Triumphs in mooncake innovation

The Professional edition judges (from left) Chu, Tan, Esther, Lau and Yong facing the challenge of tasting durian mooncakes. — Photos: SIA HONG KIAU/The Star

THE flaky, melt-in-your-mouth Teochew Mooncake by Ruyi, one of the properties under The Oriental Group of Restaurants, won the judges’ hearts (and stomachs) and was crowned champion in the Traditional Baked category at The Star Mooncake Awards 2020.

The second and third spots went to One World Hotel Petaling Jaya’s Pandan Lotus Paste (Low Sugar) and Grand Imperial Group’s Melon Seed with Red Bean Paste, respectively.

The Teochew Mooncake is a collaborative effort by the kitchen teams at Ruyi and Yu in creating a Muslim-friendly option, Ruyi executive director Lyn Siew said.

It is also known as a thousand-layer mooncake, in reference to the intricate swirls on its flaky pastry.

The Oriental Group of Restaurants successfully defended its crown in the Traditional Baked category, having won the top spot in last year’s awards with its Shanghai Mooncake.

The Star Mooncake Awards 2020 – Professional edition saw 19 top hotels and restaurants in the Klang Valley submitting a total of 47 of their best mooncakes.

The Mid-Autumn Festival treats were judged based on aspects such as taste, authenticity, creativity and presentation.

The event was organised by Star Media Group Kuali food portal and StarMetro in partnership with 988 radio station and Dimsum Entertainment.

The judges comprised MIB College (formerly Malaysian Institute of Baking) director Yong Mei Kei, StarMetro deputy news editor Esther Chandran, Star TV senior producer Ian Lau, 988 deejay Joycelyn Chu as well as baking enthusiast and social media foodie Iris Tan.

This year’s categories were Traditional Baked, Snow Skin, Creative, Durian, Best Packaging (mooncake box) and Best Presentation (table decor).

Esther who is also on the organising committee said the team decided to throw caution to the wind and hold the awards in spite of the Covid-19 gloom as life must go on.

“Organising The Star Mooncake Awards 2020 provides a platform to showcase some of the best mooncakes in town, not forgetting the unique flavours, ” she said.

Acknowledging the fewer number of participants this year, she said it was nonetheless heartening to see hotels and restaurants which were adversely affected during the movement control order stepping forward with some very innovative flavours.

First-time judge Chu shared that she did not expect having to taste so many mooncakes in one sitting, laughingly adding that she probably ate enough to last several years.

“It is nice to know that low sugar options were also among the entries. I personally prefer the snow skin and creative mooncakes featured in the awards, ” said Chu.

The Creative category was for mooncakes that did not fall under the traditional nor snow skin categories.

They featured ingredients that were unique and not commonly seen in traditional mooncakes, such as chocolate or cheese.

Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur was a clear winner with its Ping Pei Dark Chocolate with Almond.

Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur came in second with its Snow Skin Cheese with Strawberry and White Lotus Paste.

Two of Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur’s creations tied for third place – Yuzu Calamansi with Confit Orange Peel and Signature Illy Coffee Snow Skin with Soft Peanut Mochi Heart.

“I liked the Dark Chocolate Mooncake for its rich chocolate taste, while the Yuzu Calamansi Mooncake offered a refreshing twist, ” said Chu, adding that she enjoyed the latter so much she had a bigger slice.

Yong, who is also a chef instructor said, “I’m aware of the use of yuzu in desserts and cakes but never in mooncakes, so the yuzu gave these mooncakes a wow factor.

“I personally like traditional mooncakes but the creative mooncakes I tried actually made me change my mind, such as New World’s Pomegranate Lotus with Raisin.”

According to Le Meridien’s pastry chef Orange Chong Huan Ling the Yuzu Calamansi with Confit Orange Peel had two kinds of citrus – calamansi and yuzu as well as orange peel soaked with yuzu puree.

The hotel’s Illy Coffee Snow Skin Mooncake was a flavour introduced in 2019.

In the Snow Skin category, The Oriental Group of Restaurants’ White Lotus Paste with Salted Egg Yolk stole the show.

Award newcomer EQ Kuala Lumpur’s Yuzu Pandan with Pumpkin Seeds took the second spot, while Dorsett Grand Subang’s Dorsett Signature Blue Mooncake claimed third place.

Noting that there was innovative use of ingredients and flavour combinations, such as pomegranate and raisin, returning judge Tan felt that the pastry chefs could do more in terms of the skins for snow skin mooncakes and mooncake design.

“They can play around with different moulds, incorporate textures into the skin and use natural colouring from fruits or plants to give the skin some colour, ” she said.

“Snow skin is soft in texture and pliable, so the chefs can be more creative in presenting this kind of mooncakes.”

Tan, who advocates the use of natural flavouring and colouring, said non-natural ingredients would affect the product’s taste and turn people off.

Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s Snow Skin with Musang King Durian triumphed again in the Durian category. The hotel won the same title in the 2019 awards and in previous editions.

Hilton Kuala Lumpur’s Heavenly Gold was in second place, while tied for third place were Dorsett Grand Subang’s Premium Musang King Durian and Mandarin Oriental’s Snow Skin Musang King Durian.

“Concorde’s durian mooncake stood out because we could taste the richness of the durian fruit and there was a good balance between the skin and filling, ” said Yong.

“As a first-time judge, it was eye-opening to see the diversity of mooncakes made by our local talents and I am just blown away by their efforts.”

The boxes that held the mooncakes were also a highlight.

Shangri-La Hotel won the judges’ votes with its charming “Over the Moon”-themed lantern in the Best Packaging category.

Le Meridien’s jewellery case featuring a vintage trunk design was ranked second, while New World Petaling Jaya Hotel’s festive tiffin carrier came in third.

Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre Hotel and Residences’ Oriental-themed decor won the top spot in the Best Presentation category.Resorts World Genting’s elegant teahouse setting took second place, while New World and Dorsett tied in third spot with their red- and blue-hued decor, respectively.

As a fan of traditional baked mooncakes, Lau opined that the mooncakes submitted this year were not quite authentic in the traditional sense.

“I felt that the hotels put in a lot more effort into the range of mooncake flavours and presentations last year, ” he said.

“Hence the standouts for me, this year, were from the snow skin and creative categories.”

To view the full list of award winners as well as to get more mooncake stories and recipes throughout September, visit or scan the QR code below.

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