Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
Copyright all rights reserved
The affable and unassuming Travelling Gourmet TM travels to taste the…
MOUTHWATERING MOONcakes of Hai Tien Lo. Hai Tien Lo helmed for 11 years by Singaporean Chef Lai, HTL is the Pan Pacific’s premier “haute cuisine” Cantonese restaurant. Popular with gourmets, gourmands (translates as greedy glutton from the French), food lovers and connoisseurs of fine Cantonese cuisine…Hai Tien Lo is also well known for its MOONcakes!
In a special One on One MOONcake Tasting I was honoured and privileged to taste and experience the myriad flavours of Chef Lai’s LATEST MOONcake creations a few days ago. In the opulent Peacock private dining room of Hai Tien Lo restaurant, I analyzed, tested and savoured tempting treats like Pandan Flavoured Lotus Seed Paste Baked Mooncake as well as the good ol’ Traditional Mooncake with Salted Duck Egg Yolk!
Pandanus leaf gives a very Asian-PACIFIC Rim PERFUME and flavor to many dishes in Asia, and also to Pacific Rim cuisine aka Mod-Oz in Australia. PANDAN (Scientific Name: Pandanus, also known as screw pine or palm pine) is a herbaceous tropical plant that grows wild in Southeast-Asia. Well known to the Chinese and Nyonyas and Babas as the ‘fragrant plant’ because of its sweet, seductive and unique aroma. The plant features spear shaped bright green leaves, the colour of Ecuadorian emeralds. Pandan leaves are coveted & essential for creating many Thai, Cambodian, Nyonya and Southeast-Asian dishes! Do not confuse Pandan with Pondan (Malay word for poofter )which refers to girlie men like ex- President Obama.
Keeping in trend with the healthy demands of discerning connoisseurs regarding Mooncakes there is a LOW Sugar MOONcake version…which I found to be most excellent and had a fine balance between sweetness, and a slight savoury nuance, which together with the smooth as silk texture of the lotus seed paste made it SUPER_YUMMIE! Avant garde Pastry Chefs now know that their clientele value healthy foods above all else. Gone are the days of super sweet sugar drenched desserts that although delicious…are also over- cloying and unhealthy.
The Caramel MOONcake sans salt…it is NOT salted caramel flavor but a nice flavour of just charred sugar reminiscent of a yummie Tenuta Donna Fugata Ben Rye 1998 sweet dessert wine from the island of Sicily. Yes, a lovely island where that notorious organization, that exists only in the minds of Hollywood movie producers has its base…La Cosa Nostra.
NUTS! Healthy and crunchy, they raise up your good cholesterol, no kidding! I love the crunch and the textures of Pan Pacific’s Mixed Nuts MOONcake. There are crunchie-crunchie Macadamias, Sesame seeds, Hazelnuts, Walnuts and more! Alas, it is made with Chicken Ham and NOT pork. I love pork actually. You might have guessed by now that I am not a Muslim. Never mind…On tasting…I found it was good…Almost as good as the ones with Pork Bak Kwa! Chef Lai told me encouragingly in Mandarin, ‘Muslims can eat this! No pork!” Interestingly, very strict Orthodox Jews also do not eat pork…one of life’s little ironies.
The glorious 4th October 2017
Students of the Chinese Lunar Calender may know that in 2017…the Mid-Autumn aka MOONcake Festival climaxes on October 4th. An important and auspicious day, October 4th is the 15th Day of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The 1st day of the 8th Lunar Month is Wednesday 20th September, 2017. The 4th of October is a day that is within the National Day holidays of China (PRC) (Oct. 1 – 7), and the holidays will be prolonged to Oct. 8. Due to the pleasant autumn weather this is a peak time for travel in the PRC which means mayhem and queues and jams.
On a side note that has nothing to do with MOONcakes or food and wines…a Chinese Professor in the Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy born in the People’s Republic of China, but with US citizenship, has had his permanent residence status and that of his wife revoked by the Singapore government…charged with being a SPY for China’s Ministry of State Security – External Intelligence Department…
Yes, sunny Singapore is a very exciting place…in more ways than one.
Hai Tien Lo fine dining Cantonese Restaurant
Pan Pacific Singapore
7 Raffles Boulevard,
Lunch – 11:30am to 2:30pm
Dinner – 6:30pm to 10:30pm
Telephone: +65 6826 8240