HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >

Discussion

Mooncakes

Where do you get yours? I'm specifically looking for the larger ones, about 4 in. diameter, with at least one salted duck yolk. I can't remember which bakeries I've enjoyed in years past...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I have seen these recently at the montco Costco. On the box it says double yolk. Trying to talk John into splitting a box with me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: givemecarbs

      Thanks, givemecarbs! Double yolk mooncakes are great. I recently read about mooncakes that have FOUR yolks to represent the moon phases. I'll have to check out that Costco soon.

    2. I buy my from Chinatown. I buy the fresh ones from the local bakery stores and not the ones from oversea.

      1. Bought some savory mooncakes from Dim Sum Garden on 11th street near Chinatown yesterday. Freshly made, with pork filling and layered 'su' shell, excellent in taste and a great buy. $3/ea.

        For people interested in making mooncakes at home, there is a demonstration at Guang Hua Chinese school this coming weekend.

        37 Replies
        1. re: borntolovefood

          Thanks for your info, Chemicalkinetics and borntolovefood. I haven't had a savory mooncake in a couple of years. Chemicalkinetics, I've bought various ones from the local bakeries over the years and have not found any of them anything to write home about, so to speak (or rather, give out to family and friends). Are there any specific bakery's mooncakes which you would recommend?

          borntolovefood, what time is the demonstration? Is this the location: third floor, Parkhouse Hall, Montgomery County Community College, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell? It sounds like a lot of fun!

          1. re: mookleknuck

            Correct. The school is planning a fundraiser selling mooncakes. So, first order of business is to train folks on how to make them.

            To make traditionally-shaped mooncakes at home, I think one needs to get some mooncake molds first. I found some for sale on the internet this morning.

            1. re: borntolovefood

              So what time is the demonstration? Is there a fee or some kind of registration?

              I'd love to see some pictures if you end up making them!

            2. re: mookleknuck

              Hi. I think I will have to agree with you. I started to buy local mooncake when I stumbled outstanding fresh mooncakes by Golden Gate Bakery at SF Chinatown. They were slightly less expensive and much better than the Hong Kong big name mooncakes -- presumbly partially due to their freshness.

              Since then I have purchased freshly made local mooncakes. However, none of what I found here in Philly Chinatown is nearly as good. I love eating mooncakes probably more than most people, so I usually buy about 3-4 boxes of mooncakes solely for MYSELF each year. When I was in California, I would buy mooncake every 2-4 weeks from SF Chinatown.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                So where do you like to buy your mooncakes in Philly? Which kinds?

                I seem to eat a lot of them every few years and then not eat them for a long time (these periods don't correspond to Midautumn festival, however). Fresh ones <can> be better than the packaged, but as noted on other boards, mooncakes are easily preserved and keep for a long time. It really just depends on the recipe and skill...

                When you say 3-4 boxes of mooncakes, I assume you mean that each box contains 4 of the larger (4 inch) kind? Or do you mean each contains 8-12 mini mooncakes? That's a lot! Nice.

                1. re: mookleknuck

                  I try to buy them from "Zhong Gang Bakery", "Hong Kong Bakery", "Saint Honore Pastries"

                  https://maps.google.com/maps?q=philly...

                  https://maps.google.com/maps?q=philly...

                  https://maps.google.com/maps?q=philly...

                  Zhong Gang probably makes better ones, though a bit sweet.
                  Hong Kong can be too greasy and a bit overcooked for my taste.

                  K.C. Pastries actually made good mooncakes, but I don't buy much from them. Maybe I will start again this year:

                  https://maps.google.com/maps?q=philly...

                  Yes, I meant 4 mooncakes per box.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I've bought from all four and of the four, I think K.C. Pastries is probably the best of the bunch. If I recall correctly, the one I bought from them last year was red bean with a single yolk. It had a decent pastry. Saint Honore is probably my runner-up.

                    I'm jealous that you can eat so many mooncakes without having to buy new pants! =D Which kinds do you get?

                    1. re: mookleknuck

                      <I think K.C. Pastries is probably the best of the bunch>

                      Objectively, I agree, but emotionally, I don't like KC Pastries as much. KC Pastries seems so elities. :) I actually think "Zhong Gang Bakery" as pretty good. Nice, tender and smooth, but a bit sweet. Still, it is good in my book, just not great.

