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Mooncake on Chinese Mid-autumn Festival

Moon Cakes is the special food on Mid-Autumn Festival, in round shape, measuring about three inches in diameter and one in thickness. The cake is filling with lotus seeds, meat and other stuffing. A golden yolk from a salted duck egg was placed at the center of each cake, and the golden brown crust was decorated with symbols of the festival.

How to celebrate Chinese Mid-autumn Day, http://www.easytourchina.com/fact-v35...

 
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  1. In Malaysia & Singapore (and in Chinese communities everywhere), the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) 2011 will be celebrated next Monday, Sep 12, whence it's the 15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese lunar calendar.

    16 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh

      When I was growing up we knew it and called it literally as that - 'pat yut sup ng'. (八月十五)
      :-)

      1. re: huiray

        Well, huiray, I'd bet that, in your growing up years, KL's Tai Thong did NOT have mooncakes with such flavors as:

        - white lotus paste with shrimp sambal

        - durian coulis

        - black sesame, green beans & cheese

        - chocolate yoghurt with cranberry bits

        Check out their beautiful website:

        http://taithong.com.my/info/

        Yook Woo Hin no longer produce mooncakes - I was told that, in the old days, the whole restaurant would be turned over to baking mooncakes during the 8th month.

        Another old KL brand was Kam Lun Tai, which now has a "halal" certification so its mooncakes are suitable for Malay-Muslims as well:

        http://mfg.asiaep.com/my_com/kamlunta...

        My KL colleagues couldn't get over the way I eat my Tai Thong mooncakes - I consume them whole, burger-style :-)

        1. re: klyeoh

          Fascinating. No, no such *sacrilegious* combinations were even contemplated. :-)
          Besides, it looks like they came on the scene way after I had already grown up. ;-)

          Indeed, YWH back then would turn out tray after tray of fabulous moon cakes and all sorts of fairly large "cookies" [made from the same dough (or modified a bit) used for the casing of the moon cakes] in various animal shapes and other shapes (goldfish, cockerels, carp, etc etc) each with a string handle, hung from large racks around the front of the shop. It was very special to walk in there and rummage amongst all their offerings. I enjoyed those cookies-on-a-string just as much as the mooncakes. Sorry to hear they don't do that anymore.

          1. re: klyeoh

            klyeoh - you ever tried Foh San's mooncakes?

            im sure there are better ones there, but alot of the malay restaurants in NY (all run by chinese from malaysia etc) are all selling them. im really liking them b/c they have these pandan flavored ones that i think taste alot better than the normal ones. i really like the pandan / coconut-y flavor

            1. re: Lau

              Yes, I did - they are from Ipoh and I tried a box of lotus paste with duck's yolk and another box with assorted nuts & ham last weekend. Both were delicious! I liked the way Foh San mixed melon seeds into the lotus paste - very old-fashioned recipe, common in the 70s but sadly a bit hard to find nowadays. I'm surprised that you can even find Foh San in the US!!

              1. re: klyeoh

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/741087
                http://www.asiansupermarket365.com/Fo...
                That on-line place above is based in/ships out of the Canal Street area, NYC (zip code 10013)

                1. re: klyeoh

                  klyeoh - oh yes i like the melon seeds as well. try the imperial jade one (光輝翠月), they're really good

                  its weird that you can find them in NY, but i figured out last year that a few of the malay restaurants all sell them for the few weeks around the mid-autumn festival

                  have you ever been to foh san? i looked them up and apparently its a famous dim sum place in ipoh (always wanted to go to ipoh, when i lived in singapore i kept hearing the food was amazing there)

                  huiray - yah i bought them last year which is when i found them....i actually ate a sliver of one this morning

                  1. re: Lau

                    Lau - yes, I first tried Foh San (富山茶楼) in its old location in Ipoh's city centre. I was brought there in 1999 by an old Ipoh-born friend who worked in Singapore. Although Foh San was INSANELY crowded - packed crowds & queues at 6.30am in the morning!!! - I personally thought their dim sum was not as refined or delicate as those you'd find in Hong Kong's top dim sum restaurants. But the huge golf-ball-sized dim sum at Foh San were very tasty nonetheless. Foh San moved into its new & much bigger premises a couple of years back.

                    Ipoh is about 300 miles from Singapore, so I didn't get to visit it as much as I'd like - but now that I'm stationed in KL, a mere 100 miles away - I may just make a trip up there, maybe even this weekend, hehe.

