Manhattan’s Fung Wong is where I tried my first mooncake decades ago.
Last week I paid a visit to Manhattan’s Chinatown with my brother John. The neighborhood has changed much since we used to go there with our father 30 years ago, but some things remain the same, notably the tea parlors and Fung Wong Bakery. The latter is where I used to get blobs of chewy sweet rice cake for dessert after hitting up Wo Hop with my parents. It’s also where I tried my first mooncake.
After John and I caught up over dim sum at Nom Wah, I poked my head into Fung Wong to see dozens of mooncakes lining the case and stacks of red boxes proclaiming, “BEST MOON CAKES IN CHINATOWN N.Y.” Back in Queens, I shared the treat with some dear friends. The filling of fruit paste and preserved duck egg had an old-fashioned feel to it, more of a rough texture than others, whose smoother paste seems more processed. The real thing that set it apart though was the dough itself, which was far less dense and sweeter than any I’ve had in recent memory. (more…)
“Mooncakes!!??, a Chinese friend said to me over breakfast recently. “Nobody likes them, they’re like fruitcake for Asians.” The dense cakes stamped with Chinese characters are traditionally eaten (sometimes begrudgingly) and gifted—much like fruitcake—for the Moon Festival, which falls on Sunday, September 27 this year. All sorts of mooncakes, including novelty ones for pandas and those made from Taiwanese hornet hives are prepared for the fall harvest festival, which is held on the night of the full moon between early September and early October. (more…)
Malaysian mooncake with pandan filling and a salted egg center.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking tea at Yumcha Yoga in Flushing. It’s a monthly ritual (yumcha means to drink tea in Cantonese) over at the newish yoga school established by the creators of Dim Sum Warriors. This month’s theme? Mooncakes, the dense, sweet Chinese treats eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Theresa Wong of Fang Gourmet Tea paired the cakes with a lovely aged pu-er tea. Afterwards she told me that she’s not really a big fan of mooncakes. So with the moon hanging heavy in the sky and the festival falling this Thursday here’s what I’d like to know. Do you dig mooncakes? Or do you liken them to hockeypucks? And if you do like them what’s your favorite? Mixed nut, Malaysian pandan flavored, the platter sized discus that is Fujianese mooncake,or some other variety? For the record my favorites are the Malaysian ones.