IT’S only a week to the Mooncake or Mid Autumn Festival, celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. This year it falls on Sept 19. It’s the night when the moon is at its roundest and brightest, and a time for family reunions, and eating mooncakes together.
Traditional mooncakes – those filled with lotus seed paste, red bean paste and assorted nuts and fruits – are what I like, in spite of all the new flavours that keep popping up. I also love the aroma of the egg-glazed skin of baked mooncakes and I have been sniffing at the ones from the Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur (pic). They passed the nose test, and when cut, the skin did not disengage itself from the filling.
The Lotus Seed Paste and Red Bean Paste Mooncakes were smooth, and glistened with the right amount of peanut oil in the filling. I liked especially the red bean paste with smoky hints in it, and the right level of sweetness.
The lotus seed paste one had the desired sticky and slightly heavy bite to it. A salted egg yolk in it gave it the right balance with the lightly sweet paste.
Few restaurants make the assorted nuts and dried fruit variety of mooncakes. It is one of my favourite mooncakes. Every year my friend CS makes sure I get to eat this one, listed as Assorted Nuts and Sundried Fruits, from the Shangri-La.
I had a slice of this and I picked out from the sticky paste the melon seeds, almonds, macadamia nut, sesame seeds, candied wintermelon, and aged mandarin peel that gave it that burst of citrusy fragrance. It was scrumptious. Again the sweetness had been toned down.
Of the baked varieties at the Shangri-La there is also a White Lotus Seed Paste (with or without yolk), Black Sesame Paste with Single Yolk, and Mini Chestnut Paste with Yolk.
Then there are the Snow Skin or Ping Pei (unbaked) varieties that are in mini sizes, such as the best-selling Ping Pei Durian and Ping Pei with Custard and Bird’s Nest. Ping Pei Yam Paste and Ping Pei Chocolate with Dulce De Leche Praline Flavour, Almond and Hazelnut are the other newer varieties.
The mooncakes are beautifully packed in striking brocade boxes in deep pink, purple and orange with a carved jade-green peony on the cover. They make great gifts for family and friends, even corporate ones.
The prices of the mooncakes range from RM18 to RM28 each, depending on the flavour and number of yolks in it. They can be bought at the Mooncake Counter in the hotel lobby, or call to order at 03-2074 3560.
Snow Skin Mooncakes from the Oriental Group of Restaurants
I tried two Snow Skin or Ping Pei Mooncakes – White Lotus Seed Paste with Yolk and Durian – from the Oriental Pavilion Restaurant in Petaling Jaya. I was so pleased to find lovely fibrous durian combined with smooth white lotus seed paste in the Durian Mooncake. The aroma of the durian was unabashedly stinky and divine. The snow skin was perfectly thin and soft, without being too sticky and the sweetness was just right. It was so yummy that I ate half of it at one sitting. This signature Snow Skin Durian Mooncake is sold at all the restaurants in the Oriental Group at RM22++ each. The Snow Skin White Lotus Paste with a Single Yolk is RM16++.
You can buy them at any Oriental Group restaurant, such as Oriental Pavilion in Jaya 33, Jalan Semangat, Section 13, PJ, Tel: 03-7956 9288.
White Lotus Seed Paste Mooncakes from Chef Choi
For White Lotus Seed Paste Mooncakes, it’s hard to beat those from Chef Choi. The Snow Skin variety of this stands out for its delicate smooth skin, and creamy white lotus seed paste filling that is lightly sweet. The pure white lotus seed paste is sublime, even without the egg yolk.
Chef Choi is located at 159 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, Tel: 03-2163 5866. - September 13, 2013.