After Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival/Mooncake Festival is probably the next most important celebration in Chinese culture. Held on the 15th day of the 8th month in the lunar calendar, the festival has origins dating back thousands of years and is rooted in moon worship.
Today, it is celebrated in many parts of the world where there are Chinese communities, including in Malaysia. Families come together to admire the moon, drink tea, play with lanterns, and of course, tuck into mooncakes.
I was psyched to try out the mooncakes from Shanghai@ JW Marriott KL and Li Yen@Ritz Carlton KL at the latter’s venue, where they had set up a special tasting session for us. Aside from traditional favourites like black bean and lotus paste filling, both restaurants are offering innovative new flavours that include – get this – Moet Chandon champagne and port wine with cream cheese.
First, we sampled some of the items from Ritz-Carlton’s award-winning Li-Yen restaurant. Making a comeback this year thanks to popular demand is the Mini Snow Skin Cream Cheese with Port Wine Mooncake (in purple). The skin was sweet and delicate, infused with the rich flavour of port wine, while the cream cheese added a hint of saltiness that balanced everything out well.
Its easy to see why the Mini Snow Skin Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial Champagne Mooncake (in pink) is a bestseller: there is an elegant and distinctive aroma of champagne, coupled with a silky lotus paste centre.
Traditional variants like White Lotus Paste with Double Egg Yolk, Red Bean Paste, Lotus Paste with Single Egg Yolk are also available, as well as the Li Yen Kam Tui which is filled with nuts and Chinese ham.
A box of four baked mooncakes is priced from RM88 nett, while a box of eight mini mooncakes is priced from RM104nett. They can also be purchased individually at RM13 nett per piece. The promotion is available from September 5 to October 4 2017.
We moved on to sample the painstakingly handmade creations from dimsum chefs at Shanghai @ JW Marriott KL, which featured more baked varieties on top of the usual snowskin offerings. Flavours are decidedly more traditional/Oriental, with the likes of Snow Skin Fermented Black Garlic with Salted Egg Yolk, delicate Snow Skin Shiro Umeboshi with Green Tea and the Snow Skin Custard Paste with Mint. I enjoyed the custard paste with mint – it was like eating a light cake with a refreshing hint of mint.
Other new creations this year include the Baked Pandan Paste with Salted Egg Yolk and Baked Green Tea Paste with Salted Egg Yolk. Durian lovers should definitely not miss out on the popular Snow Skin Durian Paste with Truffle, made with fresh Musang King durians. Of course, one can’t go wrong with gifts of Baked White Lotus Paste with Salted Egg Yolk, Baked Black Sesame Paste, Baked Bamboo-Charcoal Paste with Salted Egg Yolk and Deep Fried Crispy Yam.
Available from 28 August to 10 October, a box of 6 mini mooncakes is priced from MYR 93.28 nett and a box of 4 large mooncakes are priced at MYR 178.10 nett.
After the tasting, we had a mooncake making session with the chefs. Of course, it wasn’t really cooking since all the pastes/ingredients were ready – all we had to do was roll and stuff the snow skin mooncakes with filling and fit them into pretty molds overlaid with Chinese characters. Brought two to take home!
Numbers/info for both restaurants:
Li Yen: +60 3 2782 9033 or send an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shanghai: +60 3 2719 8288 or email email@example.com.
*Photos not watermarked courtesy of Shanghai JW Marriott and Li-Yen Ritz Carlton KL