It’s that time of the year where we celebrate Mid-Autumn, wax lyrical about Chang-e and the Jade Rabbit…but most importantly, enjoy some delicious mooncakes with our loved ones. After the hyper inflation of mooncake prices last year, we finally have reached a less insane price list in 2023 and we’re glad that some brands have sent us some of their mooncakes to try out and review.
Big thanks to Hai Tien Lo of Pan Pacific, The Pine Garden, PS.Cafe and Tai Cheong Bakery for their generosity! Nonetheless, our review will be unbiased and we will be honest about the good, the bad and everything in between. We will also include some special mentions of other brands that we have not tried but seems interesting and might be a consideration.
We shall not touch on the amount of sugar etc when it comes to making mooncakes because we’ve already done so in a previous year’s review. As with all things, do enjoy and indulge in moderation!
Hands down, Hai Tien Lo wins this category. What we loved about their boxes is not just that they look good but they can be reused for other purposes. For example, the gold one that we received for the Four Treasures Snow Skin can be reused as a wine bottle holder. Perfect for those days where you want to make an impression when gifting someone with a special bottle of wine.
If you want to go premium, then splash out on the limited edition Four Treasures Baked Mooncakes Premium Gift Set where you can choose between a stunning teapot set (makes sense to have tea with mooncakes) or a bottle of Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne. This whole set is paired with a leatherette bag, which will definitely impress whoever you’re getting this set for.
Coming in close would be Tai Cheong Bakery’s “suitcase” but it lost a few points due to the following reasons:
- Some of the mooncakes didn’t really fit that well into the placeholders in the suitcase
- The bottom part of the placeholders was glued to the bottom of the suitcase, which meant that it had to be removed physically before the suitcase can be repurposed for something else
- After removal of the cardboard placeholder, some parts of the suitcase was ripped out as well so it doesn’t look that great unless you patch it up with paper/cloth or you just want to use the box to hold knick-knacks
- The buckle didn’t really close well unless properly aligned but the slight flimsy material (compared to the other brands’ boxes) made it slightly less easy to do so
Lantern Red and Classic Black mooncake packaging
While we appreciate PS.Cafe’s nod to heritage patterns and materials, with each mooncake adorned with an intricate motif inspired by the design features found in PS.Cafe locations, the box itself is really long and we couldn’t really think of how to repurpose this or what we could store inside (other than rulers?). The box itself is made with very durable materials, so it is shame if we had to chuck it but it takes up quite a lot of space on the table.
Best flavours from each brand (in our opinion)
Hai Tien Lo, Pan Pacific
Gula Melaka Paste with Desiccated Coconut Ganache Snow Skin
Reading the flavour name, I’m sure you’re able to imagine how it tastes like and yes, it tastes exactly like what it is supposed to taste like. The coconut ganache was subtle and the gula melaka wasn’t too sweet so the pairing was perfect. Made me crave for a bowl of chendol to indulge on the side.
Yam Paste with White Rabbit Candy Ganache Snow Skin
We were a little sceptical as to whether this would pair well and I was also wondering whether the White Rabbit Candy would overpower the yam. Surprisingly, it went really well! Imagine orh-ni with creamy White Rabbit Candy finish instead of coconut cream. Slightly decadent but really perks up the palate. Half of you will want to eat the whole mooncake while the other half will want to share the delightfulness and experience!
The Pine Garden
|Crispy Skin XO-sauce Paste with Sanxing Scallion (S$23.80 each)
This was a dark horse because this is only savoury mooncake that we’ve tasted and we were blown away. This crispy mooncake uses Sanxing Scallion (三星葱) from Taiwan’s Yilan Sanxing Township, which is then fried with The Pine Garden’s homemade XO-sauce and lupcheong.
Verdict? MUST TRY!
It reminded us of char siew sou as well as a more meaty scallion cake. And because it was savoury with crispy skin, it did not feel as heavy as the other sweet mooncakes.
|Baked Skin Taiwan Brown Sugar Ginger Tea with Dried Longans (S$23.80 each)
As a non-ginger fan, I had to try this mooncake with slight hesitation as I could not imagine a ginger tea-flavoured mooncake. It might sound really nice to some people, especially those who love eating their tang yuans (rice dumplings) in ginger tea/soup.
