During 1860s, Saigon people come to China Town (Cholon) on Tran Hung Dao street to buy delicious traditional moon cakes at every mid-autumn moon festival. Mooncake is considered symbol of blessing and reunion. Mooncake was born in China. Various legends about the origin of mooncake have been circulating in China throughout the years. At first the cake was called walnut cake because the main ingredient is walnut. At a mid-autumn festival King Duong Huyen Tong enjoyed walnut cake with his wife Yang Guifei under the clear and vast tropical sky and cool wind. He looked at the beautiful bright clear moonlight and renamed the cake as mooncake.
Saigon mooncake in the past
Before 1945, China Town (Cholon) is a crowded and busy commercial center in Saigon. Around this area had grown up many cafes, restaurants and stores. People came here for foods, drinks and having fun. At mid-autumn full moon festival, baked mooncakes and sticky rice mooncakes were made by hand and sold in a few stores in Cholon. Until 1850s, mooncake stores had appeared but only in Cholon area. Since 1860s, this cake has become more and more popular in Saigon. People in South and Central Vietnam has started loving to eat this sweet cake. Dong Khanh, Long Xuong, Tan Tan, Dai Chung, Dong Hung Vien…were famous mooncake brands those days.
Dong Hung Vien mooncake store in the past
Before the festival one month, ingredients (first class sticky rice and mung beans, dried cereal seeds…). Mooncake can be divided into two categories: baked mooncake and sticky rice mooncake.
Mooncake before being baked
Round and square baked mooncake
Baked mooncake with five kernal filling
Sticky rice mooncake
Sticky rice mooncake is spectacular from its white, tender and smooth crust, its shape of eight or ten petals flower and slightly sweet taste.
Glutinous rice is toasted and ground into flour for coating. The flour is mixed with syrup (sugar and water boiled) and few drops of essential oil of grapefruit flowers, the dough is ready.
Many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region’s culture. The traditional filling is made from lotus seed paste and salted duck egg. Five kernel fillings consists of jam from lotus seeds, pumpkin seeds, water melon seeds, toasted sesame, almonds, peanut and mung or black bean paste, taro paste… Salted duck eggs, Chinese sausage, roast chicken… can be added into the fillings to make savory cake. Expensive bird nests, shark fin are also used to make luxurious mooncakes.
Simple mooncake with lotus seed paste and salted duck egg
Baked mooncake is baked until the crust turns brown-yellow. The fillings are the same as of the sticky rice mooncake.
Saigon mooncake in recent days
For many years, Vietnamese people have learnt from Chinese how to make mooncake and created new mooncake recipes. More and more Vietnamese brands of mooncake appeared and become more popular.
Nowadays, in eighth month on lunar calendar, Saigon streets are full of mooncake stores with various types of mooncakes. It’s easy to buy this cake from traditional to modern, from medium to high class mooncake.
Mooncake booth in the pavement of Saigon
2 months before Full moon festival, Tran Hung Dao, Nguyen Tri Phuong and other streets in Saigon have become a paradise of mooncakes. On pavements a vast array of colorful booths have grown up. On Nguyen Tri Phuong street, there were over 40 mooncake booths on a segment of 500 meters. At the beginning of the season, various types of mooncakes are arranged in glass-cases and in pavements.
Some popular brands of mooncakes in Saigon are Kinh Do, Dong Khanh, Nhu Lan, Bibica… Luxury brands of mooncakes include Girval, Brodard and Kinh Do.
Expensive mooncakes in elegant boxe for rich customers
If you have chance to visit our city at full moon festival, let enjoy a Saigon mooncake with tea. It’s worth a try. Are you excited to drive around Saigon to see many arrays of mooncake booths on the street? Scooter Saigon Tour is pleased to enjoy the city the right way. Click here to learn more about our Saigon motorbike tour.
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