                      <I'm jealous that you can eat so many mooncakes without having to buy new pants! =D Which kinds do you get?>

                      How do you know I don't get new pants? Actually you are right. I am actually very slender. 32 inch waist and have not changed since high school. I usually get the "Two Egg Yolks in White Lotus Paste", but I sometime get "Five Nuts" as well as "Green Bean Paste".

                      I will have to say that none of these come remotely close to the mooncakes I had in San Fransico Chinatown. I miss San Fransciso.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Thanks, I'll have to head over and stop by both bakeries. I'll probably grab some from Dim Sum Garden also (love that "su" pastry).

                        Philly's got what it's got.

                        1. re: mookleknuck

                          Just went to China Town today for Dim Sum, and stopped at the Bread Top House bakery at 11th & Race. I'd never had mooncakes, and did not know what they really were, but when I saw them in the bakery case I thought about your post! I did not see savory ones, but got a few of the miniature green bean/red bean/winter melon cakes to try. LOVED them. Now I need to track down those savory cakes!

                          BTW, I've tried Joy Tsin Lau & Ocean Harbor for Dim Sim. Where else should I try in China Town?

                          1. re: PattiCakes

                            <Now I need to track down those savory cakes!>

                            Shouldn't be too bad because the savory ones outnumbers the sweet one by a huge margin. That being said, the so called savory ones are not purely savory. It has salty and sweet components to them. For instance, the egg yolk lotus paste mooncake is made of savory egg yolk and sweet lotus paste.

                            <I've tried Joy Tsin Lau & Ocean Harbor for Dim Sim>

                            That is. You have seen all the good things in Chinatown now. Time to go to CubanTown.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              <smile> There is another bakery just to the left of Joy Tsin Lau. I will try that next time.

                              I saw some other buns that were egg yolk lotus paste and egg yolk (a variety of meats), but they were not called mooncakes.

                              Where is CubanTown???? Always looking for a lunchtime adventure.

                              1. re: PattiCakes

                                Well, a lot of people like K.C.'s Pastries:

                                https://maps.google.com/maps?q=philad...

                                I find Zhong Gang Bakery and Mok Kok Station reasonable:

                                https://maps.google.com/maps?q=philad...

                                https://maps.google.com/maps?q=philad...

                                <I saw some other buns that were egg yolk lotus paste and egg yolk>

                                Yeah, that is definitely not mooncakes. K.C.'s Bakery, and Zhong Gang may still have some yolk mooncakes. They look very much like other mooncakes:

                                http://s3.amazonaws.com/foodspotting-...

                                <Where is CubanTown>

                                Just making stuffs up. :) So what do you want to see in Chinatown? Bakery? Dim Sum Restaurants? Chinese Barbecue joints? Ramen Noodle? Hand Drawn Noodle?

                                http://youtu.be/_-wkCOGIal0?t=1m51s

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  I've been to the hand-drawn noodle place next to Joy Tsin Lau, and enjoyed it. Would love to known more dim sum places and Chinese Barbeque, or a place where I could try soup dumplings.

                                  I took some of the mooncakes to my granddaughter, who is 20 months old. We cut them into small wedges, and had a tea party. She loved them. Her father has Mexican heritage, so now we have this 20 month old part-Mexican chica asking for mooncakes!~

                                  1. re: PattiCakes

                                    <I've been to the hand-drawn noodle place next to Joy Tsin Lau>

                                    Great. There are two hand drawn noodle places, and you have already been to one. The other one is about same in term of quality -- my opinion.

                                    < Would love to known more dim sum places>

                                    There are few in Philly Chinatown. Aside from Ocean Harbor and Joy Tsin Lau, I recommend Ocean City on 9th Street. It is actually recommended to me by several employees at Joy Tsin Lau:

                                    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Ocean+...

                                    It isn't as large as the other two, but the food is good. Its Chinese name has changed, but the English name remained as Ocean City.

                                    <Chinese Barbeque>

                                    For Chinese Barbeque like roast pork, roast duck, There are three I like. Two look a bit run-down on the lower scales (hole in the wall). So I will recommend the nicer looking one: Sang Kee Peking Duck House which is right next to Ocean City:

                                    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=sang+k...

                                    For soup dumpling, I assume you mean the Shanghai soup dumplings like these, right?

                                    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-OvptWcYZZ3w...

                                    For Shanghai soup dumplings, I have only had good experience at Sakura Mandarian at the corner of 9th Street and Race Street in Chinatown

                                    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Ocean+...

