This Chinatown institution is 82 years young and still going strong—just ask the dozens of families placing orders weeks before mooncake season even arrives. Phoenix Bakery may be known for its strawberry birthday cakes, but the Chan family’s multigenerational sweets shop turns into a factory for these seasonal treats every September, cranking out both miniature and large size options, as well as duck egg and non-duck egg varieties. In fact, an entire pastry case gets devoted to them throughout the month. Find them now through the start of October—but pick up a slice of their famed strawberry cake, while you’re there.
For those who celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Los Angeles, fall doesn’t just mean peak wildfire season, Halloween and apple picking. It also means mooncakes: dense, fluffy pastries stuffed with all kinds of delicious sweet and savory fillings, from salted duck egg yolks to red bean to even fresh pork. Occurring on Tuesday, September 21, this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival also happens to fall the night before autumnal equinox (the official first day of fall.)
Although many regional variations exist across China and parts of Southeast Asia, these wheat pastries are shaped in full moon-esque rounds to symbolize prosperity, harmony and togetherness. Hong Kong and Cantonese-style mooncakes typically have their tops pressed into molds, sometimes with the character for prosperity, while Taiwanese-style mooncakes are rounded on top. In any case, the cake’s overall shape mimics the harvest moon in the evening sky.
In Los Angeles, you can find these sweets pre-packaged in red-and-gold boxes in Asian grocery stores like 99 Ranch and made fresh daily in the city’s best Chinese bakeries on a seasonal basis. In recent years, they’ve become so popular that some places even make them year round. Celebrate the changing seasons with a pack of pastries from one of our top recommended mooncake spots in L.A.