I do not exactly remember the first time I ate Jo-Ann’s Bakeshop’s mini-siopao.
What I do remember however is that my Dad used to buy them by 10s or 20s depending on how many workers he has at that time in his tailoring shop. I usually get to pick my share first because I was always tasked to buy them at their outlet along what was then Albert Morrow Boulevard (now Pedro Acharon, Sr. Boulevard). Sometimes though, I couldn’t resist the urge to steal an extra piece while holding the big paper bag full of the steaming siopao in my lap on my way home on board a rickety tricycle.
Jo-Ann’s Bakeshop, established by the Kho Family sometime in the 60s, used to sell mostly breads, and was a supplier to smaller stores of regular pinoy pastries and cookies like patatas, palu, ugoy-ugoy, sampalok, ring crackers, tostado, luningning, hopia and biscocho, among other bread varieties. [quote1] Their creambread became so famous that it soon was a familiar staple at any home in the old Dadiangas especially during the Christmas season when people had to line up infront of their store just to be able to buy some. The Jo-Ann Bakeshop creambread was the hottest yuletide food item for so many years among families in the city and nearby municipalities.
Then, they introduced the classy and yet affordable “chiffon cake” which also became an instant hit. At that time, cakes were considered as snacks for the rich but Jo-Ann’s made it pang-masa thru their chiffon.
Nothing comes close however to achieving iconic status than their mini-siopao.
Siopao which means Hot or Steamed Bun in Chinese, have always been sized almost as big as a platter as served in the local Chinese restaurants here before (Calpin’s, Capitol’s, Talion’s, Satea, Matutum, etc.), so when Jo-Ann’s came out with their own smaller size, a lot of people were shocked.
Their shock did not last long however.
Athough as small as s regular-sized fist, there was nothing small however in the taste of Jo-Ann’s mini-siopao. Its fillings which come in two variants, pork and chicken asado have got to be the tastiest, chewiest and meatiest in this part of the island.
The dough does not disappoint too. Soft but not too fluffy, it had the right thickness enveloping its tender meat.
Many also swear by its thick siopao sauce, neatly packed in small ice-candy wrappers, which when poured into the fillings, makes it even more flavorful and slightly sweeter.
And so from the 60s and up to the 90s until today, Jo-Ann’s Bakeshop’s mini-siopao‘s fame has continued and until now, is still top in the list of the general’s “comfort food”.
But hey, there’s more. Did you know that Jo’Ann’s mini-siopao has also evolved and now includes a bigger variety?
For those who can’t get enough of the small ones, comes Jo-Ann’s Big Siopao, conveniently packed in cellophane wrappers.
Yes, that’s the one up there in the picture beside its original small-sized brothers. While the mini-siopao is priced at P16 (for pork pao) and P18 (for chicken pao), the big one comes at P26 (pork) and P28 (chicken). Both sizes however have still retained the same tasty quality that made it famous for over four decades now.
And so for those who want to bring home pasalubong from GenSan, remember not only to take value-added tuna products with you but also to include the Tuna Capital’s famous comfort food – Jo-Ann’s Bakeshop siopaos, in original mini or the new big size.
Jo-Ann’s Bakeshop Restaurant and Fastfood Center, P. Acharon Boulevard, may be reached through these #s – 552-2312/3012022. They also have a branch at the Casa Luisa Restaurant Building, along Jose Catolico Sr. Avenue, GenSan.
UPDATE: November 8, 2021. Jo-Ann's Bakeshop can now be found at the RD Building across the Bula Roundball. Customers may also visit its Commissary at Ladera Street, Lagao. A 3rd outlet opened recently at Rivera Street. Calumpang residents may also check out their branch at the SAFI Complex in Lanoy.