The most significant food item for the Mid-Autumn Festival has to be, without a doubt, mooncakes. You see them everywhere when the time of the year rolls around: on posters all over MTR stations, in ads on television, in local bakeries, restaurants...
One of the main aspects of traditional Chinese culture is unity, which is also one of the celebrated ideas in the Mid-Autumn Festival. True to its name, the shape of the mooncake resembles a full moon. The round shape (yuán in Chinese), sounds similar to unity (tuán yuán in Chinese), hence, epitomises this integral aspect. Besides representing their wishes of unity for their family, mooncakes also symbolise people's gratitude for good harvest to the gods.
Mooncakes are said to have originated from the Yuan dynasty, which were used by the revolutionaries to pass secret messages from one to another. The rebellion was a success and their leader was able to establish the Ming dynasty, so they decided to celebrate the occasion with mooncakes.
Traditional mooncakes are usually rich lotus seed paste and salted egg yolks wrapped with a thin layer of pastry, baked to golden brown perfection. Across different provinces in China, the filling of the mooncakes also vary from red or black bean paste, date paste, or nuts and seeds. This Mid-Autumn Festival, aside from the regular mooncakes, be sure to check out the following selection of time-honoured and contemporary mooncakes:
1. Duddell's Limited Edition Cream and Custard Mooncakes
This year, Duddell is collaborating with renowned local artist Michael Lau to create limited edition pig-shaped mooncakes packed in fun, moon-shaped boxes. Michelin star executive chef Siu Hin-Chi will be crafting delicate cream-and-custard-filled mooncakes for this special occasion, and each box will include one Duddell's signature mooncake along with 6 pig-shaped mooncakes. The creative moon-shaped boxes designed by Michael Lau are playful, yet symbolic of the festival. Look closely, and you might even see the box smiling back at you!
2. Pierre Hermé Paris Mooncakes
Pierre Hermé revisits Mid-Autumn Festival with 4 new flavours of mooncakes. These exquisite mooncakes are all dipped in Mexican Pure Origin dark chocolate, bringing a luscious twist to the traditional delicacy. The 4 flavours are:
Sensation - the new moon, consisting of almond praline and toasted almond slivers.
Ouvre-Toi - the first crescent, with sesame praline and sesame nougatine.
Mathilda - the full moon, consisting of almond praline with lemon zest, and roasted almond slivers. Infiniment Praline Noisette - the waning crescent, with a crunchy and smooth hazelnut praline.
3. Pak Loh Chiu Chow's Authentic Chiu Chow Mooncakes
With the festival around the corner, Pak Loh Chiu Chow proudly presents their authentic Chiu Chow Mooncakes. Unlike traditional mooncakes with the chewy pastry, Pak Loh Chiu Chau's mooncakes have a crispy outer layer of pastry. There are 2 different flavours up for grabs; mung bean and yam. Paired with the delicate and flaky pastry, these creamy fillings will make the mooncakes taste absolutely divine. These simple yet rich fillings are greatly representative of the Chiu Chow heritage, and will be sure to provide a unique Mid-Autumn Festival experience.
4. Shang Palace Mooncakes
Shang Palace introduces 2 brand new flavours this Mid-Autumn Festival, along with their most popular mooncakes. The new ones are: Uji Matcha Mooncake with Red Bean and Chestnut Paste, and Mini Green-Tea-Flavoured Snowy Mooncake with Tokachi Red Bean and Green Tea Paste. Other mooncakes available are: 30-year Mandarin Peel and Red Bean Paste Mooncake, Mini Snowy Mooncake with D24 Durian Paste, Chiu Chow Mooncake with Pandan Leaf, Yam Paste, and Salty Egg Yolks, Mini Pineapple Paste Mooncake with Mashed Egg Yolk, and Mini Crispy Custard Mooncake with Mashed Egg Yolk. In addition, there are also special boxes of mooncake made for fund raising, and all proceeds will go to Heep Hong Society's Children Training Fund.
5. JW Marriott Hotel Macau: Mid-Autumn Delight
For this year's festival, Man Ho Chinese Restaurant of the JW Marriott Macau is bringing out 6 different mooncakes. The flavours are: White Lotus Paste with Bird's Nest, Supreme Custard, Red Lotus Paste with Egg Yolk, White Lotus Paste with Egg Yolk, and Green Tea with Red Bean Paste and Preserved Ham and Assorted Nuts. This wide range of flavours available will be sure to cater to all different tastes. The red faux leather bag that comes with purchase of the mooncakes can also be refashioned into a trendy wine holder-- what a bonus!
6. Ritz-Carlton, Macau: Autumn Moon Treasure Box
Lai Heen at the Ritz-Carlton, Macau compiles the well-loved mooncakes from the past years into the epic Autumn Moon Treasure Box this Mid-Autumn. In the Treasure Box are the Mini Egg Custard Mooncake, and Mini Purple Sweet Potato Mooncake with Chestnut. The smooth and delectable fillings are wrapped with light and delicate pastry which comes together as a wonderful treat. These mooncakes are packed in individual boxes which sit in a beige chest with elegant floral patterns. The special floral design alludes to unity and completeness, highlighting the happy spirit of reunion as celebrated by the festival.
7. Hyatt Regency Hong Kong: A Tasteful Discovery
The Chinese Restaurant at Hyatt Regency offers "Tasteful Discovery" this year, a complete set of mooncakes enclosed in a designer gift box. Inspired by the past, present, and future of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the team at Hyatt Regency presents 3 flavours of mooncakes. A classic and enduring flavour for traditionalists; White Lotus Seed Paste Mooncake with Two Yolks, a contemporary and fresh flavour indicative of the present; Mini Golden Lily Oolong Tea with Wolfberries and Red Date Paste Mooncake, and an all-time favourite that would continue to be adored for ages to come; Mini Custard Mooncake. The gift box features a design of aesthetically harmonised shades of lanterns, which will be sure to enhance the overall Mid-Autumn experience.
8. JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong Mooncakes
Executive Chinese Chef Jayson Tang of Man Ho Chinese Restaurant Hong Kong has meticulously crafted a selection of mooncakes for this year. A new addition to the selection is the Mini Pandan Paste with Egg Yolks Mooncake, offering a refreshing fragrance with ultimate creaminess. There will also be a return of the favourites, including the 8-inch Royal Supreme, filled with ginger, white lotus seed paste, and 8 egg yolks, as well as the Mini Traditional White Lotus Seed Paste with Half Egg Yolk Mooncakes.