A Toronto bakery is spreading the word that they’re very Asian after having people walk out after realizing they’re not a “normal” bakery, inspired by the #VeryAsian hashtag started by a news anchor.
“We found out about the #VeryAsian hashtag over the weekend, which was started after Korean-American news anchor Michelle Li got backlash for sharing that she enjoyed dumpling soup for New Year’s and was told she should keep her Asianness to herself,” Brian Tran of LA LA Bakeshop tells blogTO.
By the following Tuesday, the bakery had posted a sign in their window saying “Hi there! We are a #VeryAsian bakery.”
LA LA Bakeshop is a modern Vietnamese bakery that exploded onto the scene in September, using traditional ingredients like pork floss, salted egg yolk and durian in new fascinating ways to rave reviews.
“We’re proud to use ingredients beloved by people around the world, as well as our customers here in Toronto,” reads the sign, which also provides context about the #VeryAsian hashtag and anchor Michelle Li.
“It says two things: come on in, you’re welcome here. And, if you’re weirded out by ‘Asianness’ we don’t want to waste your time,” says Tran.
He says people walk in on a daily basis thinking the bakery sells more typical Western items, then leave looking visibly disappointed, which can be awkward because of the small size of the shop.
“There’s a line we do get from time to time: ‘Sorry, I thought you were a normal bakery.’ This is annoying AF,” says Tran. “Any person of colour knows exactly what ‘normal’ means here.”
The thing is, the ingredients at LA LA Bakeshop are normal to Tran and many others who grew up eating sticky rice and seaweed.
He figures it’s possible some people stumble in who have never been in an Asian bakery before, and has never had anyone of Asian heritage call their baked goods “weird.”
“The biggest surprise, and the most disheartening, has been other Asian-owned bakeries in Toronto DMing us saying, ‘This happens to us too,'” says Tran.
Fortunately they’ve not only received messages of solidarity from Asian bakeries who have experienced the same thing, but also an outpouring of online support.
They’re planning on keeping the sign up “until it starts to fall apart.”
“Since we’ve opened we’ve discovered there’s a real community here, it’s a beautiful thing,” says Tran.
“We want young Asian folks especially to see that we’re here, we’re doing exactly what we love to do, and we don’t need to hide or apologize. It’s 2022.”