Cha Siu Bao are steamed pork buns. Soft, fluffy steamed buns filled with Chinese BBQ pork or char siu. Cha Siu Bao (also spelled as Char Siu Bao or Char Siew Bao) is one of the best known dishes in dim sum restaurants around the world. I have been lucky enough to eat that at such top notch Dim Sum restaurants as Din Tai Fung, of which there are a few here in the Seattle area. The Seattle area has a lot of Dim Sum type restaurants and we have great Chinese grocery stores around here I can find these fresh and frozen. So, that is the standard I am comparing against.
Trader Joe’s has been carrying these pork buns for well over a decade. But for whatever reason, I have been blowing past them for years. Every so often I have to walk into Trader Joe’s frozen section with a new mindset because I miss these products all the time and in this case for far too long.
What you get in the package is four frozen Chinese Pork Buns at 160 calories each. There is no sauce or anything to put on top. Just the pork buns. There are two methods for cooking these. The traditional method of steaming them or microwaving them. Seeing this is the 2020s, I opted for the microwave method because I couldn’t wait the extra 20 minutes to get all the equipment out and boil some water. I think the flavor difference would be minimal between the different preparation methods. But you do whatever you want!
I did as they suggested, I got a paper towel and ran it under some water and squeezed out most of the water and put the paper towel over all four Pork Bao on a microwave safe plate. I ran it for 1 minute. They weren’t quite hot enough, so I ran it for another 30 seconds. One bun might take 45 seconds but all four will take almost two minutes.
The Trader Joe’s Cha Siu Bao pork buns came out of the microwave steaming hot and ready to eat. I cut one in half for the photography and let it cool for a minute.
The bite was a pillowy soft exterior with a rush of pork barbeque flavors. I quite liked it. They were very easy to eat but unfortunately, a whole package of these is 640 calories so it’s a whole meal. Not very nutritious by itself, but very satisfying and filling.
Hey, if you are really hankering for some Bao and Trader Joe’s is the only place around, I would pick these up. I also think they would make excellent food for little kids. Nothing fancy here. Just bun and meat.
As to how they compare to someplace like Din Tai Fung, there is no comparison. The ones at Din Tai Fung are better. But I wouldn’t say that they are so much better. Remember we are talking about dough and meat. That’s it. It’s hard to mess it up.
At the end of the day, I will give these a 7 Bells rating. Not bad but not great!
MICROWAVE: Remove the product from the bag. Place on a microwavable dish, and cover with a damp paper towel.
Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds. Remove carefully as the product and towel will be very hot.
STOVE TOP (STEAMED): Boil water in a pot. Remove the product from plastic. Place the steamer
pan on top of the boiling pot. Place product inside steamer pan and cover. Steam for approximately 6-8 minutes.
Pork filling: pork, water, sugar, wheat starch, soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), oyster flavor sauce (water, sugar, salt, oyster extractives [oyster, water, salt], modified cornstarch, caramel color), enriched wheat flour ( Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), malted barley flour, black pepper, sesame seed paste, caramel color, garlic, paprika powder, Tumeric powder. Dough: enriched wheat flour (malted barley flour, Niacin, Iron, ascorbic acid, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), water, sugar, nonhydrogenated palm shortening (palm fruit oil), baking powder, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, monocalcium phosphate, yeast