Trader Joes Cha Siu Bao vs. Authentic Cha Siu Bao

My toddler son LOVES the cha siu bao from Trader Joes. It’s his favorite thing to eat in the world. If we go to dim sum, he’ll eat the fresh bao but he doesn’t eat it with the Cha Siu Bao 2 same gusto he eats the frozen ones from TJs.

I admit it. It makes me sad. I want him to prefer the authentic stuff. This is not to say that the Trader Joe’s bao isn’t good – it’s alright in a pinch – but it’s not as good as the ones from a half-way decent Chinese bakery or restaurant.

But I got to thinking how different growing up now is compared to how life was when I was a kid. Let’s take the cha siu bao for example. I couldn’t imagine being able to buy such a thing from a non–Asian market 20 years ago. Now they are selling at a mid-sized market to mostly non-Asians.

The same can be said for sushi, ramen, dim sum, and lots of other Asian dishes.  I remember being a child and being a little embarrassed when my mom packed me a bento box for lunch. I remember wanting just a peanut butter sandwich and chips like my friends (whom it should be noted were mostly Asian/Asian American).

We’ve all heard variations of that story, but I wonder when my son goes to elementary school will it be the same? Will all the kids want to eat the same traditional American lunch? Or will having something “authentic” (aka: ethnic) be not just socially acceptable but cool?

If that’s the case, I already feel bad for my son because his lunch will probably be a sandwich. Now that I think about it, it’s a little ironic.

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (, the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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