It’s almost that time of year again, the 15th day of the eight month on the lunar calendar (which this year falls on September 15) when the moon is full. The traditional way to celebrate this event is by indulging in mooncakes while gazing at the moon, and Hong Kong is spoiled for choice when it comes to the flavours and styles available. While some purists go for the classic mooncakes that are as heavy as paperweights, others have more adventurous taste buds and prefer to try the new flavours that are created each year. We did the legwork and sampled some of the best new mooncakes.
Nakamura Tokichi Hong Kong Ten Maruto mooncakes (HK$198 for two, HK$498 for eight)
Kyoto matcha purveyor Nakamura Tokichi has taken Hong Kong by storm with its soft-serve ice cream and shaved ice. And just in time for Mid-Autumn Festival, the famous brand has released its Maruto mooncake box set, which is only available in Hong Kong. The filling is matcha paste mixed with Japanese sweet potatoes. As soon as we opened the packaging, the signature green tea aroma escaped into the ether. But all was not lost – the filling was moist and not too sweet, thanks to the inherent bitterness of the matcha that we thoroughly enjoyed, as well as the pastry shell that didn’t crumble or flake into pieces. We considered this one the best of the lot.
Nakamura Tokichi Hong Kong Ten
Unit 3005-9, 3/F, Miramar Shopping Centre, 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2156 1168
Cuisine Cuisine mini rose puree and roselle mooncakes (HK$398 for eight pieces)
The chefs at Cuisine Cuisine have flexed their creative muscles and come up with some interesting new flavours this year. The mini rose purée and roselle mooncakes caught our attention. They are infused with rose jam that is mixed into a creamy egg custard filling. When we opened the package, there was a hint of rose perfume. The mooncakes have a lingering taste of roselle, small bits of which were mixed into the filling to add texture. We liked the flavour, and appreciated that they weren’t too sweet.
Shop 3101, Podium Level 3, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, tel: 2393 3933
3/F, The Mira Hong Kong, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2315 5222
Ms B’s Cakery mooncakes (HK$620 for four, HK$550 for nine mini)
Bonnae Gokson is the creative mastermind behind all the beautiful and scrumptious cakes at Ms B’s Cakery. For previous Mid-Autumn festivals, she came out with Western-style cakes that had the look of Chinese lanterns, but this year she decided to go traditional with maltitol with white lotus seed paste and duck egg yolks. She has two sizes, the standard 180g with two duck yolks, and mini 60g version with quartered yolks. Each mooncake has Ms B’s signature butterfly pattern. We liked that the mooncakes were very moist, and we were also pleased to find that they were not too sweet or rich. Gokson is not one to miss details: the packaging of these mid-autumn treats was impeccable, featuring silver-coloured boxes covered in colourful butterflies.
Ms B’s Cakery
39 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2815 8303
Maxim’s lava custard mooncake (HK$326 for six)
The lava custard mooncake from Maxim’s Delicate Trio Mooncake reminds us of the popular dim sum steamed egg custard bun. The mooncake has a creamy filling with a thick, molten core. The lava is velvety, a nice departure from the thick and sticky texture of usual mooncakes. We only wished there was more of the lava. The box of six contains two custard mooncakes, two with the lava centre, and two chocolate lava mooncakes.
Maxim’s Pop-up Store
2A, 8-10 Cleveland Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay
Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees fresh pineapple and custard salted egg yolk mooncake (HK$288 for six)
This mooncake is a creative twist on the hotel’s home-made fresh pineapple pastry and tastes very much like the famous Taiwanese delicacy. Fresh milk, organic brown sugar and syrup were used to give the mooncake a velvety texture. We like the chewy bits of pineapple. The egg yolk is also not too salty, creating a delicate balance with the sweet and fruity taste of the pineapples.
Café 8 Degrees
Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees, 199 Kowloon City Road, To Kwa Wan, tel: 2126 1960
Duddell’s mooncakes (HK$388 for a box of seven)
This year the Chinese restaurant in Central has collaborated with local artist Michael Lau to come up with an interesting way to package its mooncakes. Lau designed large yellow round boxes that resemble the full moon. Inside, one regular mooncake is surrounded by six that are in the shape of small pigs – an homage to “pig-cage cakes” that are typically sold in plastic baskets and hung for display at this time of year. The cream custard filling is covered with a pastry shell rather than traditional Chinese one. The filling has a slight hint of coconut flavour that’s delicate, delicious and not too sweet.
Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2525 9191
Peninsula’s durian mooncake (HK$888 for eight)
Most people have a love/hate relationship with durian and the same goes for the durian mooncakes by chef Yip Wing-wah from the Peninsula Hong Kong. They come in a beautiful gift box, which, with its multiple compartments, resembles a jewellery box. The durian is strong and we can detect its distinctive aroma as soon as we open the individually wrapped mooncakes – enticing to those who like the fruit and repulsive to others. Unfortunately, the mooncake filling lacks the rich and creamy texture of durian and the mooncake itself is slightly starchy and dry.
The Peninsula Boutique
The Peninsula Arcade, 22 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2696 6969
Man Ho Chinese Restaurant’s mini pandan paste with egg yolk mooncakes (HK$580 for eight)
These mooncakes were created by Jayson Tang, executive Chinese chef of the JW Marriott hotel’s signature Chinese restaurant. When sliced open, the mooncake reveals a moss-coloured filling, which is thick and not too sweet. But the green shade is almost the only hint of the pandan flavour as the characteristic but elusive taste of pandan leaves is barely noticeable. And the mooncake tastes rather similar to traditional ones with white lotus seed.
Man Ho Chinese Restaurant
Level 3, JW Marriott Hotel, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, tel: 2810 8366