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Moon Cakes are here !

they were putting up a big display of moon cakes at Ranch 99 the other day ......

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  1. Aren't Moon cakes the Chinese equivalent of the fruit cake--often gifted but never much appreciated?

    22 Replies
    1. re: steamer

      ? I love moon cakes and devour them with great delight.

      1. re: steamer

        Everyone I know who is Chinese loves them

          1. re: Sirrith

            Nobody in my extended Shanghainese family likes mooncakes. Unless, of course, they are freshly made meat mooncakes.

            1. re: Sirrith

              Nope, hardly anyone in my family looks forward to them. They are the Chinese fruitcake.

            2. re: steamer

              We make them at home many times. Each time I refuse to eat them.

              1. re: steamer

                not true. chinese mooncakes are a part of chinese folklore, history, and culture. most people love some variety of mooncake.

                mooncakes supposedly were used to distribute secret messages by chinese hans trying to overthrow their mongolian rulers during the yuan dynasty.

                most people i know look forward to receiving mooncakes as gifts.

                not familiar with any history regarding fruit cakes.

                1. re: shanghaikid

                  The fruitcake (not any cake with fruit - rather, a specific type of cake resembling the English Christmas cake) is sort of legendary in the US for being traditional to eat (and gift) at the holidays and also widely hated. Much ink has been spilled as to why this is but my theories are:

                  1) people just prefer chocolate and so many find fruit cake disappointing.
                  2) it's easy to make a bad and dried-out fruitcake. Fruitcake is at its best when soaked through with liquor.

                  1. re: bigwheel042

                    Wouldn't it be easier to drink the liquor instead?

                    1. re: Kalivs

                      The first rule of fruitcake is don't try to apply logic to fruitcake.

                    2. re: bigwheel042

                      Fruitcake can be good if it's not sodden with too much candied fruit and has the right ration of nuts. Love it with pistachios and hazelnuts.

                      We hated to make these in our pastry kitchen. The chef used fancy unchopped fruit. Many of us hate chopping dried fruit.

                  2. re: steamer

                    Love: Eastern Bakery. Single yolk. (2 is overkill.) Lotus seed paste.

                    All others are as fruitcake to me.

                    1. re: indigirl

                      Eastern Bakery changed hands a decade or 2 ago. the new owners changed the formalation. tasted like more fillers (flour, corn starch, etc,) added instead of pure lotus bean, etc,

                      probably a concidence i stopped eating domestic mooncakes..(hong kong ones too).

                      1. re: shanghaikid

                        Eastern Bakery was owned by the Lee family was it but like you said that was a long time ago. Now you have find a good one.

                        1. re: shanghaikid

                          Aha... Thanks for clearing up a small mystery for me. I thought it was childhood nostalgia plus my evolving tastebuds that made them seem not quite as good as I remembered. So, can you recommend a successor to my personal mooncake throne?

                          1. re: indigirl

                            haven't been eating mooncakes for quite awhile.

                            random thoughts:
                            -think ken k. made some excellent suggestions re: mooncakes in another thread
                            -would avoid all mooncakes from mainland china (too much fillers, lotus bean not authentic
                            -domestic bakeries have single mooncake for sale, no need to buy whole box. (black bean was tasty)
                            -found sheng kee (s.f.-many locations) innovative and tasty, pricey too

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Thanks Melanie! Dublin & Milpitas are way too much of a trek for me up here in the Bay, but fortunately Kee Wah Monterey Park is about 3 minutes from my SoCal base... color me stoked!

                                1. re: indigirl

                                  Belatedly following up on this thread... so, last year I went & bought a mini mooncake from Kee Wah, & was disappointed, but realized that it was the mini-ness of it that was throwing off the ratio of lotus seed paste to yolk & dough wrapper. The yolk took up most of the space in the mini cake so there wasn't enough lotus seed paste to spread its fatty sweet goodness around; too much yolk & dough in each bite, resulting in a sort of dry, crumbly experience.

                                  So this year, despite having nobody to share it with (spousette has allergies) I sprung for the expensive ($9.45, yikes!) regular size cake. Wow! Really good. I ate almost half of it all by myself over the course of the evening. I never eat that much mooncake! I'm sold. Will probably be pining away for it next year when I'm back in the East Bay.

                        2. re: steamer

                          moon cakes as fruit cake - that's funny ! we used to look forward to them as kids when we had to make a trip to Chinatown. I still like them but in moderation ..... I'm down with the sweet bean paste filling but can't handle the egg yolk - even if that does signify the moon. love the intricate molds and resulting pastry.