I’m glad that I tried it because it ended up being one of my favourites in The Pine Garden’s 2023 Mooncake Flavours. The ginger tea taste was not overly strong and it was balanced out with the dried longans. In fact, the fragrance of the longans was what kept me eating the whole quarter of the mooncake.
|Sticky Date Mooncake
Plump honeyed dates and brown sugar mochi is mixed in a luscious date paste that is inspired by PS.Cafe’s Sticky Date Pudding. Rest assured that the mooncake version isn’t super sweet but it was delicious. It reminded us a little bit like Cheng Tng and we suspect that the dates used here are red dates instead of Medjool dates that are usually used in sticky date puddings. Not complaining. In fact, this is our favourite mooncake from PS.Cafe and the hubs asked for seconds.
Tai Cheong Bakery
The Chinese name for this flavour (流沙) alluded that it is inspired by lava buns served as a dim sum, where you have steaming hot custard with salted egg flowing out of the bun. But of course, this mooncake didn’t come hot nor were there any instructions to heat it up. Instead, expect a burst of the creamy custard filling when you bite into it.
In terms of flavour, yes, it nailed the smooth and velvety custard filling one expects from said lava bun but it was not oozing out. So do not expect that texture but enjoy the spin of it in a mooncake.
|Single Yolk with White Lotus Seed Paste
Now, you might wonder why we’re mentioning a traditional flavour but we have to give recognition to something done very very well. Tai Cheong Bakery uses the choicest lotus seeds from Hunan, renowned as “The Premier Lotus Seed in China” for their rich protein content, low fat, and exceptional flavour. Accompanied with the aroma of egg yolk, this mooncake is faultless.
Other interesting flavours worth mentioning
The Pine Garden
|Golden Custard Orh-Ni Baked Skin/ Snow Skin (S$20.70 each)
An alternative to the traditional lotus mooncakes, this Hong Kong custard-inspired mooncake has the custard paste as a base with the all-time favourite orh-ni in the middle for a unique combination of flavours.
While this mooncake does not have the same “wow” factor as the other two mentioned above, what we liked about it is that Pine Garden’s mooncakes are generally not too sweet so the older folks will appreciate it while the younger ones will still enjoy the traditional twist.
As a nod to their latest bar at Ann Siang Hill, the Verandah Mooncake is made with a smooth paste of pandan blended with fresh coconut and a salted egg yolk in the middle. In other words: kaya.
However, it still lacks that signature rich lemak flavour that is accentuated with the fragrance of the pandan that one would get from normal kaya jam. So while the Verandah mooncake is generally pleasant and a good spin on a local delight, it did not quite hit the same spot as the Sticky Date Mooncake.
Tai Cheong Bakery
Black Sesame Mochi
Just wanted to mention this for Tai Cheong Bakery, although they’re not the first to have this flavour (The Pine Garden has been doing it for a few years now), as it comes in the mini mooncake series so it’s perfect for those who want to taste that fragrant black sesame paste with a chewy centre without having to commit to too large a piece.
However, if I had to compare it to The Pine Garden’s version…I think the paste by The Pine Garden is better and the mochi is chewier, but I much preferred the baked skin by Tai Cheong Bakery.
It’s just one particular flavour that is done by every brand and they may mask it with another name – “Superfood” by PS.Cafe or “Assorted Nuts” by The Pine Garden but it is essentially Wuren (五仁), which is what Tai Cheong Bakery still calls it. It is a traditional mooncake characterised by the five types of nuts (walnuts, almonds, melon seeds, sesame seeds and cashew nuts) and the not-so-delightful addition of orange peels and even Chinese ham. We love nuts in this household but this combination just astounds us and we wonder who in the world came up with such a recipe to begin with…but I’m sure there are people out there who love it, which is why it has withstood the sands of time and is still a staple mooncake flavour.
So PS.Cafe didn’t go with the ham and they used more expensive nuts such as pine nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, melon seeds and almonds but that candied orange peel taste is still very prominent.
The most traditional-tasting version is by The Pine Garden (S$19.70 each) although it is probably vegetarian as there wasn’t any taste of ham in it but yes…very heavy mooncake where you can’t really taste the usual distinctive flavour of each nut.
