With the Mid-Autumn Festival slated on 13 September this year, there’s been a rush to make the most outrageous mooncakes. Gone are the days of choosing between mooncakes with or without egg yolk.
In order to stand out from the competition, bakers have come up with weird flavours and over-the-top packaging and we have to wonder about the amount of waste produced. Does anyone ever finish eating all their mooncake gifts?
The unique flavours
To stand out from the crowd, some bakers have come up with flavours that are so far removed from the traditional idea of ‘mooncake’ that we wonder how many people actually like eating them, and are forced to eat them because they’re unique?
Grab (yes, the ride share company) is joining the ranks of bakers by offering perhaps some of the weirdest flavours: Rainbow Ondeh Ondeh Mooncake (a rainbow-coloured shell with pandan mochi and gula melaka) and Sambal Shrimp Mooncake (aka hae bee hiam). These are flavours that one will either love or hate – but to have them as a whole box set?
Meanwhile, Mandarin Orchard’s Cempedak with Low Sugar Pandan Paste and Fullerton Hotel’s Bandung Snowskin Mooncake seem more like flavours for Hari Raya.
If you think hae bee hiam was weird, the 5 Nuts Roast Duck Mooncake from Kam’s Roast (the roast duck folks from HK) is stuffed with their signature duck and 23-year-old orange peel. Nothing says ‘mooncake’ like duck, right?
As if having durian mooncake is not decadent enough, they’re adding truffles. Aroma Truffle fills their mooncakes with Mao Shan Wang infused with black truffles, encased in bamboo charcoal snowskin with edible gold flakes. Take this decadence to another level with Golden Moments’ version which uses Mao Shan Wang paste in a chocolate shell, black truffle, infused truffle paste and oil, and four layers of 24K gold leaves, all sold at a whopping $628 for a limited edition set with gold – what else? – tableware. What is it with durian and gold? An excuse to show people you can afford it?
Shangri-La’s decadent Hong Kong-style Mini Baked Custard with Bird’s Nest uses actual bird’s nest, which basically translates to bird spit (and the harvesting has contributed to the decline of birds).
Bubble tea fans may love or hate these – Grand Hyatt’s Brown Sugar Milk Tea Truffle, and Bakerzin’s Bobba Love Collection which has flavours like Pearl Latte Snowskin Mooncake and Pearl Yuan Yang Snowskin Mooncake that contain chewy boba pearls; for more pearls, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport has its Earl Grey with Tapioca Pearls.
We’ve all seen the usual (read: boring) metal tins and cardboard boxes being gifted around – but how many of those end up in the bin? Some mooncakes are now contained in packaging that are designed to be reused (or at least look real pretty).
Hilton’s Purple Sweet Potato with Walnut comes in an optional premium packaging: embroidered mooncake handbags. Cute as gifts, but not sure what you’d do with a Hilton-branded bag that’s only designed to hold mooncakes.
Not to be left behind, Concorde Hotel’s gimmick involves halal and vegetarian versions of mooncake, but what really takes the cake is the fact that the ‘box’ is an LED moon globe that actually doubles up as a night lamp.
TungLok has several packaging options – from the opulent limited-edition orange wooden chest (which is pretty enough to be repurposed) to the glow-in-the-dark box; apart from looking cute, it’s probably going to end up in the bin.
Boozy mooncakes aren’t new – you’ll find many infused with vodka, champagne, liquor, or wine. Even Guinness has their stout-infused mooncake in a package which would appeal to all hipsters.
Cocktail-inspired mooncakes dominate this year – Holiday Inn Atrium has their Singapore Sling Praline Snowskin Mooncake and Mandarin Oriental has Mother of Dragons, their dragonfruit cocktail presented in a nice box, which can probably be repurposed as a jewellery box.
Regent’s Manhattan Bar has come up with The Manhattan Hanky Panky mooncake, which contains gin and bitters, finished with crunchy chocolate pearls. Along with other weird flavours like Truffle Carbonara (black truffle with cream cheese) and Parma Ham & Pork Floss with Assorted Nuts, they come in a bubble lift-inspired tiffin box (which aren’t quite reusable).
Ritz Carlton also has their signature martinis made into mooncakes: the Orangetini and Lycheetini which are packaged in a stationery box – nicely thought out, but if nobody uses it, then it’s a huge waste of materials.
There are way too many unique and gimmicky mooncakes to mention, but what are your thoughts on this almost-obligatory mooncake gifting culture? Is it too much, or is it something you actually look forward to?