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Mooncakes in Chinatown: A Mid-Autumn Festival Extravaganza

The bustling streets of Chinatown near downtown Los Angeles harbor more than just exotic ingredients and fragrant spices; they tell tales of a rich culture and tradition, deeply embedded in every corner and brick. I found myself walking these streets with the aroma of freshly brewed espresso from “Thank You Coffee” lingering in my nostrils, a place where caffeine jolts not just the body but the soul.

As I slowly sipped my espresso, I was serendipitously privy to the buzz about the Mid-Autumn Festival, which unfolds tomorrow, on September 29, 2023. For those not in the know, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a luminescent celebration that honors the full moon, symbolizing unity and prosperity. Mooncakes, these thick, round delicacies, are a pivotal part of the festivity. Their dense filling, not overwhelmingly sweet but profoundly rich, is enveloped in a thin, soft crust, often with Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony” embossed on top. An egg yolk sits in the center, representing the full moon.

So, like a child suddenly curious, I embarked on a moonlit journey to sample mooncakes from various bakeries.

At Phoenix Bakery, their red bean 1 yolk mooncake captivated the palate. Delightfully decadent, it seemed to encapsulate the very essence of tradition. A tad greasy to touch, yet each bite was an orchestration of classic flavors. Rating: 4/5 forks.

Wonder Bakery beckoned next. Their mixed nut mooncake felt like a masterpiece, each nut adding its own note. Elegant, the mold pattern told tales of celebrations past and present. The mini lotus seed mooncake was nothing short of a revelation. Each bite was a swirl of mystery, teasing with hints of nutmeg, honey, perhaps a touch of cardamom. Size does matter, for this little treat packed the most profound punch. Rating: 4/5 forks.

At Kim Hung Bakery, the Taro 1 yolk mooncake was a buttery marvel with its flaky exterior. A touch messy, but worth every crumb. Rating: 4/5 forks.

Queens Bakery offered an experience even before the first bite. The white lotus 2 yolk mooncake was ensconced in a beautiful box, evoking the festive spirit. Cutting through it revealed the yolks, radiant like the full moon itself. A buttery indulgence, it was like biting into a piece of tradition. Rating: 4/5 forks.

If I were to crown a winner, it would be the mini lotus seed mooncake from Wonder Bakery (my plan is to buy a dozen next time). But every bite, from every bakery, echoed the stories of Mid-Autumn Festivals past and the promise of many more to come.

Mooncakes aren’t an everyday indulgence. Their richness makes them apt for special occasions, like the Mid-Autumn Festival and Lunar New Year. But in the spirit of celebration, why not venture into Chinatown and immerse yourself in this delectable tradition? Celebrate unity, prosperity, and the beautiful moonlit nights that bring us all together. 🌕🥮🎉

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