                                    No, it is not really a Japanese restaurant. Its soup dumplings are good.

                                    < She loved them. Her father has Mexican heritage, so now we have this 20 month old part-Mexican chica asking for mooncakes!~>

                                    Hmm, it is amazing because nowdays some Chinese themselves do not like mooncakes anymore. They think mooncakes make them fat:

                                    "Back in the era of scarcity, they were a rare calorie-rich treat to fill the chronically hungry belly. Nowadays, the mooncake has become the Christmas fruitcake of China, passed around and regifted ad infinitum."

                                    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/...

                                    P.S.: I came back from Chinatown today. I don't see mooncakes in these bakery stores anymore.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Many thanks forn the suggestions! I will print them out and plan a few lunch time excusions.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Great post as usual. Have you tried Ting Wong?

                                        1. re: barryg

                                          Yes, I have tried Ting Wong. I like it. I do a lot of takes-out from Ting Wing and M Kee. (Alternating between the two).

                                          When I told PattiCakes that "There are three I like. Two look a bit run-down on the lower scales (hole in the wall)....."

                                          The other two I had in mind were: Ting Wong and M Kee. They both have good food, but they are marketed toward a lower price point, less service, faster turn around models.

                                          Ting Wong and M Kee are the classic "Congee, Rice Noodle, Noodle, Rice"(粥粉麵飯) shops. Both of them specialize budget dishes and Chinese barbecue. M Kee split off from Ting Wong, and have essentially the same menu. They are the Chinese version of diners.

                                          http://www.dolphin.upenn.edu/hksa/ima...

                                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/bombay13...

                                          Ting Wong has the most rustic look, but has the best location (center of Chinatown, on 10th street). M Kee is new looking, but definitely is not upscale. It has a good location as well (corner of Race Street and 9th Street). Sang Kee is at the corner of Chinatown (a bit isolated), but it targets a slightly upperscale customers base: huge window, well lit, more personal service, also a higher price point menu ...etc.

                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          You know that each mooncake is about 1000 calories, right? Also, who wouldn't get tired of receiving 10-30 mooncakes each year??? I remember thinking that getting that many in ONE year would cure me of any future desire for a mooncake... And you can only regift those mooncakes that same year, of course. =D

                                          I was in Chinatown on Saturday and saw at least four kinds of mooncakes in Asia Bakery's counter.

                                          1. re: mookleknuck

                                            <Also, who wouldn't get tired of receiving 10-30 mooncakes each year??? >

                                            I won't. I am a mooncake monster (as in cookie monster). I used to live in SF, and I would go to Golden Gate Bakery for their baked goods including mooncake, and I would buy ~2 mooncakes every two weeks or every month. They make mooncake all year around, and I ate them all year around. (I don't anymore because the mooncakes around here are not as good (to me))

                                            So don't you try to pass some laws and trying to limit my mooncakes.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              Yeah, but when you get those 10-30 mooncakes in the span of two weeks, what do you do with all of them? Regift, of course! No laws except what your pants can fit...

                                              1. re: mookleknuck

                                                I put them in my refrigerator. :) I have one in refrigerator.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  But 30??? What would you do with 30 of them? Refrigerate all of them? They're not <that> good!

                                                  1. re: mookleknuck

                                                    They are BEST! Ok, they are not. I actually do not like Philly mooncakes that much. I only eat it because I feel I l should eat them at the autumn festival. However, I truly do love the mooncakes from Golden Gate Bakery from San Francisco, and bought them every time I visit SF Chinatown.

                                                    The workers all get to know me -- maybe because I was so "stand out" by buying their mooncakes year around.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      A fine mooncake is very fine, indeed. These, not so much.

                                        3. re: PattiCakes

                                          I think the place next to JTL, Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House, has a tastier broth than the other place, Yummy. Yummy has better pickled cabbage (suan cai) to put in your soup, and better tabletop seasoning overall, with slightly better service. Their pig ears and tripe appetizers were larger than the former, but Nan Zhou's fuqifeipian had more enjoyable seasoning.

                                          I haven't had Red Kings soup dumplings, but have enjoyed them there. The board favorite is Dim Sum Garden.

                                        4. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          They still have moon cakes here:

                                          https://maps.google.com/maps?q=1041+R...

                                          We went to dim sum today at Imperial Inn:

                                          https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Imperi...

