐天
The pure white lotus mooncake is smooth, and not-so-sweet, and still as good as, or even better than other mooncakes. $54 for a box of 4.
Best Teochew Mooncake
Park Hotel Group
I had a hard time deciding which category to place Palace Park. It has one of the best themes this year: gems. The snowskin mooncakes sparkle like precious stones, glamoruxurious, but, in the end, for me, substance is more important than style. Their signature Teochew mooncakes with flakey pastry skin are a little oily, but delicious. I prefer the new creation pumpkin to the traditional yam because it has a pleasant but not cloying sweetness. But you have to eat them quickly in case they lao hoong. $62 onwards for a box.
Long Jiang 龙江
Not sure if this is the defunct Long Jiang Seafood at Commonwealth but this Long Jiang mixes yam with coconut, giving it a special aroma, and undercutting the excessive sweetness of yam. Word of advice, Long Jiang: it’s 2014. Get your act together, and get online. $58 for a box. T: 6879 1418. Available at Takashimaya 7 Aug-8 Sept.
Best Packaging (for gifts and corporate)
Li Bai 李白
I try not to repeat the restaurants on this list but Li Bai’s box is just too auspicious, festive, and chio. The box, red embossed with gold, is opened by folding the sides outwards. I’m keeping the box to store my precioussss. $63 onwards for a box of 4.
Royal China at Raffles 皇朝
I don’t like mooncake boxes with pull-out drawers because they look like Chinese medicinal cabinet–inauspicious. The elongated bricklike box makes it look like a coffin. But that blue! that azure! so hypnotizing and posh. The stunning, bright color and luxurious satin material save the box; nobody can mistake that for grief. If a company receives one hundred different boxes of mooncakes, Royal China will stand out. Like presents under a Christmas tree, the most eyecatching is the most desirable. $56 onwards for a box. T: 6338 3363 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
While other restaurants focus on the box, Cookie Museum focuses on both the box and the mooncakes. I am awestruck to see a mooncake that looks like jade. The box mimics a thick hardcover book with a Victorian lady, quaint. If you’re James Bond, you can hide a gun inside and keep the box amidst your books on the bookshelf. If you’re giving away mooncakes as corporate gifts, this one says quirky, bold, cheeky, and dare to be different. Best for people in design industry. $65 onwards.
List of mooncakes I tried: Amethyst Pastry & Cakes, Bake Inc, Baker’s Well, Bakerzin, Bengawan Solo, Bread Junction, Chyn Nonya Cakes, Cookie Museum, D’bun, East Ocean, Four Seasons, Fullerton Hotel, Garden Pastry & Cake, Gin Thye, Grand Hyatt, Goodwood Park Hotel, Home’s Favorite, Hua Ting (Orchard Hotel), Kee Wah (Hong Kong), Jiang Nan Chun (Four Seasons Hotel), Kwong Cheong Thye, Lavender, Li Bai (Sheraton Towers) , Long Jiang, Mei Xin 美心 (Hong Kong), Minamoto Kitchoan (Japan), Paradise Group, Park Hotel Group, Peony Jade, Royal China, Season 时新, Singapore Airlines, Sucre, Summer Pavilion (Ritz Carlton Hotel), Tai Thong, Tam Kah, Tunglok, TWG, Wing Wah, Yes Natural Vegetarian, Zhen Wei Taste Good.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
ps: Images shown are attributed to their respective companies. Thanks, Bakerzin, Hua Ting, Li Bai, Park Hotel Group, and Sucre, for the complimentary mooncakes.
Categories: 1. Cuisine