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Over the Moon: Your illustrated guide to mooncakes

By Localiiz 8 September 2014 | Last Updated 28 September 2023

Mid-Autumn Festival is almost upon us and mooncake boxes are changing hands faster than a minibus driver changes lanes. As your collection grows, you may be wondering what you were given and whether should you eat it or regift it quickly before the holiday is over. Here to help you sort out the hits from the flops is Lee Xin Li, an architecture student at the National University of Singapore, who created an illustrated guide to mooncakes.

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Having previously created an illustrated series of traditional kueh (Southeast Asian bite-sized “cakes”), Lee thought it was time to take on this project in time for Mid-Autumn Festival. Fuelled by his curiosity to discover more about the various shapes and colours of mooncakes, Lee researched several types, including Cantonese, snow skin, Taiwanese, and many more. While researching for his piece, Lee discovered several interesting mooncake qualities ranging from the different dough used to similarities in style.

“The Hainanese Qiong-style mooncake is a hybrid of Cantonese-style and Suzhou-style mooncakes. Hainanese Qiong-shi mooncakes combine the flaky dough of Suzhou-style mooncakes with the sweet dough of Cantonese-style mooncakes. Qiong (琼) is the abbreviation of Hainan, hence the named Qiong-style mooncakes,” Lee explains. 

Despite the quirky flavours out there, Lee confesses that a traditional Cantonese mooncake wins hands down. “A baked mooncake with egg yolks is my favourite,” Lee says. “I had a friend who gifted me a beautiful box of mooncakes by Maxim’s. It was the first time someone ever gave me a box of mooncakes and I still keep the box with me.” 

Lee hopes his work is a reminder that Mid-Autumn Festival is about more than just mooncakes (except maybe to the foodies!). He stresses that this is an opportunity to get together with friends and family above all. Have a look at more of Lee’s work on his Behance or Facebook pages. And Happy Mid-Autumn Festival from all of us at Localiiz!

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