Tai Cheong Bakery’s version has the ham so it does taste a little more on the traditional side but maybe because they used cashew, which has a higher fat content, and the skin of the mooncake is a bit more buttery, this wuren mooncake didn’t taste half bad. Nonetheless, nobody in my household was scrambling for seconds.
The promotions (and prices)
Hai Tien Lo, Pan Pacific
Traditional Baked Mooncakes
|Hai Tien Lo No.1 Tea
|Single Yolk White Lotus Paste
|Double Yolk White Lotus Paste
|Four Treasures Baked • 四喜烘皮月饼||94|
||Including a teapot set and a packet of Hai Tien Lo No.1 Tea leaves||178|
|Including a bottle of Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne||278|
Snow Skin Mooncakes
|Gula Melaka Paste with Desiccated Coconut Ganache
|Strawberry Paste Hai Tien Lo No.1 Tea Ganache
|Yam Paste White Rabbit Candy Ganache
|Orange Paste Matcha Ganache
|Mao Shan Wang Durian
|Four Treasures Snow Skin • 四喜冰皮月饼
Prices stated are subject to GST.
The Pine Garden
Each mooncake has a different price (see some of the prices stated above), so not only are their mooncakes affordable, you can mix and match a box of four based on your likes!
There is an early bird discount of 15% for retail purchases and advanced orders placed by 6 September 2023 (except for Traditional Delights and Vegetarian Pea-Cakes).
A box of four mooncakes from PS.Cafe will retail at S$98+ before any of the following discounts are applied. Regular retail priced mooncakes can be ordered via pscafe.com or PS.Cafe At Home on LazMall or from their selected outlets from now till 26 September 2023.
There is an early bird discount of 10% for 1-10 boxes and 15% for 11 boxes or more, for orders made via pscafe.com from now until 29 August 2023.
OCBC cardholders can enjoy 15% off from 1 August until 26 September 2023.
Tai Cheong Bakery
|Golden Treasure Mooncake Set
|Divine Medley Mooncake Set
45g each (mini mooncakes)
There is an early bird discount of 20% from now till 31 August 2023. Do note that flavours in each box are fixed and are not interchangeable. Delivery to one location available for orders of 10 boxes and above.
All the Mooncake Sets are available at all Tai Cheong outlets, with exception of Changi Airport Terminal 3.
Other worthy mentions
So in this category, we have not personally tried this year’s flavours from the following brands but we’re intrigued by the packaging and/or the flavours.
Janice Wong’s Mooncake Collection 2023 comes in either a customised designed lantern (S$105, packs 8 pieces) or metallic tin (S$22, packs two pieces) that is both whimisical, reusable and nostalgic. This year’s collection revolves around three product themes – Childhood Memories (Chocolate; S$108 for 8 pieces), Japan-inspired (Baked; S$105 for 8 pieces) and Floral (Snowskin; (S$50 for 4 pieces).
They’re now available with early bird specials at 25% off from now till 31 August and subsequently 10% off from 1 to 15 September 2023. Pre-orders can be made via their website https://janicewong.online/.
5 ON 25, Andaz Singapore
Whimsical mooncake reunions await with four handcrafted baked mooncake flavours from modern upscale Cantonese restaurant, 5 ON 25 at Andaz Singapore. Guests can savour two new flavours, Citrus Surprise and Gula Galore, created by the hotel’s Pastry Chef Francis Wong, and two other all-time favourites by the restaurant’s Chinese Head Chef Lim Hong Lih. The mooncakes are housed in a two-tier box, wrapped with a playful bespoke design by homegrown lifestyle brand, Binary Style, established by twin sisters and trained architects, Santhi and Sari Tunas.
Inspired by the bustling two-story shophouse scene in the hotel’s neighbourhood, Kampong Glam, the simple yet elegant shophouse design features defined windows and minimal ornamentation. It is a close representation of an early shophouse style used from the 1840s to the 1900s. Encased in eye-catching hues of green, pink and blue, the box opens up to unveil two inner drawers, wrapped in a beautiful geometric pattern of leaves of breadfruit trees, which are in abundance in the area.
Using a traditional recipe by Chef Lim and back by popular demand are the 5 ON 25 Signature Tea Blend and Silver Lotus++. The former offers a fragrant medley of Osmanthus, Oolong and Pu’er tea notes, while the latter comprises white lotus paste and two golden egg yolks at the core encased in the golden baked crust.
