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8 CNY snacks to usher in the new year, Takashimaya

It’s pretty in pink at Takashimaya this CNY 2018 as local and overseas bakeries bring forth their best cookies to the table. Littlemissramen visited the fair on the first day of the event and here are my top favourites.

1. Yuzu Orange, Divine Cookies

This is my top favourite because after eating all the heavy and dense foodstuff everybody stuffed you with (because CNY), this unassuming, petite biscuit magically breaks the tardiness with it’s refreshing and light texture. You’re good to chiong again, and you’re welcome.

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2. Purple Boo-Berry, The Cookie Museum

Unfortunately the sales girl stopped me before I could get a better picture.

The name doesn’t do justice to what’s inside the cookie. It has purple wheat, purple corn, blueberry, oats and white chocolate. How’s that for a super power healthy cookie? You probably can’t tell there’s so much goodness in one single cookie because of the intense flavour of the blueberry, but I’m not complaining. the taste is excellent. These do not come cheap but they’re definitely worth a try.

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3. Bak Kut Teh Cookies, Old Seng Choong

Having this around will definitely break the silence during awkward CNY gatherings. Kampong Spirit also carries other unique flavours such as cereal prawn, but I felt that the Bak Kut Teh was the most outstanding.

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4. Caramel Oat Cookies, Kele

Yet another healthy cookie on the list this year. Those watching your weight will definitely feel less guilty munching this snack. I do shudder at the thought of an oat cookie, but caramel makes everything taste and sound good for some reason. Side point: Kele’s infographics are way too cute!

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5. Pink Champagne, Christine’s by The Cookie Museum

Okay I’m familiar with champagne in mooncakes but champagne in cookies? Now that’s something new, and definitely a crowd pleaser. Pink Champagne not only has liqueur, but also rose petals, grapefruit and cereal within. While the alcoholic tones weren’t particularly obvious, the grapefruit and rose petals certainly helped to carry the flavour through.

6. Three Layers White Cloudy Cookies, The Bakerhaus

If you’re tired of eating too much of the crumbly cookie texture, then I suppose the Three Layers White Cloudy Cookie would be a nice alternative. In all honesty the name of the cookie sounds a little silly, but trust me, you’ll be wanting your second piece in no time. There’s a crumbly layer yes, but quickly you’ll also feel an airy, sweet meringue layer.

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7. Salted Egg Potato Chips, Aunty Esther

The salted egg hype has been given a new breath of air because of the recent Straits Times article. I would say that their chips are really light yet the salted egg flavour is both creamy and gao.

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8. Lychee Kueh Bangkit, Butter Studio

Kueh Bangkit is one of my childhood favourites and I’m so glad Butter Studio still has the lychee flavoured ones this year. I ate this last year and made a mental note to find them again this year and so I did.

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Bonus: CNY Hampers, Asian Treasures

If you’re feeling generous this year and would like to up your hamper gifting game, do check out Asian Treasures for their CNY hampers. I particularly like this year’s hampers because apart from the usual Chinese delicacies like abalone, Asian Treasures’ hampers have incorporated local bakes like salted egg yolk cookies.

The Takashimaya fair runs from now till 14 Feb 18.

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Imperial Treasures Nan Bei, Takashimaya

Go!!!

Imperial Treasures Nan Bei Takashimaya is my favourite place to go when I’m craving for good dim sum. Many would think this place is super atas just by its looks and name, but in reality the prices here are rather justified for the standards and comfort.

Xiao Long Bao, $6.80.

I always lookout for the thickness of the skin, as well as the amount and flavour of the soup. It is rather difficult to make a XLB with a thin skin that remains unbroken when you pick it up with your chopsticks. By the way, you should pick up your XLB by pinching your chopsticks close to the knot. Happy to say that the XLB at Imperial Treasures Nan Bei met my standards.

Siew Mai, $6.20. Har Kau, $6.80.

Typical dishes for a dim sum meal. Again, the skins of the siew mai and har kau were rather thin and easy on the palate. This is unlike some other har kau where the skins are thick and starchy.

Shrimp Cheong Fun, $7.

I loved this dish. The sauce was the right amount of salty, and the cheong fun was light.

You Tiao Cheong Fun, $7.

I hardly see this at dim sum shops, but when I do, it comes already soaked in the sauce, making it soggy. Here, they separate the sauces so you get maximum crispyness. The you tiao itself was super fluffy and not oily at all.

Roasted Pork, $12.

