At home with… Janie Zhao

Owner and Manager of Breadtop Burwood Janie Zhao was still a law student when she decided she would rather open up her own bakery than another textbook. Five years in, Janie’s store has been selected as a finalist in the Inner West Business Awards. Janie shares with us her insatiable passion for food.

As a resident of Burwood can you let us in on any delicious places to eat?
There are a variety of delicious foods in Burwood as we are very multicultural, but for some reason I quite like the fish and salad down at Burwood Plaza.

What is unique about Breadtop bakery items compared to traditional European baked goods? Why is it so popular?
We hope to cater to everybody’s needs. Although Breadtop is more recognised as an Asian bakery, it is in fact multicultural: we offer Danishes, pastries and cakes, wholemeal bread and baguettes.

European baked goods tend to be very bland, rich and a bit coarse, we make our bread extremely soft, offer a large variety of ingredients like prawn, fish, taro, tuna, seafood stick, and we also try to not make the buns too sweet or salty.

What is the strangest question you have been asked whilst working at the Breadtop store?
We have a cake in the shape of a puppy, and once I had a customer ask me if I can sell him a portion of the puppy cake… Animal cruelty! I didn’t know what he was thinking.

What is your favourite meal to make at home?
I love salads because they are healthy and easy to make. I love the Japanese seaweed salad, so what I would do is buy a packet of mixed salad leaves, buy some Japanese seaweed, cut some avocadoes and top it with tofu, and the dressing I use is balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil, pepper and salt, easy!

Zha Jiang Mian

This is one of my favourite dishes; many call it ‘Chinese spaghetti bolognaise’ but the Chinese name means ‘minced pork noodles’.

Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 spring onions/shallots, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
600g minced pork
125 ml black bean chili sauce
80ml hoisin sauce
275ml chicken stock or water
2 tsp caster sugar
400g fresh Shanghai noodles
Half a cucumber julienned

Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat then add garlic, ginger and spring onions. Stir constantly for three minutes until everything softens. Add minced pork and cook for five minutes until everything turns brown. Stir in the two sauces, and keep on stirring for two minutes until all the meat is completely coated. Then add the chicken stock and sugar and let it simmer for 15 minutes, until most of the liquid is reduced.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packaging. Drain and divide in bowls and top with the meat sauce. Then serve with the julienned cucumber and sprinkle with extra spring onions.

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