One of the biggest holidays in the lunar calendar (besides Lunar New Year) is the Mid-Autumn Festival—a traditional harvest festival that originated in ancient China.
Held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar (September 13 this year), this annual celebration brings family and friends together to rejoice over good harvest and to moon-gaze.
During the festival season, it is tradition to indulge in mooncakes—specialty Chinese pastries usually made of lotus seed paste and egg yolk—under the full moon.
This method of making this type of sweet pastry has evolved over time. Even though lotus-seed-paste mooncakes are still very much in demand, contemporary styles such as snowskin and chocolate mooncakes have also become available.
Here are five places to find this special delicacy around town.
T&T Supermarket (various locations)
You’ll never go wrong by visiting a local Chinese supermarket when scavenging for quality mooncakes. T&T’s in-house bakery creates plenty of these specialty pastries each year, with flavours like white lotus seed with three yolks, wheat germ and black sesame, and mixed nuts mooncakes, among others. If you don’t think you can finish the regular-sized mooncakes, you can opt for the mini ones.
T&T also imports many mooncakes from renowned companies from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. You’ll be able to find these specialty boxed pastries from Hong Kong Maxims Bakery, Wing Wah, Hang Heung, Lian Xiang Lou, Kee Wah, the Peninsula Hotel, and more. If these babies aren’t sold-out by the time the festival is over, you may be able to snag them at a discounted price.
La Patisserie (1405–4771 Mcclelland Road, Richmond)
This traditional Chinese bakery shop is known for its delicious Chinese-style cakes and pastries, but it also makes limited orders of mooncakes each year when Mid-Autumn Festival comes around. Some of its mooncake selections include white lotus seed paste with egg yolk; durian, red bean, green tea, or black sesame snowskin; yellow lotus seed paste with double egg yolks; and custard.
La Patisserie usually accepts mooncake orders well in advance, so it may already running low on stock for walk-in customers looking for this specialty product. To avoid disappointment upon visiting, give them a call to inquire what’s currently available.
Soirette (1433 West Pender Street)
Besides its popular macarons and buttercream-filled cakes, Soirette is once again offering modern-style mooncakes this year. You won’t find any lotus-seed paste pastries here—instead, get your hands on a box of beautiful and uniquely flavoured mooncakes.
Handmade with fresh ingredients, its flavours range from Vietnamese coffee and salted cream to pineapple and lime leaf to milk candy and blueberry tea, among others. Its deluxe box comes with an extra mooncake: kaya toast, which gives a nod to Malaysian cuisine. A mini vegan baked mooncake box is also available, with flavours like durian, toasted walnut and dark chocolate, and black sesame.
TWG Tea Salon & Boutique (1070 West Georgia Street)
Singapore-based tea company TWG Tea is offering tea-infused mooncakes in its Moon Route Tea mooncake collection this year. Flavours range from “Constellation” (with a Singapore Breakfast tea-infused brown-lotus filling, roasted melon seeds, and salted egg yolk) wrapped in a golden crust, to “Harvest” (made with Mistral Tea and lemongrass-infused white-lotus paste and a strawberry-almond paste heart) inside a black crust, to “Moonlight” (white-lotus paste infused with matcha and an amarena cherry heart) encased in a golden-brown crust.
If you prefer snowskin mooncakes, try its tea-infused creations like “Pure” (white-satin snowskin with white-lotus paste and lotus cream), or “Blossom” (orange snowskin with Geisha Blossom Tea-infused white-lotus filling, peach confit, and a white chocolate heart.
Saint Germain Bakery (various locations)
Most Chinese bakeries in Metro Vancouver offer mooncakes because a majority of their clientele indulge in this seasonal pastry. Saint Germain Bakery makes Chinese-style cakes and bread, and it also has a number of mooncake offerings in-store and online.
Traditional sweet mooncakes like single-yolk with lotus seed paste and walnut-and-date paste are available, as are savoury flavours such as lava salted-yolk custard, and dried scallop with Chinese cured ham and mixed nuts. For something a little different, try its durian snowy mooncakes—its flavour profiles aren’t what you’d expect.