Everyone knows that a good roasted pork depends on the texture of the pork skin, followed by the ratio of fats to lean meat. This dish was well done.

Pork Ribs, $5.30.

Well if there was one dish I would skip, this would be it. Not that it’s horrible, but it wasn’t out of the ordinary for me.

La Mian with Hot and Sour Soup, $12.

I thought this would taste ordinary, but it was surprisingly tasty. The balance of spicyness against the sour tinge was well executed, and the dish is kinda addictive contrary to the jelat impression it gives.

Liu Sha Bao, $5.80.

The Liu Sha Bao here is one of the best Liu Sha Baos in Singapore. There’s more custard than the bun can handle, the texture of the custard is smooth, and the salted egg yolk taste is gao. A must try at Imperial Treasures Nan Bei.

Daily Soup, $28.

The daily soup is good for about 6-8 pax. They will first scoop just the soup for everyone (because afterall, all the essence of the meat and ingredients are in the soup), then lay out the edible ingredients on a plate. I didn’t try the meat, but my guests said it was soft and tender.

Osmanthus Jelly, $4.80.

Great way to end the meal. Look at how gao the Osmanthus jelly is!!! I could finish the whole plate by myself.

Overall, Imperial Treasures Nan Bei is on the pricy side, but you can be assured that the quality of the food and service standards matches your dollar. If you want to celebrate a family member’s birthday but think that zichar is too common and boring, why not consider this place?

Do make your reservations early if you’re planning to dine on weekends as they’re usually quite packed (I made reservations for lunch a day before and couldn’t get a good time. Had to start my “lunch” at 1030am).

391 Orchard Road, #05-12, S(238873)

+65 6738 1238

Mondays to Saturdays: 11am to 10pm

Sundays and PHs: 1030am to 10pm

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Top 10 Unique Snowskin Mooncake Flavours for Mid Autumn Festival 2017, Takashimaya

Pre Mid Autum Festival – my favourite time of the year is here! It is only during this period where I get to have 8 fanciful snowskin flavours all in one box for desserts for a full month. Being a fan of quirky snowskin flavours, I constantly seek out the most unique flavours from the hundreds available yearly.


A convenient spot for all major mooncake players in Singapore for that quick and dirty overview is Takashimaya, which traditionally holds the biggest convention of mooncake booths.

After combing through close to 60 booths, I’ve picked out my top 10 favourite snowskin mooncakes based on uniqueness, taste and packaging.

#10 Mao Shan Wang Durian Crystal Mooncake, 155 South Bridge by Chui Lau Heung

Mao Shan Wang Durian Crystal Mooncake (screenshot from 155 Southbridge’s website).

The focus here is the crystal skin mooncake. While the taste of the durian is ordinary, the crystal skin is surely a conversation starter. Expect to be impressed by friends and family the moment these exquisite little mooncakes are served.

155 South Bridge also caught my eye with their charcoal baked mooncakes. Some of the flavours include Charcoal Baked Dragon Fruit with Shredded Coconut & Salty Egg, as well as Charcoal Baked Laksa Lotus Paste with Single Yolk.

Some of their packaging comes in what looks like a book, symbolising a story to be told over mooncakes and tea. It wont be an eye catcher for all, but their mooncake flavours can make up for it.

https://155southbridge.com/festive-promotions

#9 Prickly Pear with Bergamot, Goodwood Park Hotel



Prickly Pear with Bergamot (screenshot from Goodwood Park Hotel’s website).

Goodwood Park Hotel is well known for their snowskin. Every year, they come up with new flavours and this year is no exception. Their Prickly Pear with Bergamot has a slightly sourish taste with crunchy bites of diced pears. Definitely an enticing start to rounds of mooncake tasting. 

Goodwood Park Hotel has pretty nice boxes usually but this year they were a tad disappointing.

http://www.goodwoodparkhotel.com/mid-autumn-magic-2017-,promotions_viewItem_1491-en.html

#8 Salted Black Sesame Truffle, Baker’s Well

Baker’s Well clean cut, colourful, modern image is apparent in their snowskin mooncakes.

Salted Black Sesame Truffle (screenshot from Baker’s Well’s website).

We’ve all heard of salted caramel ice cream. But Salted Black Sesame Truffle is relatively new for me, and Baker’s Well did a good job with the pairing.


