Customers having their mooncakes and eating them, too
Two months away from the Mid-Autumn Festival, time-honored restaurants and stores are serving mooncakes — with a novel twist.
New and innovative fillings include cheese and shrimp, cheese and scallop, and clam.
Sunya Cantonese Restaurant at the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall in Huangpu District developed four new flavors — roast duck, mushroom beef in satay sauce, black truffle pork and xiefen (literally "crab powder," which is made up of crab meat and roe) pork.
The flavors were inspired by a number of Sunya's signature dishes, said executive chef Huang Renkang.
Cai Yue, a tourist from Hefei, Anhui Province, said: "I have never tried mooncakes filled with roast duck, which seems to be an interesting combination. I bought it out of curiosity.
"The duck skin tastes crispy and the meat is tender. It is not greasy, and the sauce tastes good."
Mao Junkai, a 31-year-old office worker, said: "Traditional pork mooncakes are greasy. Black truffle and xiefen have a much lighter flavor which can neutralize the oil."
Huang added: "The mooncake with roast duck filling is the most popular among these new flavors. The technique is very complicated. The meat is removed from the whole duck after it is roasted."
The meat removed from a whole duck weighing 2 kilograms comes in at only 0.8 kilograms.
"Then I need to slice the meat into small pieces and mix it with sauces thoroughly until it has the best flavor," said Huang. "Finally, leek is fried and mixed with the duck meat.
"We tried many recipes during the process."
The mooncake is fragrant and tastes like crispy Peking duck, a famous food in China.
“New flavors are popular among young diners, while seniors prefer traditional flavors such as pork and yanduxian (a soup popular in the Yangtze River Delta region with pork and bamboo shoots)," he said.
Black truffle pork mooncakes have also had a good response.
"Black truffle is popular among young people, who use it in Western cuisine," he said. "It is healthy and nutritious. We source it from Yunnan Province."
These mooncakes hit the market on June 20, just after the Dragon Boat Festival, because this year's Mid-Autumn Festival is early on September 13.
Several hundred new-flavored items are sold every day, with sales expected to peak in mid-August.
Opposite Sunya, at the Shanghai First Food Store, two types of seafood mooncakes are on sale.
The cheese clam mooncakes drew inspiration from the Western cuisine of pastry clam seafood soup. The clam is mixed with cheese imported from New Zealand, giving it a unique flavor.
A cheese scallop mooncake is very popular among young people, said a salesperson.
The store also offers mooncakes filled with abalone, shrimp egg, sweet purple potato and dried meat floss.
Jack Jiang, a Shanghai resident in his 30s, bought two seafood mooncakes.
"I bought them out of curiosity," he said. "The clam mooncake has a strong seafood flavor, and it is chewy. The scallop mooncake tastes sort of similar to the clam."
Another resident, Pan Min, 25, said: "I have been bored with traditional pork flavors. It is good to have some new flavors, and time-honored brands also need innovation."
Elsewhere, Shanghai Taikang Food Store has prepared yolk mooncakes and pickled mustard tuber mooncakes.
Dried meat floss and yolk mooncake are also served at Changchun Food Store.
But not everybody is a fan of the new flavors, particularly middle-aged and senior people.
"These tastes sound very strange, and I can not accept such a big innovation," said local resident Yang Jinping, 70.
"Mooncakes with fillings of sweetened bean paste or pork are the most delicious for me because I have eaten them since childhood," she said.
He Yongliang, a 55-year-old local security guard, said: "I think traditional fillings are the most classic. They withstand the test of time and are the most-favored by residents."