We like to think of mooncakes as the fruitcake you actually want to eat. These Asian pastries are sometimes as dense as the maligned holiday loaves—but always better (and look much more appetizing). They’re rarely overly sweet and filled with ingredients including lotus seeds, peanuts, red bean paste and even a duck egg yolk.
Over a few weeks each year, you can walk into any number of Chinatown restaurants, bakeries and markets across town and find these cakes, usually in circular or square shapes. We’d consider them one of the best desserts in NYC if they were more widely available, but these days, you can find them at trendier Asian restaurants (as well as at one of the leading hotels in the city). The mooncakes are eaten across Asian countries to celebrate the autumn harvest today, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. For us, we’d eat these desserts if they were baked year-round.
Chef Yuchun Cheung opened Little Alley as an homage of sorts to the Shanghainese cuisine he grew up eating. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the biggest holidays in Asia, and these Suzhou-style mooncakes here are made with a shortbread-like flaky exterior filled with sweet (red bean paste) and savory (pork) options. 550 Third Ave.
The Langham Hotels & Resorts brand is among the most beloved hotel groups in Asia, so it’s no surprise that The Langham on Fifth Avenue is celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival. However, this year is the first time the property is offering the mooncakes. Inside a stylishly-designed box, you’ll find four cakes, each filled with white lotus seed paste with an egg yolk flavor ($62 per box). 400 Fifth Ave.
Take a break from the fiery Szechuan cuisine here (or get dessert) with these perfectly-shaped mooncakes. 39-16 Prince St. in Flushing and 19-23 Saint Marks Place in East Village
After you devour one of the best Peking ducks in the city, DaDong will offer a complimentary house-made mooncake (available through September 14th). There are three flavors: matcha and red bean, rose and lotus seeds, and mixed nuts with fruits. 3 Bryant Park
We love these dense moonckes for the lotus-seed paste and the hints of nuttiness punctuated by a duck egg yolk for a balance of sweet and savory. You also can buy one versus an entire box to take home. 83 Mulberry St.
A Moon Festival prix-fixe menu will be available Sept. 12th from 7-9PM at the 14th Street location of this elegant Chinese restaurant. After you dig into crispy chicken wings and fried noodles, you can feast on the Shanghai-style mooncakes, either with minced pork or a five nut mix. 343 W. 14th St.