Oh no. Again.
At this point, anything Trader Joe's that remotely resembles something I might order at dim sum makes A and I both excited and nervous. Excited because could my beloved TJ's have discovered something moderately game-changing? (That's mostly me) Nervous because too many old favorites have been recklessly changed by TJ's. Gotta lower the bar y'all.
It looks like a smiley face! :D
I steamed these according to package directions. They certainly look legitimate. Of course, since the Cantonese take credit for the cha siu bao, I let A eat 3 of the four buns! Not all at once! I was surprised. A said these were "decent" and that he's definitely had worse tasting frozen aisle cha siu baos. Whaaaat? Isn't that a little too optimistic? A said this cha siu bun actually has flavor, whereas he's had some very bland varieties. He's grading on a curve I suppose, and I'm grading according to the normal cha siu bao scale. The bao (bun) part passes with flying colors, but the cha siu meat lacks the signature barbecue flavor. Instead, it's just soy sauce and sugar. No vinegar, no hoisin sauce, no other notable flavors really. AND it's not even red-ish!
At least I tried it? At least I know that TJ's cha siu baos are edible?
TL;DR: Trader Ming's Cha Siu Bao Chinese Style Pork Buns. It ain't cha siu but you can still eat it I suppose. Meh. No repurchase. 5 out of 10.