Time really flies…because in less than a month, we will be celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival once again. Traditionally commemorated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, this is the night where families gather to carry lanterns, drink tea and of course savour mooncakes under the moonlight, which is also believed to be at its brightest and fullest during this period too.
This year, we celebrate the joyous and colourful festival on 27 September 15. But before you rush out to hit the stores for mooncake season, these are our picks for 2015 shortlisted just for you:
Szechuan Court, Fairmont Singapore
The talented lady behind Szechuan Court’s mooncakes each year, Chef Mandy Yeo is back again with two new flavours to add to her charming collection of Mid-Autumn treasures. Introducing the Yuzu Passion Snowskin ($62 for a box of 8) and Autumn Treasures Baked Mooncake ($67 for a box of 4), the former is a lovely combination of Yuzu infused in white chocolate praline which is both creamy and decadent with touch of tartness to cut through the sweetness while the latter is much more wholesome alternative which the traditionalists would approve of. The usual hot favourites and best sellers such as the Champagne Truffle & Chocolate Ganache ($64 for a box of 8) and Double Yolk in White Lotus Paste ($69 for a box of 4) are also available.
Karafuru Desserts is a Japanese-inspired cafe specialising in designer éclairs and yogurt parfaits. Set against an all-white backdrop with wooden accents and tessellated panels, the style is very minimalistic as the focus is on the glass display case of brightly-coloured, intricately-designed eclairs bathed in a glossy finish. Offering twelve varieties (four of which contain alcohol) daily, these Karafuru éclairs are priced between $6-$7. The yogurt parfaits on the other hand are all $16 with light fruity flavours such as the Yuzu-Cha, intense chocolatey ones like the Gianduja or Pancakes, which was inspired by the actual pancake dish. There are six choices in total for the parfaits.
The cafe only opens at 1pm and because we we arrived a little before that, we were just in time to catch the staff bringing out trays of charming oblong-shaped, cream-filled pastries and arranging them into neat rows according to their individual flavours. Everything looked so good, we were half tempted to order one of each.
Although 9 August 15 has passed and many Golden Jubilee Celebrations are now over, there are still many reasons to celebrate. For one, the Crystal Jade Group has extended their celebrations by launching a series of delectable limited edition dim sum and xiaolongbao creations, together with other attractive promotions that are available from now till 30 September 15.
Available at Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao and Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, the chefs have cleverly conjured up Chilli Crab and Hainanese Chicken Rice varieties of Xiaolongbao. While the Hainanese Chicken Rice xiaolongbao paired with sautéed ginger dip was mild in taste, the Chilli Crab xiaolongbao packed a punch with its generous crabmeat sitting in a pool of spicy broth. Unlike other renditions of Chilli Crab xiaolongbao which may be a tad too sweet, Crystal Jade Group’s spicier and saltier version was tailored to my taste buds and left me wanting for more. Having two Chilli Crab xiaolongbao in a steamer basket of four was simply insufficient; I literally had to ask (beg) for more.
The Bakehouse by Carpenter & Cook is by no surprise, opened by the same people behind Carpenter & Cook- the “Alice In Wonderland” vintage themed cafe serving up freshly baked pastries in Lorong Kilat. Fast forward three years later and C&C introduces The Bakehouse, also located in the west and at the ground level of Alexandra Central next to IKEA Queensway.
Unlike their flagship outlet, The Bakehouse features more savouries such as wood-fired pizzas, tapas, gourmet sandwiches and pastas, as they cater to the lunch crowds from the offices in the area. Not forgetting however, their homemade cakes, scones and quiches are also still available on display. Decor wise, The Bakehouse stays true to the C&C style with vintage paraphernalia, sturdy wooden cabinetry and quirky wall-mounted lanterns for lighting.
Priced at $12, their sandwiches had options ranging from Chorizo, Crab Cakes, Portobello and Grilled Chicken. We had their Pulled Pork with homemade pear compote and rocket. Decently portioned but none too memorable because while the pork was delightfully tender, a bolder flavour profile for the marinate would probably have tied this whole sandwich together more cohesively.
Lepark, the newest hipster hangout at the rooftop carpark of People’s Park Complex has a laid-back vibe and grungy attitude to boot. Playing on the Malay word- “Lepak”, which means to loaf around or to spend one’s time aimlessly i.e. “chillaxing”, this refreshing F&B concept is all about comfort fusion bar grub- tapas style, craft beers and a creative space for arts and music to come together. Since its inception into our local food scene few months back, Lepark has already played host to multiple live music gigs, outdoor movie screenings and even getai shows- all in a bid to support local musicians and artists, and promote our culture.
Getting to Lepark itself is a bit of a challenge and requires strict adherence to the following set of directions or you might find yourself a little lost: take the lift up to level 5 and climb up the dingy albeit dodgy flight of stairs to level 6 where you will reach this hole-in-a-wall opening with its aluminium shutter sliding doors, which leads to a spacious, airy canteen-like space.
Ordering of food is done at one end of the counter while drinks on the other, and your order number will be flashed on the electronic display when the food is ready for collection. Simple, straightforward and mostly self-serviced. With that said, prices are all nett.
The menu offerings were fairly decent and affordable. Tapas such as Chunky Spam Fries, Poached Chicken Sushi and Otah Bomb start from $8, Spicy Seafood Salad at $12, Mains of Slipper Lobster & Crabmeat Tom Yum Pasta from $18, and Shared Platters ranging between $18 – $40.