Mooncake season is here! These elaborately decorated hockey-puck-shaped pastries are symbolic of the moon at its fullest and brightest. They’re traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on September 21 this year; this ancient, important holiday in the Chinese calendar celebrates the moon, which is a symbol of unity and harmony. Over the years, it’s grown in popularity and is now celebrated in many East and Southeast Asian communities.
Every region has a unique approach when it comes to making the mooncake and its fillings. In southern China there’s a preference for green tea, egg yolks and thick, sweetened pastes of fruits, meat, seeds and beans; bakers in the north stuff theirs with all peanuts, walnuts and sesame. Fancy trying some? Grab one of these special-edition boxes of the luminous autumn pastries from London’s Asian food dons before they sell out like hot cakes. It’s a drop so exclusive that even the latest Yeezys will be quaking.
The meaty one
What is it? Lillian Luk aka Shanghai Supperclub does mooncakes a little differently. The uniqueness of these Shanghai savoury mooncakes lies within the crust. Her handmade layered, flaky and crumbly pastry uses high-fat content top-quality French butter instead of traditional lard and encases a juicy savoury pork meat filling (there’s a sweet red bean paste flavour for veggies). Adorning the top of each is an inky red Chinese character ‘鲜肉’ which means ‘fresh meat’.
13 Montagu Place, W1H 2ET. Until Sep 26. From £28 for six.
The arty one
What is it? Noodle & Beer is giving the Tate a run for its money with mooncakes that look like works of art. Its traditional baked kind has a variety of fillings, such as lotus seed paste with egg yolk, char siu pork and dry-cured jamón from Yunnan province. If you eat in, you can also try snowskin mooncakes: non-baked translucent versions that have a similar texture to mochi. Each cake is individually presented in a stunning box, which should be proudly displayed like the artistic masterpiece it is.
How to order? Eat-in, collection and nationwide delivery from noodleandbeer.slerp.com.
31 Bell Lane, E1 7LA. Until Sep 23. From £36.80 for six.
The luxe one
What is it? Min’s Mooncake has collabed with private caterer Elyse Li. They’ve gone down the snowskin route, but taken it to the next level. Their handmade mooncakes sport a mesmerising relief pattern on the top, and their texture is so ethereally light that the snowskin melts away in the mouth, releasing the deep flavour of the pandan custard or tangerine-peeland- red-bean filling.
How to order? Collection and delivery. DM on Instagram @by_elyse_li or WhatsApp 07429 204157.
Various locations. £45 for six. Until Sept 21.
The molten one
What is it? Barnet’s hidden-gem Canto-Malaysian restaurant Chu Chin Chow is producing a limited edition run of homemade mini lava mooncakes. Bite into them to reveal an oozing golden salted egg yolk custard centre that’s creamy, luxurious and guaranteed to make your eyes roll back in glee. Thanks to their mini size, you can totally eat them all in one sitting on your own.
How to order? Collection and delivery in local areas. DM on Instagram @chuchinchow at least two days in advance.
7 Cat Hill, EN4 8HG. £18.80 for four. Until Sep 30.
The flaky one
What is it? Mama Chen’s Kitchen’s laminated Taiwanese mooncake dough is stuffed with powdered sugar and salted duck egg yolk, which makes for an airy, delicate, croissant-like texture. Choose from a mung-bean-and-braised-meat filling covered in a white flaky skin and stamped with a red seal, or a glossy bake with red bean paste, black sesame and a salted egg yolk. Vegan options are also available.
Various locations. £13 for four. Until mid Oct.
The contemporary one
What is it? Trust the high-end Cantonese restaurant Hakkasan to do a modern take on the sweet treat. A stylish black box that celebrates the London icon’s twentieth anniversary contains two slick, sleek and sexy chocolate medallions: a sweet and rich black-sesame-and-chocolate creation, and a madeleine cake with bright and zesty yuzu ganache, white chocolate feuilletine and berry marmalade wrapped in a dulce de leche chocolate shell.
How to order? Collection and nationwide delivery from hakkasan.slerp.com.
Various locations. From £20 for two. Until Oct 1.
The vegan one
What is it? Known for its high-end patisserie, Yauatcha isn’t holding back on showcasing its lunar creativity. Its elegant, vegan snowskin mooncake is delicately flavoured with sweet floral pandan and the custard filling opens up to a symbolic golden centre. Each one nestled inside a charming moon decorated box.
How to order? Collection and nationwide delivery from yauatcha.slerp.com.
Various locations. £5 each, £36 for eight. Until Sep 30.
Celebrate at one of the capital’s finest Chinese restaurants.
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