For years we’ve ignored the “kanom pia” mooncakes at the 7-11s and mini Big Cs in Sakon Nakhon, thinking they would be disappointing compared to the delicious mooncakes of Chachoengsao province (where the bakers of the best mooncakes in Thailand live). But, that was a mistake. The mooncakes sold at mini Big Cs are made by Tae Seng Heng (แต้เซ่งเฮง), a Samut Prakan bakery that specializes in kanom pia. And while the one we bought today, filled with peas and squash, isn’t at the elite level of a Chachoengsao mooncake, it was still quite good! And only 25 baht plus 1 free!
So what are “kanom pia”? They are Chinese pastries often handed out during auspicious events in Thailand, such as engagements, weddings, or as gifts, including offerings to ancestors. They are a type of Chinese mooncake that has a thinner, flakier crust than the traditional version. Mooncakes are round or square-shaped pastries that have a sweet or savory filling, often made from lotus seed paste, red bean paste, or salted egg yolk. The pastry is usually decorated with intricate patterns and symbols on the top. It is a good luck pastry that conveys good wishes between the receiver and the giver.
The Chinese Mooncake Festival in Thailand, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month (usually in September or October). The festival is celebrated with family gatherings, special meals, and moon-gazing. The full moon is a symbol of reunion and togetherness in Chinese culture, and many people use the festival as an opportunity to spend time with their loved ones. During the festival, lanterns are also lit, and dragon and lion dances are performed.
The best mooncakes in Thailand can be found at Tang Seng Jua (ร้านตั้งเซ่งจั้ว), a popular bakery in the Bang Khla district of Chachoengsao, which has a large Chinese-Thai population. The bakery has been around for over 80 years and has become a favorite destination for locals and tourists looking for high-quality mooncakes.
Tang Seng Jua offers a range of mooncakes with traditional fillings like lotus seed paste, red bean paste, and mixed nuts. They also offer unique flavors like durian, green tea, and black sesame. One of their signature mooncakes is the “double salted egg yolk mooncake,” which features two salted egg yolks in the center of the filling. The bakery (whose kanom pia can be ordered online) is also known for its decorative packaging, which features colorful designs and patterns that make their mooncakes a popular gift during the festival season.
Mooncakes can also be found made at the bakeries of many luxury hotels in Thailand, such as the Four Seasons, the Peninsula Plaza, and the Chakri Palace. Outside of Bangkok, you can find them sold at select bakeries and specialty shops, as well as (of course) mini Big Cs.