                          1. re: steamer

                            this is true for BAD moon cakes but good moon cakes are a delight and gladly savored by almost every Asian person I know.

                            1. re: steamer

                              All the Chinese people I know, including my family who are from Taiwan and Shanghai, love mooncake, though everyone has flavors they like and others they care less for. The hubby and I just bought 6 full-sized ones yesterday from Kee Wah (better than Sheng Kee) to eat for ourselves. No gifting! We look forward to mooncakes every autumn.

                              My favorite flavor is red bean with (preferably) 2 egg yolks. If you can get freshly made meat mooncakes (with a flaky pastry instead of the traditional denser version), they are superb. Marina Food in Cupertino started offering them a couple of years ago during festival time. I haven't checked again this year, but I hope they will have them again!

                            2. Yes, will be in store until Sep 15 after which they will be reduce until sold out.

                              Local ones are better than import found in markets.

                              Too bad they are too rich for me to have too many.

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: yimster

                                How many is too many, yimster? Very little pastry in those moon cakes. And what's wrong with lots of beans and nuts?

                                1. re: pilinut

                                  Two slice of four cakes has to do. White lotus, nuts and fruit, winter melon and one which I have not had before. They seem to be adding more flavors each year. Our family on the most part loves them and it our custom to give a box to our closest family something my Mother beat in my mind. Well it almost time to order them again. Very rich and thank goodness it is only once a year.

                                  1. re: pilinut

                                    beans, nuts ok, it's the lard and fillers that get to you, calories wise,

                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                      I believe September 15 is a reference to the Lunar date.

                                      The solar or Gregorian date would be October 19, 2013.

                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                        the "mid autmun festival" or moon cake celebration occurs only during a full moon. (sept or oct. on gregorian calendar)

                                        sept. 15th may be a consensus date (for commerical reasons?)

                                        moon cake facts:
                                        -vietnamese considers mid autumn day "2nd most important holiday tradition".
                                        -taiwan proclaimed mid autumn day a public holiday.
                                        -PRC proclaimed in 2008 mid autumn day a public holiday

                                        source: wikipedia

                                        1. re: shanghaikid

                                          OK, the full moon is September 19 (Thursday). Would people who care about this holiday really accept the idea of observing it on a different day (with no full moon) for commercial reasons?

                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                            people can observe "mid-autumn festival day" any day they choose. the commercial reasons is the targeted date of the celebration. the producers of mooncakes made same available in advance of the targeted date.

                                            1. re: shanghaikid

                                              They are already available, that was the point of this thread… So I'm still wondering if there's anything special about September 15 this year. Maybe ipse was on the right track and yimster was thinking of the lunar date 8/15.

                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                fyi, the targeted "moon day" changes every year when viewing the gregorian calendar. you can check out when the lunar "8/15th" occurs when the chinese calendars come out around thanksgiving.

                                                it's written in small print in chinese next to the regular calendar date.

                                        2. re: DeppityDawg

                                          The date matches 8/15 by the lunar calendar which is the date of the full moon and the date of the upraising to overthrow the Yuan.

                                        3. re: yimster

                                          I haven't been able to source any bakery that sells them at clearance price post lunar 15th. It's almost like all the moon cakes vaporizes after that date. Please share if you know one :).

                                          1. re: rotiprata

                                            Well, find a local bakery that you like and show a day or two before the lunar 15th. You may find that if they have leftovers at that time they will reduce the prices. A few bakeries will take a couple of days off after that date to rest. After the 15th they will give away the leftover to employees and friends.

                                        4. Here is a link to the extensive list of moon cake offerings at Eastern Bakery:


                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: dordogne

                                            Any info about prices? About how much do they sell for at Ranch 99?

                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                              ranch 99 had them from 13.99 to 39.99(koi)

                                              lion's market had them from 14.00 to 29.95

                                              usual packing is 4 mooncakes. koi's was minicakes, not sure how many.

                                            2. re: dordogne

                                              There's also Vietnamese description on the list. Are the folks at Eastern Bakery Vietnamese by any chance?

                                              I *love* Vietnamese baked goods.

                                              1. re: klyeoh

                                                fyi, these mooncakes are not vietnamese baked goods. they are marketed to ethnic chinese who have immigranted from vietnam. these are chinese baked goods. (vietnam ones are white in color)

                                                don't know for a fact, just guessing the new owner of eastern is of ethnic chinese extraction from vietnam.