                    Granted that Foh San's reputation for dim sum amongst Ipoh residents is legendary, I'd never regarded Ipoh as a destination spot for dim sum, instead preferring their famous local specialties as Ipoh "kai see hor fun" (鸡丝河粉) which has lovely shredded chicken, plump fresh prawns & flat rice noodles; the famous Ipoh "nga choi kai" (芽菜雞) chicken rice served with poached chicken & a side of plump crunchy beansprouts; and, of course, the famous Ipoh "white coffee" or "pak ka fei" - so-called because the coffee beans are roasted with margarine and, when brewed, is pale in color and has a rich, mellow taste. The best purveyours of Ipoh "white coffee" are Nam Heong and Sin Yoon Long coffeeshops.

                    Some previous threads on Ipoh's dining spots:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626043
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780810
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598851

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      yah i actually almost never ate dim sum when i lived in singapore and i never tried it when i was in malaysia b/c i was going to hong kong alot and i find hong kong's dim sum to be unbeatable in quality and refinement. although i was interested in foh san b/c im loving their mooncakes. that is crazy btw about lines at 6:30am

                      all those sound so good, i love white coffee too. i've found packaged white coffee from some of the chinese-malay restaurants, but it doesn't come close to getting it in malaysia. i miss good kopi tiam type places

                      1. re: Lau

                        Lau, this discussion had actually prompted me to drive 2.5 hours north of KL to Ipoh this morning :-D

                        Foh San's dim sum has improved - smaller but tastier. Extremely fresh due to the high turnover & endless stream of patrons:

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/807655

                        1. re: klyeoh

                          i ended up writing a post about the mooncakes at foh san: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806032

                          1. re: Lau

                            Nice! I must say that Foh San's mooncakes have improved by a quantum leap this year - it was the best I'd tasted this season.

                            I actually had my first taste of Foh San's mooncakes when they were first sold in Singapore's OUB Centre back in 2000 thereabouts, but their mooncakes weren't very outstanding at that time - a bit too sweet & dry. I'd bought them out of curiousity then because I was just so amazed that ANY mooncakes from Malaysia (let alone Ipoh) actually made it to the shores of Singapore!! You know how Singapore and Malaysia have a love-hate relationship, and Singaporeans would like to think that we'd be able to make better mooncakes than Malaysia - and we'd only grudgingly concede that the Hong Kongers are superior chefs/bakers than us.

                            This year, however, Foh San's mooncakes were a revelation - the lotus filling was fine & smooth, and studded with melon seeds - simply outstanding. Even the "kam tui" (nuts, sugar-cured melon & ham) version was outstanding.

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              last year was the first year id tried them, i was even more curious that a malaysian brand mooncake had made it all the way to NY!! I rarely see any brands that aren't famous HK brands or locally made mooncakes.

                              they taste the same this year as last year, which is very good. it's been a big find as Id been looking for a good brand in NY for a while

                              btw i actually connected the wrong link, here's the right one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/808277

          2. re: klyeoh

            What are your favorite places in central Singapore to sample and buy mooncakes? I'll be in Singapore next week and I'll probably check out the Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival after sunset. Is Tai Thong (SG) on Mosque Street any good? How about at department stores, like Ngee Ann City/Takashimaya?

            I did a quick Google search and saw this list:
            http://www.timeoutsingapore.com/shopp...

            A lot of the recommended mooncakes in this list are at hotel restaurants. Is that unusual? My friend said that he likes the Intercontinental's snowskin taro cake, so maybe I need to get over my hotel mooncake skepticism.

            I also checked out the KL Tai Thong site that klyeoh linked – what beautiful and unusual mooncakes! Are these (or any of the recommended Malaysian mooncakes) available in Singapore as well?

            1. re: graceface

              You're spot on, graceface - Ngee Ann City's basement 2 has now been turned into a Mooncake Bazaar! Almost every major mooncake purveyor (from bakery chains, famous hotel brands, Hong Kong brand-names, Malaysian brand-names, etc.) have converged onto this one spot and set up mooncake stands there. You can walk through the place, taste free samples, and decide which are the ones you liked. Sure beats having to run around the island.

              Tai Thong is a revered old brand - their mooncakes tend to be very sweet but I'm not sure if they'd have reduced the sugar content this year, as Singaporeans' palate have changed.

              It's virtually impossible for me to recommend you a good brand to buy as mooncakes are an annual thing, and in the intervening period, the bakers may have moved away to another rival spot, so the best brands from last year may not be likewise this year.

              Chinatown (South Bridge Road) has hung up the lanterns and decorations last week (see 1st photo below), whilst the Singapore River near Central Mall and Clarke Quay have also done likewise - the artisans were all from Mainland China, very skilled bunch - you could hear them speaking with their Northern Dongbei accent as they were putting up the decoratives & applying finishing touches to the giant, elaborate lantern structures (see other pics below).

               
               
               
               
               
              1. re: klyeoh

                Thanks for the advice and the photos! I'll certainly have to bring my camera out, too. :)

          3. Mooncakes from Siang Ping Loh, perhaps the best in Bangkok Chinatown this year. Brought to Singapore last week by our visiting Thai relatives from Bangkok.

