This Year's Mooncake Cheat Sheet and Dining Freebies to Win
Believe it or not, Mid-Autumn Festival is just around the corner, and that can only mean one thing… it’s mooncake season! And no matter how you feel about its signature pastry, Mid-Autumn Festival is one of China's biggest holidays, so whether it's coming from colleagues, family, or friends, the mooncake is all but inevitable.
Unfortunately, the word "mooncake" doesn't tend to tantalize some people's appetite. For whatever reason, we all love cake, but as soon as the word moon is thrown in front of it, our sweet tooth seemingly turns bitter and resentful. But we're here to tell you it doesn't have to be that way.
This year we found a list of mooncakes that aren't only beautiful but taste delicious as well, and are more than enough to restore your faith in this ancient tradition! Think of them as exquisitely packaged small cakes instead of the tired old mooncakes that have regretfully left most of us with scarred taste buds. Cousins of the ever-so-loved cupcakes if you will.
This year, the big day falls on Sep 21, so pretty much anytime between now and then is totally acceptable for doling out these deliciously festive treats to your friends and colleagues. And let’s be honest, not trying to throw shade or anything, but getting mooncakes after that date usually means you’ve just been regifted. Or worse, you're doing the regifting (and everyone will know it)!
So for now, we’re going to skip the history of Mid-Autumn Festival and what a mooncake is. There’s more than enough of that going around. Instead, we're going to take the guesswork out of your gifting and highlight some of the yummiest mooncakes available in Beijing this year.
This contemporary tea and cake shop is super popular with locals and expats alike. Aside from their wide selection of herbal tea blends, they’re known for creating desserts that are both beautiful and delicate in taste. Their cakes “aren’t too sweet,” which in local Chinese is the highest compliment one can pay a dessert, and each hints at subtle flavors of various teas. This year their mooncakes reflect just that. Subtle, elegant flavors in timeless, minimalist packaging.
These are the contemporary mooncakes you gift that friend who isn’t into mainstream brands but loves quality.
RMB 288 for a box of six. Early bird price: RMB 245
Matchall’s Doramon Mooncakes
Matchall makes delicious matcha products that are bursting with flavor. What’s more, these mooncakes are an adorable blast from the past. As an added bonus, the box comes with a fun Mid-Autumn Festival Doramon display that kids can assemble, elevating these delicious treats to family activity.
For the friends with young kids, or those who are still young at heart.
RMB 169 for a box of six.
Like everything else at Venchi, this one is going to cost you an arm and a leg. The three-layer mooncake box is a veritable display case all its own. Layers of chocolate mooncakes sit above a layer of various Venchi chocolate, plus an orange Venchi branded paper lantern to quite literally top the whole thing off.
Whether it’s family, friends, or colleagues, this one is for the brand-conscious person you really want to suck up to.
RMB 1,268. Early Bird: RMB 1,068
This is the first year that East Beijing has created mooncakes and true to form, the design is minimalistic and environmentally friendly. They only have one option and it’s a four-piece box with four different flavored and colored mooncakes, each with a modern twist and topped with a macaron.
For your colleagues in the office, PTA friends, or anyone else you want to show appreciation for without breaking the bank.
RMB 288 box of four. Early Bird price: RMB 230.40
Also for the first time ever, The House Collective created an eight-piece mini-mooncake set that’s packaged in a gorgeous eco-friendly wooden box, designed to be reused long after the mooncakes have been enjoyed. Made with sustainable FSC-certified wood and crafted using eco-friendly carpentry techniques to minimize waste, even the mooncakes themselves are tucked into mini paper boxes made from recycled paper.
This one goes out to those with an eye for modern art and eco-conscious living.
RMB 528 for a box of eight
If you’re looking for a safe bet, this is it. In collaboration with celebrity Master Chef Jereme Leung – one of the most acclaimed Chinese chefs in the world and head of nine successful restaurant concepts all across Asia – internationally renowned hotel group Accor Hotels created two mooncake sets.
These elegant and classic designs are perfect for foodie friends and fans of innovative Chinese cuisine.
If your friends are from Singapore, this one brings an extra touch of home because Chef Leung is based in Raffles Singapore, the original home of the Singapore Sling.
RMB 168 for a box of four.
RMB 268 for a box of eight.
If you're looking to tug on some heartstrings, then this is the mooncake for you. This year Fairmont Beijing has created two mooncakes that are distinctly different. One is their Venna designer glam rock-inspired creation that's all about the bling, and the other is sky blue and gives back to the community.
Our favorite is their collection created with Golden Wings Art Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children. Founded in 2010, Golden Wings is a private non-profit organization that uses art to enrich the lives of autistic children.
The boxes feature six artworks by students at Golden Wings and for each box sold, Fairmont Beijing will donate a portion of the proceeds to the center.
Of course, this one is for the philanthropist in your life.
RMB 258 for a box of six
Tips for buying mooncakes:
Plan ahead! In case you missed it, just about every establishment is offering early bird discounts, so not only can you save a few RMB but you also won’t risk them selling out.
Buy in bulk! With the exception of brands like Starbucks or Venchi, hotels and restaurants will often give you a discount or throw in a couple of extra boxes if you buy in bulk. Each place has its own definition of what “bulk” is, but it never hurts to ask if you’re looking to buy more than just one or two boxes.
# WIN #
As an added perk, Fairmont Beijing is giving away a one afternoon tea set for two in the Lobby Lounge valued at RMB 388 and lunch buffet for two at Lunar 8 valued at RMB 516.
From now until the end of August artwork by the Golden Wings Art Rehabilitation Center students who designed this year's Fairmont Beijing mooncake boxes will be on display.
Spend a delicious day at the Fairmont with some art work and tasty treats.
To win, leave a moon-themed haiku poem in the comment section below. The two poems with the most likes by Sunday (Aug 22) wins!
What's a haiku?
A haiku is a poem consisting of three short lines in 5-7-5 syllables that do not rhyme.
Round moon in the sky
Food tastes better when it's free
Want to win buffet
We came up with that in 5 mins. You can do better!
Images: Mina Yan, Fairmont Beijing, Courtesy of vendors
Expat Kids Still Waiting as Beijing’s 12- to 14-Year-Olds Start Vaccinations
Where Beijing’s Teachers Get Their Back-to-School Class Supplies
AEDs Made Mandatory in Schools