                                          It was very good. I liked it much better than Ocean Harbor, and it seemed cleaner than Joy Tsin Lau. Still need to try Ocean City, but of the 3 I've tried so far, I like Imperial Inn best.

                                          1. re: PattiCakes

                                            I should say that there are still mooncakes sold in Chinatown. Some of the mooncakes are made from large scale bakery factory from Asia and shipped over here. Some are made local by the stores. I was mostly referring the fact that I did not see any locally made mooncakes, but I could be wrong.

                                            I have been to Imperial Inn a few times (3-4 times). It is based off a famous Hong Kong restaurant. I actually o not like Imperial Inn a whole lot which is why I didn't recommend it. It is clean looking and it is much slower pace than Joy Tsin Lau or Ocean Harbor, but I prefer the foods from the two places. It isn't horrible by any mean, but I just happen to like the other places better.

                                            Opinions are different from person to person, so I am glad that you like Imperial Inn.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              I think Asia Bakery makes their own mooncakes, so I'd check that out if you are still craving some.

                                              I don't find Imperial Inn's food to be very good and I've been there a lot more than 3-4 times. While I don't think it's really shown any decline in the last decade or so, my friend claims that it's started to go downhill in the last year or so. She still loves it though, so Patticakes, you're not alone. I think the other two places just prepare their food more to my taste. Patti, just wait until the weather is a bit nicer and hie yourself up to NY!

                                              1. re: mookleknuck

                                                <I don't find Imperial Inn's food to be very good and I've been there a lot more than 3-4 times>

                                                You probably like it a lot more than I do since you went there more than 3-4 times, and I go to Chinatown EVERY single week, so percentage wise speaking I really do not go to Imperial Inn very often.

                                                <my friend claims that it's started to go downhill in the last year or so>

                                                Really? I must say that I haven't been there for more than a year if not two. In other words, I did not even like it all that much 3-4 years ago. I don't hate it, but I just don't like it. It does have a much shorter line and the service is good. The food is just not what I like
                                                For Dim Sum, I rank:
                                                Joy Tsin Lau = Ocean Harbor
                                                Ocean City
                                                H.K. Golden Phoenix (Closed)
                                                Imperial Inn.

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  Unfortunately, most of my recent (<6 months) Philly dim sum experiences have been at Imperial Inn. Fortunately, I've been able to have NY dim sum also. =D I agree with you about not enjoying their food, and if I'd had my druthers, I would have always pressed for elsewhere. But social pressures/convenience/expediency/not feeling like waiting in a line led me to have eaten at Imperial Inn more than 3-4 times. I'm also not usually in Chinatown by myself and have to consider others. =P The food there is not... to my taste, but that doesn't mean others don't like it. I don't like to review a restaurant poorly simply because their food preparation isn't to my taste/standard.

                                                  I'd also agree with you that Ocean Harbor and JTL are pretty equal, but I'm a big fan of seafood and the former has more seafood options and better lighting so I go there. I miss the quality of HK Golden Phoenix and am sad that they've shut down. I would rank their best at the top of your list (and didn't mention it since it's now an outpost of Sammy's koagies).

                                                  1. re: mookleknuck

                                                    < I miss the quality of HK Golden Phoenix and am sad that they've shut down.>

                                                    Yeah, but have you tried the new restaurant -- a Korean K-town restaurant. I have not.

                                                    < I would rank their best at the top of your list >

                                                    I actually did enjoy Golden Phoenix. Maybe I should rank it at least on par as Ocean City (not Harbor). I like the food there -- not any worse than Joy Tsin Lau or Ocean Harbor. I really do. The atmosphere is good too. It is just that the option is very limited if I remember right. There was maybe 3 carts. However, for what they offered, they were good.

                                                    <, I've been able to have NY dim sum>

                                                    I think I am anti-NY. West Coast California mentality.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Haven't tried the Sammy Chon's outpost in Philly Ctown yet as I hear it's the Cherry Hill location is best. Still, not that interested.

                                                      It's nice to have NY so close by as I can't afford cross-country flights and car rentals every time I want to eat in the SGV. =D

                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        "the so called savory ones are not purely savory"

                                        Disagree. Savory mooncakes are usually completely savory, barring their crust. Mooncakes that have a savory component such as egg yolk are still considered sweet. I think savory mooncakes, barring the ones mentioned by borntolovefood above, are rather difficult to find in Philly's Chinatown.

