Chinese bakeries are puzzling. There’s so much good stuff there, but it’s all a tad bewildering unless you know someone who knows their way around the place. “Cocktail bun?” you ask yourself, scratching your head. “What’s in that?”
I was lucky enough to have had someone show me around a Chinese bakery when I was a teen, which is when I picked up an unfortunate appreciation for wiener buns (a.k.a. sausage buns). They’re sort of like a sweet hot dog bun with the hot dog cooked right into the bun. It’s hard to explain, but if you’re looking to introduce your kids to something foreign yet familiar, a Saturday trip to the Chinese market for wiener buns is a pretty decent idea.
The Pitch: “Specialty bun,” says the plastic bag. Very mysterious. The only clue as to what’s inside is the little shelf tag that says something like “Wiener Bun. $1.39.” I used to call them hot dog buns, but that’s confusing for obvious reasons. There’s no ingredients list, no description, no way to know what you’re in for. If you’re new to them, it’s a $1.39 shot in the dark.
The Look: Like a bun crossed with a sausage roll. Golden on top with a shiny, sticky glaze. Little ends of wiener are visible on either end of the bun. Not all wiener buns have sausage visible, but this tends to be the case, as it makes identifying the buns easier with a quick visual inspection. If you don’t know why this is important, try navigating the rows and rows of trays of different buns with different fillings on offer at your local Chinese bakery.
The Taste: Brushed with a sweet coating that’s some sort of honey/sugary glaze, the sweetness is the first thing you taste. From there, the soft, chewy texture of the bun, with its doughy sweetness. After that, it’s right into the rubbery wiener – a salty, savoury, meaty core. The bread is sweet and aromatic. It’s delicious.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: $1.39 at the T & T Supermarket in northeast Calgary.
Value for cash money: Very good.
Availability: T & T is an easy source, but similar buns are available at other Chinese bakeries. In Edmonton, there are a couple of shops that bake them fresh in Chinatown.
Nutrition?: Absolutely no idea. None of that info is on the wrapper.
The verdict: They’re very yummy, and they’re portable enough for a lunch bag. Consider this your gateway drug to the wonderful world of Chinese bakeries. Oh, and cocktail buns are filled with coconut. Now you know.