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huiray Sep 20, 2012 09:51 AM

I'm wondering what brands of mooncakes are available in SF and California in general, other than from local bakeries? What brands (if any) from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, etc?

This query is prompted by an exchange I had on a subthread on the China/SE Asia board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8060... which was in turn prompted by my seeing that banner ad *on Chowhound* for that Malaysian brand of mooncake I reported on there.


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  1. s
    SFEater124 RE: huiray Sep 20, 2012 09:58 AM

    I don't recommend buying frozen moon cakes, I don't know the brands, but I'm sure you coud kind frozen MC's at Ranch 99 Market
    Also the best fresh mooncakes at the Far East Bakery in Chinatown

    16 Replies
    1. re: SFEater124
      huiray RE: SFEater124 Sep 20, 2012 10:02 AM

      No, none of the "imported" mooncakes - that I know of, anyway - would EVER be frozen. They are imported, into NYC and even the Midwest, as mooncakes in sealed cellophane packets typically within decorative metal boxes, stored and offered at room temperature. Many of them are quite, quite good. Take a more detailed look at that thread I referenced,not just that specific subthread.

      But thanks for your response, I guess I now know that frozen mooncakes (!!) might be available in CA.

      1. re: huiray
        kcchan RE: huiray Sep 20, 2012 11:39 AM

        The only frozen mooncakes I've seen at 99 Ranch are the snowy mooncakes or snow-skin mooncakes; I haven't seen the traditional mooncakes in the frozen section at 99 Ranch.

        1. re: kcchan
          huiray RE: kcchan Sep 20, 2012 01:58 PM

          Ah yes, that's right - snow-skin mooncakes need to be kept chilled...but frozen? Maybe for importation, then; are those ion 99 Ranch imported ones? Do local snow-skin mooncakes get frozen too?

        2. re: huiray
          ipsedixit RE: huiray Sep 21, 2012 08:39 AM

          Actually, many of the imported mooncakes in those decorated boxes are frozen. They are put in deep freeze for storage, esp. if they are overruns from previous years.

          1. re: ipsedixit
            huiray RE: ipsedixit Sep 21, 2012 09:42 AM

            That's curious. I have never bought or seen mooncakes-in-metal-boxes that were frozen. All have been displayed at room temperature and bought as such. Unless the manufacturers were engaging in fraud, all the decent tinned mooncakes I've seen have also been labeled with the year, or the tins themselves have been embossed with the year.

            Here's an example of the latest mooncake tin I bought: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8060...

            Do you have first-hand knowledge that imported tinned mooncakes are frozen before being sold - thawed out, for example, then sold at room temperature?

            1. re: huiray
              ipsedixit RE: huiray Sep 21, 2012 09:53 AM

              It was detailed in an expose a couple years ago in a Chinese newspaper.

              You can easily swap out the cardboard sleeve on those boxes (either tin or cardboard) and no one is the wiser. It's the sleeves that usu. have the date stamp.

              And even the metal boxes (like yours) that do not come with a sleeve, how hard do you think it is to make a new box (that says 2012) and put in last years mooncakes from deep freeze?

              1. re: ipsedixit
                huiray RE: ipsedixit Sep 21, 2012 10:00 AM

                I see. Well, in that case it is perhaps a good thing that one tries to stick to the good brands for better probabilities of getting good stuff. As for "locally baked" versus "imported", some folks may have no choice, or have found "local" stuff to be inferior to selected "imported" stuff. (E.g.: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/869248)

                Well, perhaps deep-frozen tuna should also be avoided for sushi and sashimi? :-) ;-)

                1. re: huiray
                  ipsedixit RE: huiray Sep 21, 2012 10:13 AM

                  If you're going to buy mooncakes, buy them at a bakery. Honestly, esp. in a place like SF where all the local bakeries are making them like Krispy Kreme churning out donuts.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    huiray RE: ipsedixit Sep 21, 2012 10:18 AM

                    There are no bakeries making mooncakes in my area that I know of. I mentioned above that some folks may have no choice. I'd need to head to Chicago. I also mentioned that some folks may also find local cakes to be not any better (or even worse) than some imported brands. KK below also enumerated many local bakeries in the SF area but I didn't get the sense that any local bakery was always better than any imported one?

