Article by XIANEASE
Many foreigners treat Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes like they would fruitcakes at Christmas: dense, less-than-palatable and to be graciously accepted before re-gifting them. But if you’re interested in giving this traditional food another try (or a first try!), definitely seek out one of these interesting, more delectable variations.
YU PIN XUAN
If you want a quick and easy and palatable mooncake just so you might join in the seasonal festivities, bakery chain Yu Pin Xuan (御品轩) is the place for you. They make flaky, dense mooncakes in many flavors, including blueberry and chocolate. With all of their locations it’s very convenient to just drop in and grab one—and just as convenient to order a bunch delivered to your office since you forgot to buy some for your coworkers, you monster.
Address: 1F Xin Hui Building, #33 Gaoxin Road
Direct from Hong Kong, Mei-Xin is the biggest name in mooncakery. Really, they’re a big deal. They’ve been the top seller of mooncakes for 20 years, and even have press junkets with celebrity guests. Their original recipe is the traditional one, white lotus seed paste with egg yolks, but more recently they’ve expanded their product line to “lava custard” mooncakes and “snowy” mooncakes (the latter of which is unfortunately only available in Hong Kong).
Available online at JD.com or offline at Hema Supermarkets
RENYI ROAD HANDMADE MOONCAKES
If you’d like your mooncakes to be a little more local, there’s nothing more local than the handmade mooncakes made and sold on the street at Renyi Road. The Ma Brothers, from Shande in northern Shaanxi, come down to Xi’an every year for one month to sell their lovingly prepared mooncakes, the recipe for which has been passed down for generations. This ten-year-old tradition has become very famous in Xi’an, so be prepared to wait—but you won’t regret doing so.
Address: Renyi Road (仁义路)
FRESH MEAT MOONCAKE
Known as “Su-style” mooncakes, this specialty snack from southeast China throws out the egg yolks and fills each cake with fresh meat and crayfish. The result is a crispy, flaky pastry filled with flavorful meat and gravy. Locally, the best are made by Chef Xie Liang, who says that each of his mooncakes has three crayfishes’ worth of meat in them to ensure each bite is spicy, savory and delicious.
Address: 1F Gaoxin Da Du Hui, #305 Keji Road
If all else fails, the five-star hotels in the city all offer mooncake packages, and are surprisingly affordable. No matter how much you spend on them, a box of mooncakes from one of these hotels will be premium, beautiful and will taste as good as they look. They’re also great places to stock up if you plan on giving many to family, friends and colleagues.
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