Food Lifestyle

Best Mooncakes 2019

August 10, 2019

Every year I hit the Takashimaya mooncake fair determined to find the BEST MOONCAKES IN SINGAPORE, and every year I fail. Not because I don’t find great mooncakes there – I always do – but because the sheer scale of the fair and the crowd it draws is such a sensory overload that I get overwhelmed before even stepping into the fray, and usually just end up sampling from two or three vendors before making my choice.

This year I got organized. I went early, tried everything, took notes, went back again, took more notes, and then made this list to completely take the guesswork out of mooncake shopping for you. But by all means go and do your own comparison shopping at the fair, which is on from now til September 13th.

Best Traditional:
Old Seng Choon White Lotus Paste with Pumpkin Seeds. These had hands down the creamiest lotus paste of any mooncake I sampled all day, a good pastry-to-filling taste ratio, and an overall textural delicacy that made this a standout winner to both Adam and I. $60.80 for 4, on promo for $45.60 till August 18th.

Best Durian:
Home’s Favourite Snowskin Black Gold Mao Shan Wang. It’s easy to assume a black snow skin mooncake topped with edible gold flakes is overhyping itself…until you try it. The top-grade Mao Shan Wang pulp in these make them so good that no other pure durian mooncakes we ate before or after compared. $92 for 4.
Honourable Mention:
Bangawan Solo Durian Lotus. These are baked, and not filled with durian pulp but a combo of lotus paste and durian, and essentially taste like durian cake wrapped in pastry. Yum! Nostalgic, way more shelf-stable, and overall pretty genius if you ask me. $10.50 for 1, $42 for 4.

Best New Classic:
Old Seng Choon Red Lotus Paste with Bakwa. I don’t know why this is the first time I’ve encountered bakwa I my mooncakes, but I really hope it’s not the last. These have a ridiculously high bakwa-to-lotus-paste ratio that ensures each bite is meaty, smoky, and very, very addictive.
Honourable Mention:
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel’s American Fig Mooncakes. Flecks of dried fig take the place of melon seeds in this baked mooncake, and add a subtle but welcome fruitiness to the lotus paste along with a satisfying crunch from the fig seeds. Such a simple, but genius combination.

Best Semi-Savoury:
Chuan Ji Hainanese Mooncakes. These are humble flat, flaky cakes that look more like tau sa piah than the elaborate cakes we’re used to seeing, but boy are they good. They’re stuffed with a peppery combo of sesame seeds, melon seeds, shallots and orange peel, and would be killer with a glass of red wine.
Honourable Mention:
Imperial Patisserie Molten Egg Custard Mooncakes. Essentially a gooey dan tat disguised as mini mooncakes, a box of these is the perfect great gift idea for someone who probably already has a fridge full of traditional mooncakes.

Best Flaky Yam:
Zhen Wei Crispy Yam Pumpkin Mooncake. Fried yam-filled mooncakes have really caught on in the last couple of years, but nobody does it like Zhen Wei. They’re the only ones that fry their mooncakes on site for absolute freshness. PS the pumpkin version is my pick because it adds a bit of sweetness and colour to the yam. $30 for 2, $55 for 4.

Best Non-Mooncake:
Awfully Chocolate Chocolate Brownie with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. Don’t like mooncakes at all? Or know someone whose tastes run more western? These are pretty much just brownies shaped like mooncakes, and really good, really rich brownies at that. $88 for 4.
Honourable Mention:
Garden Pastry & Cakes Crispy Walnut Mooncakes. These are more tart than mooncake, with the filling encased in a crisp, buttery, shortbread cookie-like dome. If you like mooncake filling but tend to be bored by the textural homogeneity of baked/snowskin ones, you’ll really enjoy these. $6 each, $43 for 8.

Best For Foodies:
The Marriott Hotel’s White Lotus Seed Paste Mooncakes with Jambon de Bayonne, Lavender and Pistachio. I’ll admit that I tried these with great skepticism, but somehow it just really, really works. Each flavour is distinct yet well-balanced against the others, and I can genuinely say these is as impressive a combo as it is imaginative.

Best On-Trend:
Kele Avocado Macadamia Snowskin Mooncake. Move over, avo-toast! I didn’t know what to expect with this one, but I came away pleasantly surprised. The avocado mousse filling was airy not too sweet, and the macadamia nuts added the perfect amount of texture to keep things interesting. It’s more dessert than mooncake, but it’s worth a try, I promise. $68 for 4, currently on early-bird special for $51.
Honourable Mention:
Hyatt Hotel’s Mini Acai Berry Truffle Snowskin Mooncake. Fruity and refreshing, Adam felt they did a good job capturing the essence of acai bowls while still technically being mooncakes. I was more intrigued by their Brown Sugar Milk Tea Truffle mooncakes, which didn’t taste at all like the real thing (to me) but were impressive for their sheer trendiness.

Best Sugar-Free:
My Mum’s Cookies No Cane Sugar White Lotus. I honestly couldn’t tell these were sugar-free, but more importantly neither could Adam, and he is usually super-sensitive to the taste of sugar substitutes. FYI these are sweetened with Maltitol, and incidentally are also vegan (ie egg and dairy free) and halal-certified.
Honourable Mention:
Chocoelf Yuzu Mango Truffle Snowskin. They’re decadent and so full of flavour that whatever mild after-taste of artificial sweetener there might be is completely cancelled out by the yuzu notes. If you’re gifting these to a diabetic, take a brochure from the shop because they won’t believe these are actually sugar-free. $38 for 2, $72 for 4.

Best Box:
Conrad Hotel. These croc-embossed mini trunks are meant to double as jewelry boxes after the festival. Their Traditional Baked Honey Osmanthus Mooncakes are my choice for jewelry placeholders – the osmathus flowers add a subtle, elevating complexity to the white lotus paste.
Honourable Mention:
Awfully Chocolate. Their sleek hand-made (!!) wooden boxes are on the other end of the spectrum from most of the OTT packaging you’ll see out there, but design-wise they’re spot on as gifts for young, modern couples with young, modern homes.

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