                    In any case, this is getting afield of what I was curious about. What are your recollections of the brands of imported mooncakes available in SF and the Bay Area?

                    1. re: huiray
                      ipsedixit RE: huiray Sep 21, 2012 10:46 AM

                      I never go shopping for mooncakes. We make them at home.

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        K K RE: ipsedixit Sep 21, 2012 12:27 PM

                        "If you're going to buy mooncakes, buy them at a bakery. Honestly, esp. in a place like SF where all the local bakeries are making them like Krispy Kreme churning out donuts."

                        +1. That's the best way to ensure you're getting the real deal. It may be blasphemous to think some distributor somewhere is doing something with the imported tins, but again it's a matter of perceived value plus the quality you get as well as peace of mind.
                        Koi Palace mooncakes, Kee Wah, Golden Gate Bakery (just throwing an example out there) or even the cheaper Cooking Papa one I would rather buy and experiment, over a random imported tin of Wing Wah which no longer tastes like it did 20 years ago (and every year each batch seems different, last year's tin that family purchased seemed overly sweet). Or have a visiting relative or friend bring some of the good stuff from overseas that doesn't have preservatives (re: eat them uber fresh and right there and then the moment it arrives).

                        1. re: K K
                          huiray RE: K K Sep 22, 2012 01:23 AM

                          That's all well and good and fine advice, thanks. Still, I was primarily interested in what brands of imported mooncakes are there, as posed in my OP.

                    2. re: ipsedixit
                      klyeoh RE: ipsedixit Sep 22, 2012 02:18 AM

                      I was in one of Kuala Lumpur's malls today where the local bakers were making mooncakes on the spot: they moulded lotus paste around ducks' egg yolks, then folded dough around them before inserting into the mould.

                      Bought a box back - fresh mooncakes are absobloodylutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

                      P.S. - First time I'd heard of year-old, frozen mooncakes in the US (ugh!). Unthinkable here in Asia :-(

                      1. re: klyeoh
                        huiray RE: klyeoh Sep 22, 2012 02:28 AM

                        Didn't they still need to be baked, or were those snow-skin ones?

                        1. re: huiray
                          klyeoh RE: huiray Sep 22, 2012 02:39 AM

                          They had both types, and ovens were available to bake the ones with dough.

          2. re: SFEater124
            soupçon RE: SFEater124 Sep 21, 2012 09:32 PM

            I suspect you meant Eastern Bakery, not to be confused with the Far East Cafe, which doesn't sell mooncakes.

          3. singleguychef RE: huiray Sep 20, 2012 11:27 AM

            In San Francisco, there are several brands at the big Asian grocery stores that are imported, including those from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Malaysia. I don't know the names of popular bakeries, so I don't remember the brands. The only brand name I know is Kee Wah from Hong Kong (or was that Macau?) because I remember seeing their stores when I was in Hong Kong. I've bought their moon cakes in San Francisco before and they're good. Travels well because of all the oil used to make them! LOL

            Also, the Moon Festival Street Fair in San Francisco Chinatown happens this week. Last year when I went there were additional imported brands sold by vendors with booths, more so than what is offered up at the stores. There were several of those tea cakes from Singapore that are made with things like taro, comes in purple and pink colored shells, for example. I tried one and didn't really like them, on the dry side. Pretty though.

            1 Reply
            1. re: singleguychef
              huiray RE: singleguychef Sep 21, 2012 06:48 AM

              Thanks for the reply.

            2. d
              Dustin_E RE: huiray Sep 20, 2012 12:03 PM

              i don't know the brands, but the ones they were selling at koi palace looked better (and were priced higher) than any at ranch 99 i saw. didn't buy any, but the samples were great.

              1. K K RE: huiray Sep 20, 2012 02:12 PM

                There's actually a wide range available:

                - Local bakeries (old style, some Americanized somewhat or stuck in time, e.g. Chinatown). Most SF Chinatown bakeries are run by folks from China/Southern China, closer to Cantonese style.

                - Bakery chains. Kee Wah is Taiwanese American, or started off Taiwanese but evolved to do its own thing. Quality is not the same as what you would find in modern day Taiwan. We have branches of Kee Wah (from HK/TW) in remote parts of Bay Area that probably are the best locally made Cantonese styles, and possibly the priciest versions, upwards of $10+ for ones that contain savory ham and other materials. There are a variety of savory filling mooncakes at famous places as well, like Golden Gate Bakery.