The two fixed sets are available for sale:
|5 on 25 Mooncakes Set
Box of four assorted flavours
|5 ON 25 Silver Lotus++ Mooncakes Set
Box of four double yolk mooncakes
Guests can enjoy an early bird offer of 25% off for orders made from now till 29 September 2023. Orders can be made via Andaz Online Shop at https://andazsg.whyqueue.shop/ or at the Mooncake Concierge on Level 25 at Andaz Singapore. For enquiries, please email them at [email protected].
Lime Restaurant, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering
Lime Restaurant at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering unveils an exquisite range of baked mooncakes available in four delectable flavours, featuring luscious molten lava mooncakes alongside time-honoured favourites.
New creations this season include the irresistible lava mooncakes, available in two luscious flavours – Salted Egg Lava (S$98) and Matcha Lava (S$98). Fans of classic mooncakes flavours can relish a harmonious blend of velvety lotus paste and savoury golden yolk with the White Lotus Paste with Single Yolk Mooncake (S$88). Those looking for a little more oomph can indulge in the fruity and aromatic White Lotus Paste with Lychee Bits Mooncake (S$88).
Guests can also opt for the Fantastic Four (S$92), which features an assortment of the four flavours and is presented in a sustainable bamboo box with a sleek scarlet sleeve, making it a perfect gift for loved ones.
There is an early-bird offer of 25% from now till 3 September for UOB, DBS, Citi and Amex cardholders or 15% from 4 to 29 September. Pan Pacific DISCOVERY members get to enjoy an exclusive 30% savings on the mooncakes.
Orders can be made via email to [email protected], by calling +65 3138 2251 or over the counter at Lime Restaurant.
For more information, please visit their website www.panpacific.com/mid-autumn-splendour.
Tiong Bahru Bakery
TBB has launched its first ever Mid-Autumn special – Take Me To The Moon Box Set and right on point with their branding, these “mooncakes” have been given a contemporary French twist to the traditional ones. The packaged set comes in four unique flavours, in the form of their signature crispy and buttery Kouign Amann:
- Yuzu & Osmanthus Kouign Amann with Wolfberries
- Black Sesame & Coconut Kouign Amann
- Honey, Ginger & Sesame Kouign Amann with Pine Nuts
- Lotus Paste & Salted Egg Kouign Amann with Macadamia Nuts
Early Bird Specials run from now to 15 September where you can get 10% off any box order with the code “EARLYBIRD10” for any box order and “EARLYBIRD15” to get 15% off for 30 boxes and above. From 15 September till 1 October, a limited number of Take Me To The Moon Box Set will be available for walk-in purchases in all TBB stores islandwide.
For more information or to pre-order, please visit http://festive.tiongbahrubakery.com.
Low sugar baked mooncakes from Kuriya Japanese Market
For those looking for less-sweet options, Kuriya Japanese Market (Guoco Tower, #B2-11) kicks off the Mid-Autumn celebrations with the Tsukimi Mooncake Collection – a box of four assorted low sugar baked mooncakes, complete with a cutlery set and carrier bag, for S$71.80. Enjoy flavours such as:
- Charcoal Skin Black Sesame with Single Yolk
- Lychee White Lotus Paste with Melon Seeds
- Classic White Lotus Paste with Double Yolk
- Yam White Lotus Paste with Macadamia
&Rewards members can enjoy the Early Bird Promo (15% off) until 17 September for in-store purchases only.
Assorted mooncakes from Starbucks
Delighting with their mix of traditional and unique flavours, Starbucks (Guoco Tower, #01-08) offers an Assorted Mooncake Giftbox of eight mooncakes for S$65.90, featuring flavours such as:
- Lotus Paste with Egg Yolk (Less Sweet)
- Pandan Salted Egg Mochi
- Starbucks Pure Matcha Mochi
- Black Sesame Mochi
- Starbucks Coffee with Caramel & Hazelnut
- Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate
Images: Andaz Singapore, Envato (header), Janice Wong, Kuriya Japanese Market, Pan Pacific Hotel, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, PS.Cafe, Starbucks Singapore, Tai Cheong Bakery, The Pine Garden and Tiong Bahru Bakery
Video: The Wellness Insider