Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kuo Hua 國華: Shu Shin Bou 手信坊


How many times have you been tempted into buying something because of the perfect image on the packaging, only to be sorely disappointed when you open the package to find that the product looks nothing like the picture? How many times have you been excited to try a food item because it looked really appealing, but was completely let down by the taste? This does not happen with Shu Shin Bou (手信坊) (except for one product mentioned later), a subsidiary of Taiwanese food giant San Shu Gong (三叔公). What you see on the box is what you get, and the food tastes as good as it looks if not better. I came across the Shu Shin Bou brand by chance as I was browsing the selection of Taiwanese goodies at Kuo Hua (國華) supermarket on No. 3 Road. There was a small booth near the front of the store offering free samples of Shu Shin Bou's mung bean cakes (冰心綠豆糕) and pineapple cakes (鳳梨酥). I tried both but was particularly impressed by the mung bean cakes ($9.99/ea, $18/2) with red bean filling. These are found in the frozen section and need to be thawed for around 15-20 minutes before eating. I like to eat them when they're still slightly cold and they just make the perfect snack on a hot summer afternoon.


Also in the frozen section, the daifuku mochi (豆大福) ($9.99/ea, $18/2) is one of the most popular items in Shu Shin Bou's line-up of goodies. I always get the green box with 2 flavours: matcha and cheese, and green bean. The matcha gel is fragrant and refreshing with a creamy smooth cheese centre, while the green bean has a more substantial texture. Both fillings are good, but of course the best part is the mochi surrounding them. It is THE softest chewiest tastiest mochi you will ever find, frozen or otherwise. I am just so impressed that frozen mochi could be that soft and fresh tasting. There are also bits of red bean in the mochi to add a bit of crunch to the chewiness.


Another of my favourites is the queen cake (皇妃酥) ($8.99/ea, $16/2), but the literal translation should be princess pastry. Underneath the layers of flaky pastry is the delicately sweet bean paste, followed by a thin layer of savoury pork floss, and finally the chewy mochi centre. They taste even better if you pop them in the oven for 8-10 minutes. For some reason the taste reminds me of moon cakes, even though the two aren't very similar. I think it's because they both use a combination of sweet and savoury, and smooth and coarse ingredients to create contrasting flavours and textures.


The purple pastry behind the queen cake is the taro pastry (芋頭酥) ($7.99/ea, $14/2). The crust is soft and nicely layered, and the filling is a simple taro paste with a powdery texture. Since taro is the only principal ingredient, it's also the only discernible flavour. The pastry is not bad, but I don't really enjoy taro in processed foods.


The sun cake (太陽餅) ($7.99/ea, $14/2) is a very simple pastry with nothing but a thin layer of sticky maltose as filling. The pastry itself has a strong buttery taste, so it's not for people who don't appreciate an overwhelming butter flavour.


Another awesome pastry is the original pineapple cake (土鳳梨酥) ($13.99/ea, $25/2). But I warn you now, do not try this if you like the regular pineapple cake. Because once you try it, there's no going back and you'll have to shell out $2 apiece. I'm sure most of the money goes to packaging, but the pineapple filling is ridiculously good. Is it worth $2 apiece? Probably not, but like I said you just would not want to eat the regular pineapple cake after this. The regular filling is just a smooth paste of mashed pineapple and artificial flavours, but this filling is less processed and you can actually taste the strands of pineapple fibre.


Just look at how fancy the packaging is. There are 6 smaller boxes inside the large box, each with a short description of a famous place in Taiwan.


Inside each small box is an original pineapple cake sitting in a plastic tray in a plastic bag. The packaging is definitely too cumbersome and wasteful.


The cake is supposed to be in the shape of Taiwan. What do you think? Close enough?


Ahhh... the lovely strands of fibre in the filling.


The only item I'm not impressed with is the 生果子 ($8.99/ea, $16/2). I have no idea what these are called in English. They look like mochi, but the skin looks and tastes like marshmallow. There is no chewiness but a soft and airy fluffiness with a cool cream centre. I feel that it's better to eat them cold when the filling has the same texture as ice cream. When they get warm, the filling becomes a thick cream that I don't find enjoyable.


There are 5 different flavours in the box: hazelnut (light brown), strawberry (yellow), matcha (green), milk (white), and chocolate (dark brown). I didn't really like any of them, but I would go for hazelnut if I had to make a choice. The rest just tasted overly fragrant in an artificial way.


Overall I'm really happy with Shu Shin Bou and I have faith in their products. I heard that their savoury cake is quite famous as well, so I'll try that out next time. For those of you who are interested in trying some of the products here, I highly recommend the queen cake, the mung bean cake and the daifuku mochi. Apparently Kuo Hua is the only distributor of the brand outside of Taiwan, so we're very lucky indeed!

Kuo Hua Trading Company Lts. 國華台灣食品公司 on Urbanspoon
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4 comments:

Janice on August 24, 2011 12:20 am said...

Yay! Your packaged foods post! Wow your snacks are so expensive, I'm super cheap when it comes to snacks.. hahaha. The frozen daifukus look well worth it though :)

krispymilk on August 24, 2011 12:46 am said...

I agree... they are really expensive, probably because of the packaging. But the mung bean cake, frozen daifuku and queen cake are sooooo good!

Janice on August 24, 2011 10:57 pm said...

Thanks krispy for the heads up on groupforsave.com! Have you used it before? There are so many group buy sites now that I don't know if they're all reliable! D:

krispymilk on August 25, 2011 1:11 am said...

I believe it's reliable since you pay through paypal and don't need to give them your credit card info. I have "purchased" and used one of their $0 coupons before (see my post on Shanghai Wonderful), and that went quite well. This time I actually bought a few coupons for the mung bean cakes, but obviously I haven't had the chance to use them yet. So I don't know, you decide :P

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