                - of particular note, for a very limited time, vegan mooncakes from Lucky Creation Vegetarian (Cantonese) restaurant in SF Chinatown. Snapped up quickly by Buddhist vegans traveling overseas (kind of like Japanese expats buying wagashi from Benkyodo Co in SF Japantown and bringing them back to Japan, but not on the same level or fervor).

                - non Cantonese Chinese bakeries....perhaps harder to find, but you can find Cantonese and Taiwanese style mooncakes if you look hard enough. Some of the Taiwanese style moon cakes that are puff pastry and/or resemble husband/wife cakes or Taichung Taiwan style "sun cakes", can be found at the likes of Kee Wah or supermarkets.

                - go to any 99 Ranch or Marina Foods supermarket and there's a wide variety of imported mooncakes. Ones from Hong Kong (including brand names like Wing Wah), Macau, China, and even a "snow skin" durian mooncake (refrigerated) imported from Singapore. Some places have ones from the freezer that taste more like ice cream mochi desserts which are not quite my thing. Marina Supermarket also imports mooncakes from a bakery in Southern California (I Fu Tang I believe)

                - high end seafood restaurants that serve dim sum make and sell their own.

                - other places like Cooking Papa for example has a very affordable version ($16.80 per box of 6 small ones) that uses no preservatives and tastes really fresh and delicious (even the salted egg yolk doesn't taste preserved like the others), and their crust is like that of a puff pastry egg tart (or so it is called), and smaller sized, very delightful textures altogether.

                8 Replies
                1. re: K K
                  huiray RE: K K Sep 20, 2012 02:26 PM

                  Thanks, KK. Very informative.

                  Does the brand "Kam Lun Tai" ring a bell? Or "Foh San"?
                  My interest in the subject was piqued when I saw that banner ad for the Malaysian brand (Kam Lun Tai) on Chowhound...which struck me as an odd website for them to be advertising on if they didn't have (or were not intending to have) a presence in the US market.

                  (Earlier today I did find on the Marina Foods website info for the mooncakes they carry: http://marinafoodusa.com/promo/wp-con... ; but nothing specific on Ranch 99's website.)

                  1. re: huiray
                    K K RE: huiray Sep 20, 2012 03:06 PM

                    Haven't encountered those two brands yet.

                    The only brand that is immediately identifiable from SE Asia from the top side of the tin is probably 醉榴香 (the ice skin durian mooncakes) have to go to the refrigerator/freezer compartment for them.

                    I'd say with the price you pay for imports and the fact that freshness deteriorates over time via delivery (and storage prior to purchase), one is better off buying locally made mooncakes from a trusted source, whether it be a brand name bakery or restaurant that offers them seasonally. Much rather eat the Cooking Papa ones, for the price of two boxes, that's the cost of one Wing Wah tin.

                    1. re: K K
                      huiray RE: K K Sep 21, 2012 06:58 AM


                      Hmm. Perhaps the "醉榴香 (the ice skin durian mooncakes)" might be HK based after all? http://www.chuilauheung.com/index.php...

                      1. re: huiray
                        K K RE: huiray Sep 21, 2012 12:24 PM

                        Don't know, or maybe the orange box I saw in the refrigerator at Marina that is durian ice skin mooncakes is a different brand.

                  2. re: K K
                    Dawgmommy RE: K K Sep 29, 2012 10:54 AM

                    Re: "snow skin" moon cakes, is that something that's "evolved" in recent years?.... I don't remember seeing any when I was a child in HK or a teenager in Malaysia... what is the skin made out of, and are the fillings the same as the tradidtional ones?... Thanks.

                    1. re: Dawgmommy
                      kcchan RE: Dawgmommy Sep 29, 2012 08:50 PM

                      They're definitely a recent thing. I've never tried them, but from what I understand, it has a mochi-like skin and the fillings aren't the traditional fillings - I've seen mango, durian, strawberry, etc.

