Mid-Autumn Festival: Durian Mooncake in Hong Kong

It was the mid-Autumn festival last weekend. Quite drizzly in parts but it did clear up to a full moon on the day itself.

The day before, that is on the 8th of September, I was in Tsing Yi and in the Maritime mall waiting to meet up with a friend. In the concourse area was a typical exhibition booth space where many bakeries, restaurants and candy shops were hawking their wares. Of course, most of it was festival related and moon cakes were the main feature.

As I strolled around the booths, I was hunting for something very specific. Guess what…? It wasn’t durian moon cakes. I really like the piggy in the basket moon cake biscuit. It’s essentially the dough skin of the baked moon cakes which is crafted into the shape of a piglet. Most of the time, it’s the dough all the way through but sometimes they include the lotus seed filling which is super delicious. Anyway, it’s getting harder and harder to find a good one. I used to love the ones that the Shangri La in Singapore made, shaped in lions or goldfish (they no longer do this).

Would I have more luck in Hong Kong, I wondered….

Well, quite suddenly, I halted in my tracks. I spotted a stall selling moon cakes with durian. It was the only stall I had seen in the entire exhibition. Just to make sure that this was the case, I walked around twice more and confirmed that this was indeed the only stall.

Durian mooncake pricelist

Durian moon cake price list

This was certainly the most attractively designed price list among all the stalls (to me anyway). You can see how the price escalates to almost double between the D24 and the Mao Shan Wang fillings. All these are snow skin chilled durian moon cakes only, no baked ones. The price on the left indicates the per box cost, while the price on the right indicates how much it costs per cake, if you wish to buy them individually. Interesting that the most expensive one is a durian which I think is called the golden phoenix (last on the list).

Only 2 boxes of D24 mooncakes left

Only 2 boxes of D24 mooncakes left

Now, a peep into the fridge to see the goods. The fridge looked empty except for 2 boxes of D24. These boxes came in a yellowy green hue. Not looking that festive to me, but I guess business was brisk.

See before you buy

See before you buy

A check on the other side of the booth revealed similarly good business for the more expensive varieties. A lady had just purchased a box, which you can see the sales person closing the box. I think it’s great that you need to see and check that you’re getting the right ones, and that they let you. It appeared that some of these boxes had been booked and bagged already, awaiting collection.

Durian mooncakes in Hong Kong

Durian mooncakes in Hong Kong

Clearly these durians are from Malaysia. It says 100% Malaysian Durians on the of the brochure. But WAIT. On the bottom of this brochure, it says “Product of Singapore”. Quite creative, sneaky and probably at a good profit… but that’s food globalization for you.

Did anyone have durian moon cakes this year? Please share your experience.

Ps. If you’re wondering if I managed to buy that piglet, I did, but it was the very last one, retailed at 22 HKD. It was from another booth but I wasn’t that impressed with the flavor. Sigh.

If you’re desperate for Durian at Changi Airport….

The Durian Mpire Stall at Terminal 3 Changi Airport

You can find a durian shop at Terminal 3, near the Sky Train.

I was on my way to Egypt via SQ a few weeks ago and had to transit through terminals at Changi Airport. It’s quite a nicely designed little place, very clean with no smells but bright lighting with the soothing pastel colors and a shape of a tree on its pillar. Imagine my surprise when I found a little shop selling durian products at the airport. Called “Durian Mpire” by the 717 trading company (well known in Singapore for their durian stall), this shop doesn’t actually sell the real thing but all the derivatives and processed products of durian.

Let me show you what I mean.

Various Durian dessert on offer

More durian desserts!

Well, what I went for in the end was the Durian Mini Mooncakes, I decided to buy some to take for our friends who have probably never heard of durian or mooncakes let alone tasted a durian mooncake. A box of nine sets you back about SGD 40 so it ain’t cheap but they do come in a nice tin box and the staff offer to wrap it in a special sealed plastic shrink wrap so that there is no smell. They seemed confident about it lasting more than 12 hours but I have to say that I would not recommend this to anyone. Anyway this is a seasonal offering, only during the mooncake festival. Otherwise its just the other pastries probably, which do not smell quite as much.

Durian Mini Mooncakes

Durian Mini mooncakes to take away

Now this was kind of funny, they had an extra signboard out front to advertise the “fresher” offerings like a hot durian pancake, a durian smoothie and durian waffles (not available according to the poster). I didn’t see any seating areas near the shop and was wondering how one would sit and enjoy the snacks while hot… and the durian smoothie seemed like a killer item to drink at the airport when they don’t really want you stinking up the plane or service areas!

Other Durian Offerings at Durian Mpire

And here is the story of how the company got started. I think you’ll find the owner’s motto quite amusing….

Durian 717 Founder’s Motto

Durian 717 Poster