                                                1. re: shanghaikid

                                                  Of course I knew mooncakes are Chinese.
                                                  By Viet baked goods, I was referring to *other* stuff they may have - baguettes, etc.

                                                  1. re: klyeoh

                                                    I was watching a Vietnamese grandmother teaching her grand kids on how to make this "white" mooncake which is not bake at all but made with steamed flour and rowed out. Another texture but the same idea. A nice break from the Chinese one.

                                                    1. re: yimster

                                                      Vietnamese cuisine are almost as rich as the Chinese. And they have as many (modern) varieties of mooncakes as HK or Singapore: baked, snow skin, flaky pastry, mochi-like skin, etc.

                                                      I'd never been to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City during the Mid-Autumn Festival, but colleagues have brought back to Singapore the Vietnamese versions for us to try, e.g. bánh trung thu (very similar to Cantonese ones) and bánh bía (similar to Hainanese and Fujianese ones). No difference in flavour to the Chinese ones, too.

                                                    2. re: klyeoh

                                                      have never known them to make baguettes. eastern is a traditional chinese bakery.

                                                      you can always drop in their shop in s.f chinatown on grant ave to check them out.

                                              2. I once tried to buy one from Victor's Bakery on Taraval and the woman wouldn't sell me one! Told me I wouldn't like it. I don't know if I'd like it or not, but I wanted to try just like I tried all the various other things in the case (when the L line was running late, which was often.)

                                                I still haven't had one and would still like to try. I've had stuff with the sweet bean paste filling before and already know I like that. Maybe I'd like the egg kind, too!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Violatp

                                                  sheng kee has 2 stores on irving. believe the bigger one near 19th ave. has individual mooncakes for sale.

                                                2. I bought some at Costco yesterday! They had a stand that sold both the boxes of 4 ($15-16) and smaller 2 packs that were shaped like panda or boar ($5). Got the smaller one since I'm just one person.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: bobabear

                                                    interesting. curious what label they are selling? sounds imported.

                                                    how did you like them?

                                                    1. re: shanghaikid

                                                      Doesn't have a brand named on the box, but says "Product of Malaysia" imported to LA.

                                                      I just tried one tonight... The outside crust is a bit dry, but filling is good. Plus it looks like a panda and is cute for kids!

                                                      1. re: bobabear

                                                        probably better than the ones made from china. hopefully the ingredients doesn't show a lot of fats and palm oil.

                                                        remembered eastern bakery used to make bear shaped "cookies" though it didn't have any filling.

                                                  2. Hmm, raised on the east coast in a Chinese American family and my father would get excited about moon cakes. The only ones I really like are the mixed nuts with duck egg yolks (double better than singles) but can only eat little slivers because they are so dense and rich. Haven't really tried many of the other flavors but I suspect I would like them - but hey, what do I know, I like fruitcake!

                                                    1. The moon has fascinated the Chinese since the dawn of history. The moon followed thruout the year as the guidepost of everything Chinese. According to the Chinese lunar-moon calendar, the Mid Autumn Moon Festival or "harvest moon" is held on the 15th day of the 8th "moon" month close to the autumn equinox, when yin and yang are in perfect balance.

                                                      Mooncakes Historically: Mongol Tartar hordes of Ghengis Khan destroyed the Chinese Song Dynasty and established their Yuan Dynasty in the 13th Century (1280 AD-1368 AD). However, many Han Cantonese-- southern Chinese--resented the oppression, persecution and slavery rule by these foreign barbarian. In the 14th Century, Liu Bowen helped plot the overthrow of the Yuan Dynasty by organizing resistance to be held during the August Moon Festival in 1368, Since the Tartar Mongolians did not eat Chinese mooncakes. Chinese bakers were told to pass along secret messages in mooncakes to all Chinese households containing a slip of paper on which was written an incantation, appropriate action at midnight to execute all Mongolians after the August Moon family gathering but not to eat the mooncakes until the 15th of the 8th lunar moon. If done, they would surely be freed and, thus founding of the next Ming Dynasty under Emperor Zhu.

