When my editor asked me to write a story about where to get the best Teochew mooncakes in Singapore, I was flummoxed.
“Round, elaborately decorated, already covered in two articles,” I thought. “Why do we need another?”
But I have been ignorantly eating them all along. Pre-covid, a trip to Taipei usually ends with my father and I ducking in and out of airport souvenir stores to devour free samples of their flaky yam pastry, a descendant of Teochew mooncakes.
What are Teochew mooncakes?
What we think of as mooncakes in Singapore is of the Cantonese variety. For the Teochew kind, the crust takes the form of a crispy and flaky multi-layered puff pastry that’s been deep fried, and the filling is similar to the yam paste found in orh nee. Typically sweet and savoury, especially if you have yours with salted egg yolk, this mooncake is more than a dessert to the Teochew people, a Chinese ethnic group originally from the Chaoshan region of Guangdong province. The seasonal treat during the Mid-Autumn Festival is a delicious labour of love, and symbolises unity, gratitude, and familial ties.
In Singapore, most places that sell Teochew mooncakes still offer them in their classic guise with a choice of salted egg yolk, but more modern bakeries have begun to experiment with flavours from molten custard to Earl Grey. For the best experience, we recommend you warm yours in the toaster or oven for a few minutes for a decadent after-meal dessert. Check out the best Teochew mooncakes in Singapore for Mid-Autumn Festival 2023 below.
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Where to get the best Teochew mooncakes in Singapore for Mid-Autumn Festival 2023:
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East Ocean is a long-serving Teochew restaurant in Orchard. They have been dishing out the classics at their original home in Shaw Centre since 1992, and continue to do so from their current location in Ngee Ann City. Likewise, their crispy mooncakes follow their focus on traditions with a bite-sized version with yam, or yam with salted egg yolk.
(Image credit: East Ocean Teochew Restaurant)
From a kampong bakery to a brand recognised by Singapore’s National Heritage Board, Gin Thye has been making traditional Teochew-style pastries for over half a century. Now run by the founder’s second generation, it’s still a throwback to the old days with their yam mooncakes either with or without egg yolk. Got a Chinese wedding coming up? They also sell betrothal hampers tailored to Teochew, Cantonese, Hokkien, and Hainanese families.
(Image credit: @nt_chocophile/Instagram)
Jalan Besar bakery La Levain specialises in French pastries, but they also venture into Asian-style bakes thanks to pastry chef Wythe Soon’s background of growing up in a Malaysian family who ran a traditional Chinese bakery. Their versions keep the signature flaky crust but fills it with flavours such as Molten Salted Egg, Bobo Chacha, and Black Sesame Latte. The Bobo Chacha iteration is an easy favourite; the velvety taro pumpkin almond cream that’s encompassed by a flaky purple sweet potato crust is paired with a coconut mochi centre for a local twist.
(Image credit: La Lavain)
The Michelin-recognised Chinese restaurant brings back its popular flaky mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival with classic and unconventional fillings. Traditionalists can take heart in flavours such as yam with pumpkin and egg yolk, while the more adventurous can look forward to taro with molten salted egg yolk, and Japanese sweet potato.
(Image credit: @peonyjadesg/Instagram)
Taking after the ancient name for Shantou, Swatow restaurant delivers Teochew-style seafood restaurant year-round and some of the best yam mooncakes when Mid-Autumn Festival comes around. For the Mid-Autumn Festival 2023, expect flavours like the traditional Orh Nee, Yuan-Yang with a black and red bean paste, or the Flaky Teochew Custard Blossom Delight, which marries all three fillings with luscious custard. Regardless of which you choose, the mooncakes here are hand-made daily for maximum freshness and flakiness.
(Image credit: Swatow Restaurant)
The Pine Garden is a heartland bakery that has seen its ups and downs. Founded in Ang Mo Kio in 1984, they almost closed 12 years later due to competition from more modern bakeries, but owner Wei Chan took over his family business and refined their traditional pastries to great success. Besides the classic yam flavour, they offer a white lotus paste version with Nyonya filling, similar to a rice dumpling. Those who prefer their mooncakes savoury (we’re not judging) will enjoy the Crispy Skin mooncake. Inspired by Taiwan’s Yilan Sanxing Township, which is famous for the Sanxing Scallion, this unique mooncake is created with scallions, Chinese sausages, and the restaurant’s homemade XO sauce.
(Image credit: The Pine Garden)
Zhen Wei specialises in Teochew mooncakes, which are handmade according to a family recipe passed down through generations. With fragrant yam as the base filling, they pair flavours such as black sesame and pumpkin on top of it. If you’re not the adventurous sort, you won’t go wrong with the single or double salted egg yolk variations.
(Image credit: Zhen Wei)
Yan Restaurant might be known as one of Singapore’s best fine Cantonese restaurants, but its Teochew mooncakes are just as remarkable. The Thousand Layer Yam Mooncake with Single Yolk is one of the best takes in Singapore. Enveloped within layer upon layer of crispy and flaky pastry is a silky smooth yam paste that’s perfectly balanced with the savouriness of the salted egg yolk.
(Image credit: Yan Restaurant)
(Hero and featured image credit: Swatow Seafood Restaurant)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore