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Mooncakes

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.

Thanks.

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

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

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        "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

                          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

                      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

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

                        1. re: huiray

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

          2. re: SFEater124

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

          3. 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. 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. 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

                  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

                    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

                      Thanks.

                      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

                        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

                    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

                      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

                        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

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

                  3. 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