                                      3. re: PattiCakes

                                        Here's some information about mooncakes, including some pictures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mooncake

                                        In Philly's Chinatown, you can get dim sum here: Joy Tsin Lau, Ocean Harbor, Imperial Inn, and Ocean City. There are a couple of vegetarian places that I've never visited due to poor reviews and there are a few more places down on Washington Ave that have received poor reviews from sources whose tastes I trust.

                                        1. re: mookleknuck

                                          Thanks, Mook. We enjoyed Imperial Inn, and found the service to be excellent. As with many other places, I'm sure it can vary from day to day. Our next venture will be to Ocean City.

                                          My 20 month old granddaughter loves the mooncakes. I took 5 of the really small ones to her last night, & mom will ration them out, slicing a half cake into thin pieces for afternoon "tea parties" with her dolls. I just think it's fun to expose her to all kinds of cuisines. We are trying to figure out when would be a good time to organize a family outing to Chinatown for dim sum. Can you give me some guidance on a good place and time to go on a Sunday? It will be interesting to see the Mexican side of my SIL's family doing dim dum. Always a party!

                                          1. re: PattiCakes

                                            Patti, if you like Imperial Inn the best, then you and yours should just head over there around 11AM. I'd maybe call ahead and tell them to get an XX-person table together for you, depending on how large your party is, but I've eaten there comfortably with a table of 10+. At Imperial Inn, ask for the front room, not the back, if you want fresher selections. The back room is quieter.

                                            I think the hustle and bustle of Ocean Harbor is more of what I'm used to (that rennao feeling), so I would recommend them over the other three places I mentioned above. Good luck; it sounds like you'll have a charming dim sum brunch with both families.

                      2. Excuse me if it is rude to join in on this posting, but does anybody know if anywhere in Philadelphia sells 'ice cream' mooncakes? When I lived in NYC, I used to get them from Haagen Daz in Manhattan Chinatown. I have little nieces coming who don't care for traditional mooncake but very much enjoy ice-cream and pastries...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sueyee

                          Not rude at all. I read a few months ago that Bassetts (in the RTM) also makes ice cream mooncakes that are exported to China! I'd contact them and see if they have any available retail. Please post what you find, if anything!

                          1. re: mookleknuck

                            So I called Bassetss head office, and they are NOT making them available this year, but they might be locally available in 2013...

                            1. re: sueyee

                              Sorry to hear that, but thanks for responding!

                        2. Lots of recent activity on this post has prompted me to post what I remember buying from this past Midautumn Festival. All had chewy crusts.

                          1. Chung May Food Market (next to Ocean Harbor at 1023 Race): Single packaged white lotus seed with double yolk (雙黃白蓮蓉), Caiyun Xuan (彩雲軒) brand. Although sold in a larger package of six, each individually plastic-wrapped and in tins, the owner(?) was kind enough to sell me a single. There was nothing special about this brand or this flavor, but at least many of the flavors were written in English!

                          2. International Bakery (232 N. 10th St - close to Vine): Single freshly baked fruitcake (at least, that's how I think of it, as Chinese fruitcake - 五仁) with a single yolk. Awkwardly translated as five kernel flavor, this is not one of my favorites, but it was the only kind they had left. Seemed to be doing good business in selling their mooncakes as they'd had two or three other flavors, but were sold out by the time I got there.

                          3. Zhong Gang Bakery (as Chemicalkinetics mentioned, at 127 N. 10th St - close to Cherry): Can't remember what I got here, but it was freshly made with a single yolk and again, nothing special. Had the best crust out of the ones listed here.

                          4. Asia Bakery (next to Penang at 115 N. 10th St. close to Arch): Two freshly made mooncakes each with a yolk: red bean (豆沙) and white lotus seed (for comparison with the packaged kind). My mom's favorite was the red bean as that is her favorite flavor. I thought the white lotus seed paste was not as smooth as the packaged one, but it was a lot sweeter (which you may or may not enjoy). The crust was a bit stale, although they seem to make them often, as they had some for sale over the weekend.

                          5. Saint Honore Pastry (next to Rising Tide at 935? Race St.): My old standby bakery with very reliable char siu bao. Packaged snowskin ice cream mooncakes. Too cold to tell if it actually tasted like its marketed flavor of strawberry, but fun! They'd had ten to fifteen flavors and this was the only one that was left.

                          I think that if my next craving for mooncakes coincides with the Midautumn Festival again, I will seek out International Bakery, Saint Honore, and Asia Bakery earlier in the season.