I love their colourful moon themed packaging! The colours are so playful your heart would flutter even before savouring their mooncakes. 

http://www.bakerswell.com/seasonal/#/mid-autumn-festival/

#7 Rosemary, Almond and Green Tea, Intercontinental Hotel 

Garden Collection (screenshot from Intercontinental Hotel’s website).

Intercontinental Hotel has herbs in their snowskin mooncakes. Yes, you read it right. Herbs! How unique and bold is that? The Rosemary, Almond and Green Tea Mooncake might turn you off at first glance, but you will get used to the idea after a while and hey, this actually makes for a good dessert with tea. 

The rose pattern is also an additional visual to their theme of Garden Collection. Let’s be honest here, how many companies would rather emboss their company name on the mooncake? 

http://singapore.intercontinental.com/offers/mid-autumn-treasures

#6 Osmanthus and Walnut, Mandarin Oriental

Osmanthus and Walnut (screenshot from Mandarin Oriental’s website).

We’ve all heard of osmanthus and goji berry, but Mandarin Oriental has tweaked that slightly to include walnuts instead of goji berry. Walnuts are such good brain food, so it’s hard to say no to this. 

Mandarin Oriental’s mooncake box wins hands down. Elegant and classic, definitely a presentable gift for your parents-in-law.

https://mandarinoriental.oddle.me/

#5 Bubble Tea with Butterscotch, Conrad Centennial

Right most: Bubble Tea with Butterscotch (screenshot from Conrad Centennial’s website).

My eyes lit up at the sound of butterscotch. I’ve always only eaten them either in candy form (think Chelsea sweets) or in ice cream tubs. Conrad’s Bubble Tea with Butterscotch sounds really sweet and sticky, but it’s really addictive. The bubble tea adds a tinge of tea fragrance to the butterscotch, making sure this mooncake is still suitable for your 赏月 (moon viewing).

I call this the treasure chest. Bulky, but impressive for sure. They have a limited Luxe Golden Flower, fitting for the Empress Dowager at home (i.e., your mom or wife).

http://www.connoisseur.sg/mooncakes/

#4 Cinnamon Red Bean with Spiced Wine, Regent

Right: Cinnamon Red Bean with Spiced Wine (photo taken from Regent’s mooncake brochure).

Finally, a snowskin mooncake for that man in your life. Regent’s Cinnamon Red Bean with Spiced Wine is fragrant and well balanced. I was afraid that the cinnamon would overpower the rest but Regent’s choice of spiced wine was a good complement. I would imagine this would be a hit with the mature gentlemen around. 

The mooncakes come in individual tin boxes stored in a unique carry-and-go wooden box. Very apt design for their spice themed mooncakes. Good one, Regent! 

http://www.regenthotels.com/regent-singapore/overview/news-events/mid-autumn-flavours-mooncakes

#3 Assorted Truffle Yolks, Chocoelf

Photo taken from Chocoelf’s mooncake brochure.

Chocoelf’s flavours are not unique, but their idea of a flavoured truffle yolk is somewhat surprising. Many mooncake companies today prefer to have a single flavour as it’s entire filling, but Chocoelf wraps it’s truffle yolk with the traditional lotus paste. I thought this would cause the mooncake to lose most of its flavour, but I was wrong. The truffle yolks (actually I just call it the jelly layer) are rather intense and I really liked the texture. 

Their best seller is the Intense Dark Chocolate Truffle Yolk. If you look around, chocolate mooncakes are no longer in fashion probably because chocolate just does not work as a mooncake but somehow Chocoelf gets it right. After all, they are a chocolate company.
Best of all? No sugar added! Perfect for those health conscious. 

Chocoelf’s packaging not really impressive. However, they allow you to fix your own corporate logo if you purchase 10 boxes or more.

http://www.chocoelf.com/shop.php?view=items&c=4

#2 Crème Brûlée & Blueberry Cheese, Peony Jade

 Crème Brûlée & Blueberry Cheese (screenshot from Peony Jade’s website).

Peony Jade’s Crème Brûlée & Blueberry Cheese was a surprise for me. I thought the blueberry cheese would make me jelat after a while and was quite hesitant to try it at first but the Crème Brûlée saved the day. This milky icy texture is somewhat akin to eating ice cream. Yums.


Apart from that, Peony Jade also has a cute little pink piggy snowskin mooncake – Silver Lotus Paste with Egg Yolk Custard, which happens to be low sugar. 

http://peonyjade.com/award-wining-mooncakes/

#1 Assorted, Grand Hyatt
Screenshot taken from Grand Hyatt’s online order form.

