Mu Yao: Karen from the Park Hotel group (not to be confused with the Parkroyal chain of hotels) kindly sent me 2 boxes of their acclaimed mooncakes for review. I took the opportunity to try out some of their lovely mooncakes, as well as collect their beautiful mooncake boxes (please don't judge me, I'm a sucker for pretty little things).
Xin Li: Freshly delivered to my house, I went straight for the colourful snowskin moon cakes which has got my niece and sister excited about. We went ahead trying the various mooncakes without looking through the items first, trying to comprehend these mid-autumn treats as we savour them one by one.
They sent me two boxes — the assorted snowskin mooncakes ($50+ for a box of 8) and a selection of the more traditional baked mooncakes ($50-59+ for a box of 4).
Apart from the highly lyrical language they have used from their press release ("evoking feelings of mysticism and excitement") of which I have a general aversion for, I was genuinely intrigued by the ingredients used. Sakura Truffle, Baileys Truffle and Mint to tempt your tastebuds, for one.
I have to say that while the texture of all the snowskin mooncakes were generally fine, as with the thickness of the skin (meaning that the mooncakes were sufficiently full of filling), I found the lotus paste they use inside the mooncakes much too oily. I guess that's a tradeoff when you want your paste to be smooth...
|Clockwise from top left: Black Sesame & White Lotus Snowskin, Bailey's Truffle & Mint, Lychee & Lychee Snowskin and Sakura Truffle & White Lotus Snowskin|
Mu Yao: First up was the exotic looking Black Sesame & White Lotus Paste With Mochi in Snowskin mooncake (wah, so long the name). Sprinkled with pretty gold dust, the mooncake tasted richly decadent and very evenly sweet, even though it was quite heavy on the palate because of the oily lotus paste. The sweetness wasn't cloying, however, and it was pretty good actually. My family members all remarked that they thought this was the best mooncake of the four.
Xin Li: The most striking moon cake among the four is the Black Sesame and White Lotus Paste with Mochi in Snowskin with its mysterious dark skin and a gold imprint of the Imperial Park restaurant’s logo, a new addition to the family of snowskin mooncakes this year. The sesame flavour was rather faint and the addition of the mocha makes it difficult to cut it into segments.
Mu Yao: The Lychee & Lychee Snowskin mooncake was next, touted as their best-seller. The taste was just like it's namesake — Lychee, and more lychee. Unfortunately for me though, it wasn't quite my thing, for I wasn't too big a fan of lychee. It didn't have the fruity sweet fragrance of a lychee, and I thought it didn't go too well with the texture of the snowskin. This was a fruity overload.
Xin Li: The white Lychee and Lychee in Snowskin is the easier to cut among the four but I found the lychee flavour to be overwhelming.
Mu Yao: I tried the Sakura Truffle with White Lotus Paste In Snowskin mooncake next. I loved this one. The sakura accents weren't too sharply overpowering (aka it didn't smell like I was swallowing a bottle of perfume) and complemented the overall sweetness of the lotus and the white chocolate truffle inside quite nicely. The white chocolate truffle had another layer of pink inside, of which I suspected to be some sakura infusion thingy. It may strike some as quite sweet, but I liked it, as did my brother.
Would the "devilishly decadent" Bailey's Truffle & Mint Snowskin mooncake fare better? It wasn't as creamy as I thought it would be, but I could taste very strong minty accents and the alcoholic kick was there. Perhaps I should have tried it first, because it felt as though it didn't quite match up to the full-bodied sweetness of the other mooncakes. But still, it was quite a refreshing kick and I would recommend this if you like minty things.
Xin Li: My family generally favoured the Sakura Truffle and White Lotus Paste in Snowskin and Baileys Truffle and Mint in Snowskin mooncakes because the combination of chocolate truffles and the white lotus paste worked well here especially the Baileys Truffle & Mint in Snowskin. My only gripe with all the snowskin mooncakes is its oily lotus paste.
Mu Yao: My experience with the baked mooncakes was much better, however.
Xin Li: While the snowskin mooncakes were underwhelming, the traditional baked mooncakes were excellent. The paste was smooth and it the flavours in general were well-balanced without going overboard on the avant-garde. These are the kinds of mid-autumn treats that one I will enjoy without any hesitation with some quality Chinese or Japanese tea.
Xin Li: One of my favourites among the baked mooncakes was the Golden Jade with Duo Nuts ($55 for a box of 4), a new vegetarian addition in this year. The green lotus paste has a pleasant and fragrant pandan flavour and the addition of nuts adds a great crunchy layer of texture to the mooncake.
Mu Yao: I first tried the Golden Jade With Duo Nuts. While I found the pandan flavour fairly full-bodied (as Xin Li had mentioned), it didn't smell aromatic enough. However, what was good about this was the skin of the mooncake — not too oily or thick, emanating a slight fragrance that whetted my appetite.
Xin Li: Classics like the White Lotus Seed Paste with Double Yolk ($59+ for a box of 4) as well as the White Lotus Seed Paste with Macadamia Nuts ($50+ for a box of 4) were great too. In short, I enjoyed the baked mooncakes by Imperial Park a lot but the snowskin mooncakes needs more fundamental fine-tuning before attempting to be too adventurous on the flavours.
Mu Yao: In contrast to the snowskin mooncakes, the white lotus paste here was not oily at all, and smooth. While not the most fragrant I've tasted, what I also appreciated about this double-yolk mooncake was the fact that the yolks were not oily at all — which makes it less gelak and easier on the tummy/calories. Finally, there was just the right amount of saltiness to the sweetness of the lotus paste.
Mu Yao: And I've saved the best mooncake (in my humble opinion), for the last. This is what baked mooncakes should taste like, unpretentious (not going for the avant-garde mish-mash of flavours/ingredients), wholesome, and most importantly, heartwarming. The White Lotus Seed Paste with Macademia Nuts mooncake had a right mix of savoury nuttiness finely melded with the creamy sweetness of the lotus paste, with a thin skin and filling that tasted not too heavy or oily. Perfect.
And that, for me, was all it took to get me enchanted.
Park Hotel Group
Mooncakes are available from the following:
Grand Park City Hall
10 Coleman Street
Tel: +65 6432 5888
Grand Park Orchard
278 Orchard Road
Tel: +65 6603 8855
Park Hotel Clarke Quay
1 Unity Street
Tel: +65 6593 8855
For Mooncake Orders,
Please Call 6432 5555 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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