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LÀ LÁ Bakeshop is a modern Vietnamese bakery in downtown Toronto, steps from Spadina subway station. The innovative flavours and Vietnamese twists on bakery staples are inspired by the five friends and founders’ memories of Southeast Asia.
What started out as a fledgling online business in 2020 has turned into a physical location in the bustling Annex neighbourhood, serving up unique desserts that echo the culture and flavours of the quintet’s Vietnamese culture.
The tiny, white bakeshop with butter yellow branding has adorable curb appeal, delighting passersby who come in only to be met with a myriad of sweet and savoury bakeshop bites and friendly service behind the counter. Patrons can choose delicious eats like the bánh mì, a classic Vietnamese sandwich featuring black pepper and garlic pork sausage slices, housemade pickles, cucumber and pâté that swaps the baguette or bao bun for a buttery croissant.
On the sweeter side of things are various cakes, made full-sized or mini, depending on your occasion. Flavours are super unique, like salted egg or durian, an edible fruit native to Indonesia's Borneo and Sumatra areas. The fruit resembles the spiky exterior of jackfruit and is described as having a strange flavour that is savoury, sweet and creamy all at the same time, creating a cake that is airy, sweet and uniquely fruity. If fruit-forward isn't your thing, you can opt for the salted egg flavour, a wildly popular cake in Vietnam that's sweet, savoury and ultra-moist, ringed with pork floss and topped with generous amounts of salted egg crumble.
All cakes are made with a Castella cake base, a Japanese sponge cake made with bread flour, sugar, honey and eggs that create a super soft, jiggly and mildly sweet cake. These creations, perfect for a birthday celebration or just a mid-week indulgence, are expertly decorated with ornate florals and dainty ribbons that make them almost too pretty to eat.
If you're looking for a caffeine boost, they offer roasted milk teas in hot or iced or the classic Vietnamese iced coffee, gently sweetened with imported condensed milk -- the same stuff they use in cafes across Vietnam.
Beyond its beautiful and creative menu items, LÀ LÁ Bakeshop is making waves as a progressive, proudly Asian small business after taping a sign to their shop window last week 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 Seattle-based NBC news anchor Michelle Li who was recently criticized as “being very Asian.”
You can swing by their 346A Bloor Street West spot Monday to Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. or preorder for pickup or delivery on their website.