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Classic and classy mooncakes


KEEPING TRADITION: Shangri-La Hotel’s line-up features mainly evergreen favourites plus four exciting new variants

KUALA LUMPUR: SHANGRI-LA Hotel's line-up of mooncakes has always stayed true with the traditional and "not too fanciful" variants. And it's no different for this year's Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sept 30.

Chinese chef Tan Kim Weng, 45, who joined the hotel's Shang Palace last year, has been tasked with perpetuating this policy.

While he has kept some of the classic variants, he has come up with four new types of mooncakes. These are spirulina paste with single yolk, mini-custard paste with yolk, mini snow skin black sesame, and mini snow skin chocolate with espresso bits and almond strips.

With a team of seven, including himself, Tan said between 1,200 and 1,500 mooncakes (both small and big) could be hand-made daily.

"There is no difference between making the baked skin and snow skin mooncakes. However, the toughest part is not mixing the dough, but rather placing the finished product on a tray and inserting it into the oven," said Tan,  who has been a cook for more than 20 years.

As the Ipoh-born father of two, came from a family of dim sum chefs, it was only natural for Tan to make a transition into a similar line.

"As a dim sum chef, it's imperative of me to learn how to make mooncakes. This is because as Chinese chefs, we always have two big occasions to worry about every year -- Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival," said Tan, adding that the sugar content in Shang Palace's mooncakes has been reduced in view of health concerns.

"However, the sugar content cannot be reduced too much as a certain level is needed to cool the lotus paste," said Tan, who only cooks for his family at home during special occasions as he is not used to the different utensils and equipment.

As for the mooncakes  previewed, the new standout was the spirulina paste with single yolk, which was not too sweet and tasted like mung bean. Equally good was the mini snow skin chocolate with espresso bits and almond strips, which had an exotic roasted tinge and taste.

However, the mini custard paste with yolk was a disappointment, tasting dull and bland. Setting things right was the mini snow skin with custard and bird's nest, which was crusty and creamy, with every bite a devilish delight.

Also available are the red bean mooncakes, lotus seed paste, white lotus seed paste, assorted nuts and sun-dried fruits, and the snow skin durian paste with single yolk, which is  sure to be a hit among lovers of the thorny fruit.

The mooncakes are packed in personalised and custom-designed gift boxes, with the deluxe version featuring a choice of four mooncakes or six mini-mooncakes encased in a two-tier hexagon-shaped box with a fabric cover featuring paintings of old China. The Premier Gift Box consists of four tiers with three mooncakes each.

Discounts are  given for bulk orders. For enquiries and orders, call 03-2074 3560.

The mini snow skin durian mooncakes (foreground) and mini snow skin black sesame mooncakes from Shangri-La Hotel.

The spirulina paste with single yolk mooncake.

The assorted nuts and sun-dried fruits mooncake.

The white lotus seed paste with single yolk mooncake.

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