Moon cake – luxury gift for traditional Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

Published:  03:42 Wednesday - September 07, 2011

Moon cake – luxury gift for traditional Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

For a long time, Moon cakes have been a familiar symbol of Tet Trung Thu in Vietnam, and there is a particularly high demand this year.

Moon cake – luxury gift for traditional Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

For tourists in Vietnam travel on this special occasion, this will be very excited to join Mid-Autumn Festival, especially enjoy a piece of moon cake which cannot be lack of.

Just a few decades ago, moon cakes were only a small part of the festival. Then, they were mostly hand-made with plain ingredients. 'Banh deo', the white cake was made with green beans and lotus seeds. 'Banh nuong', the brown one, was made with meat, melon seeds, sesame, egg yolk, lemon leaves and kumquat peels. Both kinds can be square or round, and have a bright yoke inside to represent the moon.

 

They are often given to children to celebrate the festival.

Nowadays, however, the cakes are becoming more sophisticated. A number of manufacturers add exotic ingredients, such as shark fin, abalone.

A chef from Metropole Hotel Hanoi, which has had some eight years producing moon cakes, said that besides traditional ingredients like green bean, lotus seed or salted egg they are creating new flavours with ingredients like carmel and walnut. They are also making large cakes in the shape of fish and moon. This year the hotel produces some 3,000 boxes of cake against 2,000 boxes last year.

Some new hotels are also following their predecessors like Metropole, Daewoo, Hilton, etc. to take advantage from this festival. Silk Path Hotel on Hang Bong Street has also set up a swanky moon cake stall at the lobby to display their first batch. According to the hotel manager, Cesar M.Castro, they are just making 1,000 boxes for this season. “We hire a good Hanoi chef with over ten years of experiences in making moon cakes to make our first products,” he revealed. “We apply just traditional methods and ingredients into our cakes but invest more on the cover and pack so as to make it a nice piece for people to give one another on this special occasion.”

Newly-established Crowne Plaza Hotel on Le Duc Tho Street has just cooperated with two Chinese chefs to produce their own products for the festival. Their chef Can Hong Huang boasts that he has been working in Vietnam for many years and understands people’s taste very well. So he is confident that their four kinds of 'Banh nuong' with both traditional and new flavours will please customers’ taste.

Still, many people prefer the taste of traditionally-made cakes.

Therefore, some bakeries are still following traditional methods and employing just traditional ingredients into their cakes. Gia Thinh Shop on Hang Duong, Ninh Huong on Hang Dieu or Do The Gia on Dong Tac and Thanh Cong Street are still popular places for those who love the traditional flavours.

A customer at Do The Gia stall says that her family are always fond of the natural flavours and unique taste of traditional cakes. “We cannot take the cakes with new ingredients and strange flavours even though they are said to be precious and expensive,” she expresses. “Therefore traditional cakes are usually the best choice for us to enjoy or give to our friends or relatives who live far away from Hanoi.

People’s loyalty to traditional cakes is attributed to its special taste and the taste comes from the fresh ingredients and complicated process of making. Do Nang Ty, who has had more than 60 years making moon cake and is now owner of Do The Gia, says that Hanoi people are very meticulous in cooking and a 'Banh nuong' must have fat meat, chicken, Chinese sausages, melon seeds, seasame, almond in its content and fresh lemon leaves, young kumquat fruits, and a kind of scented wine called Mai Que Lo to make its flavour.

“And this is why traditional cakes have special and unique flavours that the others aromatized with artificial scent cannot compare,” he explained.

The price for a full moon in Vietnam

In the past, they also used to be quite cheap. The real price of one is around VND30,000-50,000. But these days, they are often considered a luxury gift, and packaged with elaborate boxes, and maybe a bottle of wine.

The "Montes Alpha M" from Daewoo Hanoi Hotel, is priced at VND 6.06 million.

Tips for choosing a moon cake:

- Moon cake manufacturers all have their stalls on many streets in Hanoi. To avoid fake products you should buy here or at big shops or supermarkets but not at small general stores.

- Moon cakes all have very short expiry date, so you should check it before buying.

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Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam - Moon cake -Traditional festivals

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