Five years ago, Hong Kong MX launched the lava custard mooncake, where hardened salted duck eggs are replaced with oozing sweet, salted egg filling.
Food & Drink Features

So popular it's peddled in the black market, HK's bestselling mooncake is now in Manila

Brought to our shores by the same group that introduced us to the deadly spicy instant noodles, Hong Kong MX mooncake made its way to Manila by way of a mother-in-law’s pasalubong. Easily sold out during the mid-autumn festival, opportunistic fellows would sell it underground for thrice its price and get away with it.
Bam V. Abellon | Aug 29 2019

Five years ago, Marjorie Fong was not a fan of mooncake. At the time, her mother-in-law went to Hong Kong during the mooncake festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival, which happens every 15th day of the 8th lunar month. The festival, mostly held in China and other East Asian countries, celebrates good harvest during the autumn full moon with festivities and moon worship. 

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Today, the festival has evolved simply into a time for family reunions, catching up with friends, and practicing traditions, the most popular of which is the partaking of mooncake. A round pastry that pays tribute to the moon, the mooncake’s shape is a symbol completeness and unity. These days, instead of making the mooncakes at home, the tradition is to give the pastries to family and friends to wish them good fortune and solidarity.

The brand is so popular that during the mid-autumn festival, their stocks gets sold out fast.

Five years ago, Marjorie’s mother-in-law gifted her a box of Hong Kong MX mooncake, and she was enamored at first bite. The taste piqued her interest in the brand. But, she left it at that, until 2017 gave her a venue to realize a lingering idea.

In 2017, Marjorie and five of her friends created CoreCrate International, a distribution company that was born out of their pure and utter love for food—and entrepreneurial proclivities. Marjorie serves as the company’s operations manager.

Remember the deadly spicy instant ramen that started a massive online challenge? The brand was created by South Korean food manufacturer Samyang Food. And it was CoreCrate that brought the brand to the Philippines. They also introduced to Filipinos Famous House drinks from Taiwan, and Doll Instant Noodles from Hong Kong among others.

Jacquelyn Tan, marketing manager of CoreCreate, tells us that the success of Doll Instant Noodles probably made it easier for them to convince Hong Kong MX of their brand’s viability.

 

Selling like hot cakes

While CoreCrate International has been in the market for only two years, Hong Kong MX mooncakes have been keeping up with the rising demands for their much-raved-about products for 32 years.

In 1987, Hong Kong MX first released their original—and still the bestselling variant—white lotus seed paste with two egg yolks. The sweet creamy lotus seed paste, wrapped in thin, soft crust, are juxtaposed with the sharpness of its core: the salted duck eggs. The filling delicacy was originally created for just the family members of the bakers. However, when the family decided to share their mooncakes with their friends, they got more than enough praises, that they decided to sell their product.

Years have gone by since the serendipitous moment, and the company has created more than 10 variants under their name. In 2014, the Hong Kong MX launched their first-ever lava custard mooncake, where hardened salted duck eggs are replaced with oozing sweet, salted egg filling.

Their product line includes the Lotus Seed Paste Mooncake with 2 Yolks and its variants, as well as assorted flavors like the mixed nuts series, and egg roll series.

The success of their products gained Hong Kong MX a gold label award from the Monde Selection, an annual, non-competitive award that has been given to food products, spirits and liquors, cosmetics since 1961. During mooncake festival, hundreds of people line up outside the stores in Hong Kong. In fact, the products are so easily sold out that they are being peddled in black markets for twice or thrice the price.

Many of those who line up, according to Tan, are Filipinos who buy in bulk to bring as pasalubong or gifts to their friends and family back in the Philippines.

Tan tells us that, initially, Hong Kong MX wasn’t quite confident yet in the Philippine market. "Now, we’re trying to justify that the Philippines is already open to Asian brands. Plus, there are a lot of Filipino-Chinese communities in the Philippines, who really celebrate the mooncake festival,” she says.

Now, five years after Marjorie got a taste of the mooncake that changed her mind, she and her friends are bringing Hong Kong MX mooncakes to the Philippines. It’s a personal venture for Marjorie, but she hopes to share her love for this bakery product with Filipinos, who are already a sucker for traditions—and sweets, and salted egg.

 

Hong Kong MX mooncakes are available at the SM Mall of Asia, Pasay, from August 20 to September 22; at the UniMart Capitol Commons, Pasig, from September 1 to September 22; and at Lazada from August 17 to September 22.