                      1. re: kcchan
                        K K RE: kcchan Sep 29, 2012 10:20 PM

                        Chinese wikipedia page says HK first had them in 1989 (by virtue of one bakery). I've only started noticing them in Marina Foods supermarket a few years ago, perhaps a trend taking a longer time to spread.

                        The one made by Maxim HK (imported) at Marina Foods tastes very similar to those mochi ice creams you can buy at any Chinese supermarket and Trader Joe's, but a bit more delicate....although not really something that I enjoy.

                        1. re: K K
                          klyeoh RE: K K Sep 30, 2012 09:02 AM

                          We had snowskin mooncakes in Singapore around that time, too - most probably introduced by HK bakers.

                  3. k
                    kcchan RE: huiray Sep 22, 2012 07:46 PM

                    Just got back from Marina Foods in Fremont - they had mooncakes from the big HK and Macau bakeries available - Maxim, Garden, Choi Heong Yuen, Wing Wah, St. Honore... I'm probably forgetting some. Also their snow-skin mooncakes were from Maxim.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kcchan
                      huiray RE: kcchan Sep 22, 2012 11:13 PM

                      Thanks for the feedback.

                    2. s
                      SFEater124 RE: huiray Sep 26, 2012 08:41 PM

                      Yes my mistake I meant Eastern Bakery thank you catching that... I had a brain fart. :)

                      1. s
                        sundeck sue RE: huiray Sep 26, 2012 09:33 PM

                        Which bakeries in Oakland Chinatown have the best moon cakes?

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: sundeck sue
                          Stephanie Wong RE: sundeck sue Sep 27, 2012 07:22 AM

                          Don't know if they're the best, but Big Dish on 9th St. had a wide selection 2 Saturdays ago at relatively reasonable prices.

                          1. re: Stephanie Wong
                            Melanie Wong RE: Stephanie Wong Sep 28, 2012 12:52 AM

                            Here's the inside of the lotus seed paste and salted egg yolk mooncake.

                            1. re: Stephanie Wong
                              shanghaikid RE: Stephanie Wong Sep 12, 2013 05:34 AM

                              sad to report big dish and wonder food no longer make their own mooncakes. it's been outsourced to china.
                              they just have their name on the box....

                            2. re: sundeck sue
                              abstractpoet RE: sundeck sue Sep 28, 2012 10:35 AM

                              Napoleon and Wonder both have a decent variety. I like Wonder's. Napoleon's seem to be some of the least expensive. They sell one with a whopping four (!) salted egg yolks.


                              That said, the yolk in Melanie's photo (from Big Dish?) looks better than either of those. Anyone know the reason sometimes the yolks are yellow while other times they're bright orange? Just the same reasons you have that variability in chicken eggs?

                              1. re: abstractpoet
                                Melanie Wong RE: abstractpoet Sep 28, 2012 11:05 AM

                                Well, the best salted yolks are duck eggs which are red-orange. But many places use chicken eggs. The ones from Big Dish seemed like chicken eggs to me though, not as oily and rich as duck eggs which often exude some grease.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                  abstractpoet RE: Melanie Wong Sep 28, 2012 11:18 AM

                                  Huh -- silly me, I just assumed they all used duck!

                                  Napoleon's were nice and salty but yellow; most definitely chicken, then, in retrospect. Wonder's were orange (though not quite red-orange) and a bit more brittle than appears to be the case in your pic.

                                  1. re: abstractpoet
                                    Melanie Wong RE: abstractpoet Sep 28, 2012 11:37 AM

                                    Sounds like Wonder's are duck eggs. The texture is a bit grainier usually than chicken eggs, maybe what you consider brittle.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                                      huiray RE: Melanie Wong Sep 28, 2012 11:58 AM

                                      Whether duck or chicken egg yolks it seems to me that "brittleness" would tend to go along with dried-out or overbaked mooncakes... (I've had those)

                                      1. re: huiray
                                        abstractpoet RE: huiray Sep 28, 2012 12:03 PM

                                        I'd say the yolk was slightly more brittle than I would have liked, but the lotus seed filling itself was smooth and quite moist. I think a decent amount of lard may have been involved.

                                        1. re: abstractpoet
                                          huiray RE: abstractpoet Sep 28, 2012 12:20 PM

                                          ...or the yolks were already dried out before the mooncake was even assembled?

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