73rd Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Chinatown Los Angeles. Saturday, September 17th, 5PM to Midnight. Eddie Lin to MC Cooking Demos: 530PM - 10PM.

Mmmmoon cakes.

Feeling a little loony lately? Well, it's not your fault. Lunatic is derived from the Latin word luna for moon, and September happens to be the moon's time of year with the Harvest Moon (which transpired recently) and the Chinese Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Moon Festival going on this Saturday night in Los Angeles' Chinatown. So, you have every right to be a little insane in the membrane!

I'm happy to announce that I'll be reprising my role as emcee for the cooking demos for this year's festival as well.

The 73rd Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival will be held this Saturday, September 17, 2011 from 5PM to Midnight with the Cooking Demos going on from 530PM to 10PM. Hope to see you there!!

Chinatown LA
Central Plaza & West Plaza
943-951 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Cooking Demos, Moon Cake Making & Moon Cake Sampling:
530PM to 10PM

(The following is a rebroadcast of my visit last year to Phoenix Bakery during the peak of the moon cake season.)

Originally posted on 09/22/2010.

There was a time when many of the things we ate were made by hand. Actual flesh and muscle stretched over bones bound with skin pressing, pulling and squeezing ingredients to form something delicious. Good things that were handcrafted instead of mass produced by a mechanized army of robot cooks.


The Chinese mooncake, eaten and gifted in massive amounts during the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival, has also fallen to victim to the culinary industrial complex. What was a strictly artisanal product is now just another large-scale manufactured product like Pop-Tarts.


But not all have kowtowed to the beast of progress. At the Phoenix Bakery in LA's Chinatown, the Chan clan has been making mooncakes by hand for over 30 years. One generation passing this sweet skill off to the next.


A cherry wood mooncake mold, brought over from China decades ago and hand carved by seasoned craftsmen employing ancient Chinese techniques, has seen better days. Deep, dark grooves and mutilated edges tell of the many hammerings it has endured in the name of making a good mooncake, actually, hundreds of thousands of good mooncakes.


Dozens of clay-like lotus paste spheres encasing salted duck egg yolks sit waiting on a baking tray, looking much like a clique of caramel apples sans sticks. These will become one of the most popular type of mooncakes — the lotus with single yolk.


That particular flavor is for the traditionalist. Those who want a little something different can order the fruit nut, a double yolk, even a six-yolker.


Like a mini fruitcake in appearance, the fruit nut mooncake is dense and meaty with actual meat — a Virginia ham — as well as 7 different seeds and dried fruit. I can't stomach traditional fruitcake but this fruit nut mooncake is the best of the mooncakes at Phoenix. It was delicious, both sweet and savory.


Making mooncakes by hand is a great skill to witness. Lucky you, I got a video to share. And, of course, it's in bad ass HD! (Scroll down and click play.)

Phoenix Bakery Inc.
L.A. Chinatown
969 North Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Phoenix Bakery website

Making Mooncakes from Ed Lin on Vimeo.