Clue: It involves tons of food, good company, and an exciting game with prizes to be won!
After the long hiatus brought about by the Chinese Ghost Month, the annual Mid-autumn festival soon follows with the promise of merriment and fun. The date changes depending on the Lunar calendar, but for this year, it was on September 13. And while some choose to celebrate on the day itself, others choose to set the festivities in advance— just like Eng Bee Tin did.
Eng Bee Tin, a Chinese deli based in Ongpin, was a homegrown family business established by Mr. Chua Chiu Hong in the year 1912. They first started out with Chinese delicacies like tikoy, glutinous rice balls, and the classic monggo-filled hopia. While this was enough to make ends meet, they stood no chance against growing competitors. But when Mr. Chua’s son Gerry thought of this amazing idea of creating the first-ever ube-filled hopia, the company skyrocketed into fame. Currently, Eng Bee Tin is known as an innovator for desserts, as they continuously come up with new hopia flavors, different pastries, and more!
Eng Bee Tin now owns multiple branches across the metro, and even has a massive building set in the heart of Binondo— aptly named the Ube Building— as a testament to their success.
Aside from a diverse selection of Eng Bee Tin products on the first floor, the building also houses their own restaurant: the Great Buddha Cafe.
And this was where our celebration began.
The Mid-autumn Festival is a harvest festival that is commonly associated with the moon. Many legends surround this day, but the most common one involves a woman (Chang’e) who stole the elixir of immortality and flew to the moon, where she eventually became the moon goddess. Thus, people commemorated that day by offering sacrifices and worshiping the moon.
In a more modern setting, however, the many Asian cultures celebrate it diffferently, though there are some similar patterns when compared to the Chinese. At Eng Bee Tin, influencers, bloggers, families and friends of the owners got a chance to experience the Chinese way of celebrating this festive occasion in the form of:
1. Having Dinner Together
Since the Mid-Autumn festival represents the reunion of families, people would usually dine at home, or in a restaurant, surrounded by good company. In this case, we were all treated to the delicious food from The Great Buddha Cafe. It was a buffet-style setup with Chinese favorites like Yang Chow Fried Rice, Soy Chicken and Stir-fried Noddles, just to name a few.
My favorites include the Pork Ribs that came with a sticky sweet honey glaze, the noodles and the Hong Kong style Milk Tea.
2. The Dice Game!
The much-anticipated event of the night, the dice game is a competitive game that everyone (even children) can participate in. It is a fairly straightforward game that relies heavily on luck. All you need to do is throw 6 pieces of dice in a bowl without letting any of them fall out.
While the combination of numbers corresponds to a price, the objective is to get as much 4’s as possible in order to get the grand prize. And not to worry! Even one 4 is enough to give you a prize!
Speaking of prizes, the traditional kind comes in the form of hopia, though others use money, food, household items or even stationery materials. True to what is traditional and familiar, Eng Bee Tin opted to use varying sizes of hopia— their very own classic monggo hopia— as prizes for that night.
3. Giving Mooncake as Gifts
While Chinese New Year is a time for giving tikoy to represent a close bond (because sticky, get it?), the Mid-autumn festival is a time for giving mooncakes, since the round shape of the cake symbolizes completeness. Eating it signifies unity among families and friends, or simply people close to you.
To foster a lasting bond with each and every one of us, Eng Bee Tin capped off the evening by sending us our very own mooncakes, courtesy of their shop.
And while I expected the traditional lotus filling, Eng Bee Tin once again surprised me with a more modern and unique approach: a Choco Banana filling for one, and an Ube (with egg!) filling for the other.
And now, the final way to celebrate a Mid-autumn festival…
4. Eating the Mooncake!
And you bet it was fun. I thoroughly enjoyed Eng Bee Tin’s mooncakes, leaning more towards the former because it had gooey chocolate that reminded me of a lava cake.
Overall, this kind of celebration is something I’m familiar with, since I do it every year with my family. But the Eng Bee Tin version was truly a great experience— one that I would love to relive in the coming years.
Thank you for having me!