            With durian-lotus paste & melon seeds filling (left) and the mixed nuts filling (right).

            Address details
            ============
            Siang Ping Loh
            Grand China Princess Hotel
            215 Yaowarat Road
            Samphantawong
            Bangkok 10100
            Tel: +662-224 9977

             
            24 Replies
            1. re: klyeoh

              looks awesome i love melon seeds and i really like durian and pandan flavored moon cakes, ive been much been trying to just get those when i eat mooncakes now particularly pandan flavored

              1. re: Lau

                I'll be interested to hear about the best mooncakes you can find in New York. The ones I used to get in San Francisco Chinatown were really *bad* :-(

                1. re: klyeoh

                  the local ones? hmm i havent tried to find a local one in a while. The last two years ive been going to Malaysian restaurants in the city or in Flushing to get the Foh San brand which I like. There are also various well known HK brands available in various super markets and bakeries

                  There are a few old school bakeries in Chinatown that are known for their moon cakes: Lung Moon, Kwong Wah and Golden Fung Wong come to mind....maybe ill go try one this weekend and see how it is

                  Btw if you happen to be in SF's chinatown which is pretty sad since it's totally dying, try Golden Gate Bakery. People go for their dan ta which are pretty decent, but their lao po bing is awesome like it's probably better than most lao po bing i've had in Asia

                  also off topic but when i was in KL it seemed like chinatown there was kind of devoid of chinese people? it was all indian vendors selling cheap tourist junk, has it totally died or something?

                  1. re: Lau

                    Coincidentally, I brought boxes of Foh San mooncakes from KL back to Singapore last week. Mooncakes cost 2.5 times more in Singapore than in Malaysia (due to the strong Singapore dollar).

                    Of course, we couldn't distribute the mooncakes to friends & relatives yet since it was still the Chinese Seventh Month (Month of the Hungry Ghosts) which is deemed inauspicious.

                    BTW, the Mid-Autumn Festival (Mooncake Festival) will fall on Sunday Sep 30 this year :-)

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      ahh nice yah i really like those foh san brand mooncakes maybe one day ill go to ipoh to try them fresh...you ever been?

                      1. re: Lau

                        I'd only been to Foh San for dim sum but not during the Mooncake season. But I reckon the ones we get in KL are pretty fresh as Ipoh's just a couple of hours' drive from KL :-)

                        BTW, picture below of some wacky Angry Bird snowskin mooncakes I got from a local bakery in Singapore last weekend.

                         
                        1. re: klyeoh

                          Those are mooncakes? Our ancestors would be turning over in their graves! :-)

                          1. re: huiray

                            haha i seriously wonder what my grandparents would think if i gave them these

                      1. re: huiray

                        ahh interesting, i didnt do that much research, so we walked over there and were like whoa this is like a totally dead chinatown even worse than LA or SF's dying original chinatowns. luckily happened to stay at the ritz carlton (which btw has to be the most reasonably prices RC in the world) and accidently discovered the area by jalam imbi which had excellent food like restoran oversea

                          1. re: huiray

                            i saw it actually, but i wasn't able to eat there as i wasn't in KL for very long, i did eat have some excellent yong tofu across the street though and i also ate at soo kee in addition to restoran oversea. that area seemed to be a treasure trove of good food as the food i ate over there was quite good

                            although looking at those pics im regretting not having a chance to try it now

                            i also really wanted to try that roast goose place klyeoh wrote about as i accidently found it, but it was closed that day blehhh

                          2. re: Lau

                            Lau, KL's Petaling St/Chinatown stalls only come alive in the evenings. The vendors at the stalls are mainly Bangladeshi, Nepali, Myanmarese, even the odd Afghan. Mind you, the stall-owners are Chinese, but you won't see them there as they use cheap foreign labor to man the stalls for them.

                            Last year, I told a visiting British colleague that I'll show him KL's Little India (Brickfields) and Chinatown (Petaling St). Anyway, we went to Petaling St first, where he bought a great deal of stuff (pirated bags, pirated watches, pirated DVDs - it's a pirate's paradise down there!). Then, as we set down for a Hokkien noodles dinner at Kim Lian Kee, I asked him what he thought of KL's Chinatown.
                            "THIS is Chinatown?!", he said, eyes widening incredulously, "I thought we're in Little India!".

                            ROFL! He thought Petaling Street reminded him pretty much of Brick Lane back in London.