                                                      To commemorate the victory, Cantonese-southern Chinese honored the "mooncake" as their symbol of victory. Round palm-sized flaky pastry dough stuffed with sweet bean-paste filling with salted duck golden yellow egg yolks at the center, mooncake represent heavenly blessing and symbolize family unity and perfection. This expensive delicacy has a wide variety of fillings, e.g. egg yolk, lotus seed paste, taro, black bean paste, red bean paste, coconut, walnuts, dates are available. Individually hand made it takes as long as 2 to 4 weeks to prepare. The Cantonese use a custom-made seasoned, wooden mold to shape each moon cake top with an embossed insignia of the baker or characters for “longevity”, “harmony” molded into the golden brown skin. Mooncake can even be refrigerated or freezed for a month before eaten. Moon Cookies made from the mold-shape of pigs, fish, gods, or sages are made for children.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: PTT

                                                        I'd often wondered how my earliest ancestor celebrated the mooncake festival in his time - we trace our family lineage back to our progenitor who was born in 1312 and was then a Han subject of the reigning Mongol Emperor Renzong aka Buyantu Khan (the 8th Great Khan of the Mongols). He subsequently lived through the anti-Mongol revolution and the overthrow of the last Mongol Emperor Huizong aka Ukhaantu Khan. Only the birth and death dates of all our ancestors are recorded and kept in our clanhouse, *not* any other details.

                                                      2. I see that The Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers is have a Mooncake Making Workshop in September 13. Contact Frank at frankjang888@gmail.com for more information.

                                                        1. As a point of information, Fancy Wheatfields Bakery, which took over the Victoria Pastry space at Stockton & Vallejo, has house-made mooncakes and their own elegant packaging, icluding a nice big round tin. They also have cello-wrapped singles, about $4.50-$5.50 per, depending on contents.

                                                          I'll leave it to others to comment on the quality, as I am mooncake intolerant. I don't know if they make them at their original San Bruno Avenue location, perhaps someone's had them there.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: soupçon

                                                            almost every bakery in s.f. chinatown makes mooncakes.
                                                            haven't eaten mooncakes for awhile, too many calories.

                                                          2. 'Tis the season and I've had my first mooncake of the year. I bought it at Mee Mee Bakery in San Francisco Chinatown. Housemade and freshly baked. I think this white lotus with single salted egg yolk was $5.25, so on the high side. This tasted more like a chicken egg than duck egg to me, as it was a bit dry. But the very thin pastry was pretty and fresh-tasting, and the white lotus filling was pretty good.

                                                            I think Kee Wah and Koi Palace make better ones. But this will do when I can't get to those spots.


                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                              Quite a fantastic photo of the moon cake, Melanie.

                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                I picked up our mooncake this week and the bakery packed our boxes in a box of salted duck eggs from China so I think they will the real deal. Have not eaten any yet but next Monday.

                                                                1. re: yimster

                                                                  You bought mooncakes from Mee Mee?

                                                              2. Bought the Costco moon cakes, mixed nuts with double yolks and the white lotus seed with double yolks, okay but not as good as the ones I bought at Clement Bakery. Use to only like the mixed nut ones but now branching out. Like others said, can only eat slices since they are so rich. The Clement Bakery moon cakes come in an elegant folding box like a contained library box; nicer presentation in my opinion that the cans! They also had a coconut one in addition to the red bean paste but I don't like super sweet things and the seller said it was sweet and I should stick with what I bought. I was raised on the east coast in a predominantly white Maryland suburb; my father LOVED the August moon festival and would buy the moon cakes in Washington DC where he worked for the Voice of America and I never understood why he loved them so much but I think it was the associations with his childhood and the festivals etc. So now I'm nostalgic about them and actually enjoying the taste.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: cyssf

                                                                  Some of the high-end local ones, like the pricey stuff from Koi Palace, aren't rich at all. They are almost too dry, from the (perhaps too) moderate use of oil (and sugar). I still have the mooncakes from Koi Palace from last year. :-/

                                                                2. I was gifted one yesterday from 85C in Cupertino. A medium-small size filled with red bean paste and one egg yolk, priced at $3.75. Pastry was kind of flaky. Egg yolk was crumbly. Not too sweet.

                                                                  1. Ran Khanom in Richmond has durian and fruit/nut mooncakes from Thailand. Each about $7.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: rubadubgdub

                                                                      Mitsuwa in west San Jose has chestnut mooncakes as of a couple days ago.

                                                                    2. Not done with moon cakes for the year yet . . . last week my auntie gave us a box from Eastern Bakery. Lotus seed paste with double yolks. Exciting since I've not had one from this Chinatown old-timer for ages.

                                                                      Sealed in plastic, the inside of the individual package was coated with grease and the fat had soaked through the soft pastry exterior of the mooncake. The lotus paste was on the darker side of the spectrum and was much smoother than recent examples and almost gooey.