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Toronto bakery declare themselves #veryAsian after customer rejections deemed them not ‘normal’

  • LA LA Bakeshop in Toronto taped a sign to their front door on Tuesday that reads, “Hi there! We are a #VeryAsian bakery,” after customers allegedly walked out of the bakery because it wasn’t a “normal” bakery.

  • The staff posted their sign to their Instagram page on Wednesday in solidarity with the hashtag inspired by recent viewer criticism of news anchor Michelle Li as “being very Asian.”

  • Li created the #VeryAsian hashtag after receiving backlash for sharing she enjoyed dumpling soup for New Year's and was told by a viewer who called in to complain that she should “keep her Asianness to herself.”

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LA LA Bakeshop, a Vietnamese bakery in Toronto, is spreading the word that they’re “very Asian” after having people walk out upon realizing they’re not a “normal” bakery. 

Their announcement on Instagram was inspired by the #VeryAsian hashtag started by news anchor Michelle Li.

“Maybe we *should* make it more obvious that we are an #asianbakery. So we posted this sign today,” the post read. “We want to welcome all those who are curious and want to try what we have to offer. We want to PROUDLY SHOUT that we are #veryasian.”

Brian Tran, founder of LA LA Bakery, told blogTO that they found out about the hashtag over the weekend after hearing about the backlash Li received for sharing on-air that she enjoyed dumpling soup for New Year’s.

Responding to Li’s comment, a viewer told her that she was “being very Asian” and advised that she should “keep her Asianness to herself.”

LA LA Bakeshop opened in September last year, and they use traditional Vietnamese ingredients like pork floss, salted egg yolk and durian with a modern approach. The owners taped their announcement to the bakery’s front door on Tuesday.

“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,” Tran said.

He said people walk into the bakery daily expecting Western items, then leave looking “visibly disappointed.” 

“There’s a line we do get from time to time: ‘Sorry, I thought you were a normal bakery.’ This is annoying AF,” Tran said. “Any person of colour knows exactly what ‘normal’ means here.”

He said some people who have never been in an Asian bakery before call their baked goods “weird.”

Since LA LA Bakeshop posted the sign on Instagram, Tran said, “The biggest surprise, and the most disheartening, has been other Asian-owned bakeries in Toronto DMing us saying, ‘This happens to us too.’”

Tran said 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,” Tran said. “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.”

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