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              thats basically the same reaction i had haha

                              however, jalan imbi was a total gem

                      2. re: klyeoh

                        klyeoh - i did a small taste testing of some of the more well known local NY bakeries for mooncakes (although i realized alot more bakeries than i thought make their own mooncakes when i was walking about today). Check it out
                        http://www.lauhound.com/2012/09/mid-a...
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869248

                        1. re: Lau

                          So, looks like your search still goes on for good mooncakes in NYC. I think bakeries there are still too old-fashioned - most mooncakes sold here in Asia have various flavors (and colors) to tempt the consumers. Cut open a mooncake, and you'd very likely see layers of different-colored and flavored fillings inside. I guess the size of the market here permits that.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            yah NY's cantonese food scene is general is kind of old school and all of the bakeries I went to are long standing old school toi son (tai shan) bakeries. Kwong Wah had the most "exotic" mooncake that was a coconut flavored mooncake, but I bought the same kind at all 4 places in order to make the taste test comparable.

                            I've started seeing more durian and pandan mooncakes being advertised and sold in the super markets in Chinatown, but in general the bakeries in chinatown sell either lotus seed, red bean or winter melon filling with or without egg yolks and they usually have some sort of mixed nut offering as well, so just the very old school standard mooncakes.

                            I've also seen a few ads for snow skin mooncakes, but i haven't gone out of my way to find them as I like regular mooncakes better than snowskin mooncakes

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              btw did you try the mooncakes ate restoran oversea? i was going to buy a box when i was there, but i totally forgot before i left

                              1. re: Lau

                                Not yet, but will check that out soon. KL's got too many brands to try already, plus HK's brands like Hang Heung, Wing Wah, Kee Wah, etc are entering the SE-Asian market.
                                In Singapore, even Peninsula HK are pitching in with their high-end mooncakes.

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  yah there are so many well known brands, most of the well known HK brands are available in NY as well and you've started seeing some of the malaysian ones as well

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    The mooncakes I got from Lavender bakery chain (http://www.lavender.com.my/) have duck's eggyolks enfolded in custard before being covered in green-tea-flavored lotus paste.

                                     
                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                      looks wonderful...i really love these newer flavored mooncakes like pandan (my new favorite), durian and i like green tea as well

                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                        klyeoh, there is an interesting article in today's newspapers about the Lavender chain. They are so exacting about their mooncake ingredients that each year, the sourcing manager will go to Xiang Tan in Hunan province in China to source for the best one month old whole lotus seeds. Lavender then processes the lotus seeds themselves, cleaning and boiling, then halving the seeds to remove the bitter inner membrane, before cooking and mashing and adding other ingredients to the lotus paste.

                                        Unlike many other mooncake makers who simply buy readymade lotus paste from central suppliers, Lavender does this to make sure their lotus paste is of high-quality. They sold 300,000 pieces of mooncakes last year!

                                        Here is the full article:-

                                        http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story...

                                        1. re: penang_rojak

                                          too bad doesn't sound like they would hold getting shipped to the US

                      3. I picked up a "gift box" of HK's Maxim "mixed nuts" Mooncakes. (伍仁美心月餅) from the local Chinese grocery I go to. US$32.50 (taxable).

                        As far as I know, there are no local places that make their own mooncakes (wow, that would be miraculous!) and I usually find stuff around here that is brought in from Hong Kong.

                         
                         
                        6 Replies
                        1. re: huiray

                          That's very reasonably priced. A box of Wing Wah mooncakes from Hong Kong would actually cost more (US$35-US$45, depending on the filling) in KL, but we're a mere 3.5 hours' flight away from HK, not 20 hours away like the US Eastern seaboard. I guess the demand for mooncakes are greater here in KL/Singapore due to the large Chinese populace, who also give them away as business gifts to associates, than in the US.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            Interesting. Thanks for the info.

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              yah that sounds a bit expensive you can get wing wah in the US for cheaper than that

                            2. re: huiray

                              One of the cakes cut in half.

                               
                              1. re: huiray

                                My favorite kind - that mixed nuts mooncake actually looked like what I had for breakfast this morning :-D

                                BTW, there was a lantern festival-related event in Jalan Sultan (KL Chinatown) last nite - I missed that as a friend was introducing me to a "dai chow" off Old Klang Road which did a mean fish-head curry. I LOVE KL ;-)
                                http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp...

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  Interesting piece about that Jln Sultan event.

                                  So - how was that "tai chow" place?

                                  BTW that Maxim's mixed nuts mooncake was moist and delicious!

                            3. KL Chinatown ushers in the 1st day of the Chinese Eighth Lunar Month which falls on Sep 16 (today). Now, we can start giving mooncakes to our friends & relatives, and start preparing for the lantern festival :-D

                              Photos from KL Chinatown which I snapped this afternoon - some businesses are performing rituals to welcome the auspicious 8th Month.

                               
                               
                               
                               
                               
                               
                              1. Best mooncakes in Penang, Malaysia, are from the Equatorial Hotel's Golden Phoenix restaurant. I get mine there every year.