Grand Hyatt bagged the #1 spot for me because they’ve exceeded my expectations not once, but four times! They’ve got Peanut Butter Sea Salt Truffle, Chocolate Mint Fondant, Strawberry Lime Tequila Truffle, and Violette & Tanqueray No. TEN Gin. Most mooncake companies have only one or two star flavours but Grand Hyatt – wow. Just wow. The team at Mezza9 really did a good job this year. 

Alas! Their boxes aren’t as fancy as their mooncakes. It also comes in two designs – 2016’s and this year’s. Apparently, if you request for the 2016 box, you get to save $3.

http://www.singapore.grand.hyattrestaurants.com/shopatmezza9/two-new-mooncake-flavours-for-2017-,promotions_viewItem_1811-en.html

# Bonus Mao Shan Wang, Golden Moments

New to the mooncake market, Golden Moments only have one product on the table – Mao Shan Wang Durian Mooncake. While their MSW isn’t as strong as the other major brands out there, Golden Moments’ company philosophy is what attracted me. The three Singaporeans behind this company hopes to use durian delicacies to bring families closer together. Such a simple yet sincere vision. I hope they will continue to work towards this!

https://www.goldenmoments.sg/product-page/mao-shan-wang-mooncake

Tips for shopping at Takashimaya’s Mid Autumn Festival 2017:

1. Bring your arsenal of credit cards to the fair. Different credit cards are entitled to different discounts for the same product. Bring along a pen so you can write the details down on the brochures.

2. Go early in the morning. You do not want to miss out on what would be the best mooncake you’ve ever eaten just because you failed to get a tasting sample due to the massive crowd.

3. Always ask about the longest possible storage period for the snowskin mooncakes. Some snowskin mooncakes have to be consumed within 5 days. Alternatively, ask if you can pay now (for the discounts and availability of flavours) and collect closer to the date. 

4. Try not to bring along your baby prams, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend noon. You’ll find it super hard to navigate, and from a safety perspective, a huge crowd means people won’t be able to avoid tripping over your pram.

5. Finally, do a quick search online prior to purchasing to see if you’re indeed getting the best deal. Some hotels offer their own discounts online but this usually means that you have to collect it from the hotel itself.

The Mid Autumn Festival fair at Takashimaya is happening from now till 4 Oct 17. 

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7 unique CNY snacks to get from Takashimaya

Okay, so the time of the year is here again where you try to dodge your overly concerned relatives’ questions of when you are going to get married and have kids.

I figured that a good way out would be to divert their attention to the interesting tasting snacks sitting atop your coffee table. Here’s my top 7 list of goodies that you can get from the Takashimaya fair (not in order of favourites):

1. Yuzu Pineapple Tart, Old Seng Choong

The light and refreshing yuzu is well balanced, not too overpowering, but yet not overshadowed by the pineapple taste.

2. Fragrant Lychee Cookies, Peony Jade

Lychee cookies are not new in the market, but having tried some other lychee cookies at the fair, Peony Jade’s one came out tops for me.

3. Sea Salt Almond, Butter Studio

The sea salt can get a little subtle and non obvious unless someone points it out to you, but once you get the hang of it there’s no stopping! 

4. Shrimp Laksa, The Cookie Museum

No surprises from Cookie Museum, which is know to always experiment with their cookie flavours. The unique thing about this cookie is that there’s a dried shrimp on each and every piece of cookie. Presentation is gold.

5. Rose Tea Cookie, Home’s Favourite

For the tea loving party people out there.

6. Almond Orange, Ollella

Ollella is well known for their pastries, but their Almond Orange didn’t disappoint. Plus point for the simple yet moden packaging. While you’re there, do try their Kueh Lapis as well.

7. CNY Hampers, Asian Treasures


Asian Treasures specialises in hampers and the only do this once a year, at Takashimaya. All hampers consist of at least a can of abalone, coupled with various premium items such as Buddha Jump Over the Wall, dried scallops, dried mushrooms, etc. Bound to make all mothers happy and definitely a conversation starter, these highly decorative and auspicious looking hampers are also a great gift for businesses. 

Talking about abalones, besides the usual Australia and New Zealand big abalones, Asian Treasures also carry Golden Amidori abalones – mixture of Japan and Taiwan baby abalones. Imagine serving your guests with one whole baby abalone each!

The CNY fair is now on at Takashimaya Square, B2, from now till 26 Jan 17. 

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