Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋節快樂!
Today is the 15th of the 8th month of the lunar calendar, which means the moon is exceptionally full and bright tonight and that it’s time to eat all the mooncakes. Mooncakes come in a variety of flavours and sizes, but my favourites are the traditional Cantonese lotus paste filled ones with (double) duck yolk or the bit more modern molten lava egg custard ones (particularly the ones from the Peninsula if you’re lucky enough to get gifted them!).
Not sure if it’s because of the influx of HongKongers moving to the UK lately, or if local (Chinese) restaurants and brands are more keen to promote this festive dessert, but there seems to be a lot more mooncakes for sale in London this year. It’s especially heartwarming to see small businesses making their own and selling out.
Here’s 8 places you can buy mooncakes:
1. Too Much Sugar
Too Much Sugar was founded in 2020 by chef Winnie Yim, with the purpose of creating and sharing their love of Asian desserts in London. While their name suggests too much sweetness, their desserts are actually not too sweet - the epitome of Asian praise when it comes to desserts! This year they made four flavours of mooncakes: molten salted egg yolk, matcha and red bean filling, taro and ube, and lastly coconut and sesame lotus paste. I can attest to them being incredibly delish.
Their mooncakes are now sold out, but they also make an assortment of sweets year round, so be sure to check them out at markets, order bespoke celebration cakes online, and follow their Instagram for updates.
2. Ong Ong Buns
We’re big fans of Ong Ong Buns and admirers of founder Aaron Mo’s resilience and hustle. They’re a Hong Kong-Malay bakery that make moreish buns and other Asian inspired baked goods. You can find them at Seven Dials Market in Covent Garden most days. This year they ventured out to make a set of mooncakes, some traditional, some with a twist. Their flavours include: lotus paste with yolk, taro (with or without yolk), coconut and peanut butter (with or without yolk) (!!), and a red bean filling with a coconut and custard centre.
Giving Leytonstone a dose of Hong Kong culture and cuisine is Aquila. Aquila opened their doors earlier this year, and one step inside and it’s like a small piece of home. They’re a fully operating restaurant serving comfort dishes like baked pork chop rice and ho fun, and they also sell classic Cantonese buns and pastries. As for mooncakes, for this year they’ve got traditional lotus paste with egg yolk filling. Yum.
4. Royal China
The iconic Chinese restaurant group Royal China Club is based in London (and Dubai!?) and has several branches, but my fave for yum cha has got to be the restaurant on Baker Street. It’s a bit more fancy, but the dim sum is worth it and I still think about those Har Gow (shrimp dumpling) from time to time. For Mid-Autumn Festival they created a seasonal set of purple yam lava mooncakes that come with tea cups and two types of tea leaves. Did I mention they’re fancy?
Does Yauatcha even need an introduction? This contemporary Chinese restaurant specialising in dim sum and patisserie is the child of restaurateur Alan Yau (see Hakkasan, Wagamama, etc). Since living in London I’ve ordered their baked custard mooncakes on several occasions, and boy is the packaging lovely. This year I noticed they have a kaya snow skin mooncake, which is definitely not traditional but a delightful twist to the classic. Snow skin mooncakes aren’t my fave, but their mochi texture and chilled temperature is a fave among many. Give it a go!
6. Bun House / Wu’s Tea Room
We love a good vibe, and Wu’s Tea Room has plenty of 60s Hong Kong nostalgia vibes. Great for IG photos. To be honest, I still never made it down to their Soho location to try their food, but I’m super impressed by their growth and expansion - they’ve rebranded and got Bun House in Chinatown. Their mooncake set also looks super impressive and a bit on the bougie side: a handwoven box full of mooncakes with fillings including sweet lotus, sweet bean, seasonal chestnut cream, of course egg custard.
7. Shanghai Supper Club
Shanghai Supper Club is based in London run by Lillian Luk, who focuses on cooking and celebrating Shanghainese regional cuisine. Most mooncakes we see and buy are sweet so I’m so glad to see representation of savoury mooncakes this season from them! These mooncakes are filled with ground pork and a good alternative to all the sweetness during this festive time. They also make red bean mooncakes, so there’s something for everyone. Definitely going to keep my eye out for future dining experiences they host!
8. Online Asian Supermarkets
Shout out to online shops making me not having to deal with crowds of people fighting for mooncakes. Special mention to Wa Na Hong for stocking these mooncakes with designs by Hong Kong artist Ah To aka @ah_to_hk on Instagram. Starry Mart also has a selection of mooncakes from traditional to snow skin available that you’ll want to add to cart. Also, most of the mooncakes online are already on sale, so if you’re not fussed about eating them after Mid-Autumn Festival, then you know where to buy them.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list and you can always head to your local Asian grocery or Chinatown for the OG mooncakes in those tin boxes that your grandma saves to put random sewing tools in. Enjoy mooncake day!