A culinary tradition with legendary roots, mooncakes have quite the story. Some say that they became popular during the Yuan dynasty when Mongols had overtaken China. The barbarian Mongolians were purported not to like the taste of mooncakes, so bakers hid secret messages inside the round delicacies, instructing the Chinese to overthrow the barbarians after the August moon.
In modern times, mooncakes are often given as gifts to family members and business associates. Traditionally, the thin crust surrounds a rich filling, which can range from salted eggs (to represent the moon) to the sweeter lotus or bean paste. As the custom is brought into the 21st century, the variations on the filling have multiplied as international companies have gotten in on the action. Starbucks released green tea flavours last year, and Haagen Daz served ice cream options.
While you can find mooncakes stuffed with real gold – or even a diamond ring – here’s some of the best places in Shanghai to pick up your commemorative box.
Hilton Shanghai Hongqiao has eight varieties on offer, from the traditional egg yolk and lotus paste to a funky gold seaweed paste. The best part? Their commemorative box turns into a neat wine carrying case.
1116 Hongsong Dong Lu. Tel: 3323 6666 x 51310
The Fairmont Peace Hotel is capitalising on their property’s heritage with their three hampers of mooncakes. The green tea and oolong tea is inspired by their Jasmine Lounge, while the raspberry and Pinot noir option is as timeless as their architecture.
20 Nanjing Dong Lu. Tel: 6138 6887. Email: email@example.com
The Kerry Hotel is going haute cuisine on their mooncakes. There’s foie gras, bacon with truffles, imperial abalone and more – plus a low sugar version of the lotus paste and egg yolk classic. Their Reunion Hamper also comes stocked with nuts, chocolate and wine!
Kerry Center: 3F, 1515 Nanjing Xi Lu. Kerry Hotel: 1388 Huamu Lu. Tel: 6169 8886. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org