Mei Mei

When I started this blog, I felt myself torn in two directions: I could write about the popular restaurants that the culinary community is raving about, or I could write about the hidden gems that I discover on my own and can’t believe the culinary community isn’t already raving about. Between school, work, and perfectionism, I don’t have time to write about one category as much as I would like, never mind both.

As a well-established icon on the city’s culinary scene, Mei Mei falls squarely in the first category. I don’t know how much my food blog post will add to the discussion, but Mei Mei is one of my all-time favorite food spots in Boston and belongs on my blog.

Mei Mei Interior
The interior of Mei Mei’s brick-and-mortar restaurant at 406 Park Drive.
TGWAB wall
The Mei Mei team used a Kickstarter campaign to launch their eco-friendly brick-and-mortar restaurant. Of course I pledged. As one of the Kickstarter rewards, my name is on the wall in the restaurant!

Mei Mei began as a food truck and now has a brick-and-mortar restaurant as well, serving up creative Chinese-American cuisine. The food truck schedule is available on here their website. (Always check the Twitter for updates before planning your day around a visit, because Life Happens more with food trucks than restaurants.) The restaurant is in the Audobon Circle neighborhood near Boston University, roughly in between the BU Central and St. Mary’s train stops, about a 20-minute walk from the Northeastern campus.

I first tried Mei Mei’s food at a pop-up dinner in 2012, in which they teamed up with the now-closed Staff Meal food truck and the Gallows restaurant to serve lucky people yummy food. Then I began visiting the food truck, slowly at first because I lived outside the city, and then with increasing voracity as I moved into the city and my schedule allowed. And then I found out that the people at the restaurant have some impressive plating skills which makes me happy in ways that only a food dork feels happy, so I tend to hit up the restaurant more often now.

Mei Mei (which means “little sister” in Chinese and is pronounced “May May”) is a good name for the business run by a sibling trio: Andy the big brother, Margaret “Mei” the little sister, and Irene the littlest sister. They are enthusiastic about local, sustainable and ethical sourcing for their food—if you’re curious, Mei Mei’s website features a map of frequently-used local food producers—and the restaurant was designed with sustainability in mind.

Mei Mei’s signature dish is the Double Awesome. While the menu changes just about every day, the Double Awesome is always available—truck and restaurant, lunch and dinner.

The Double Awesome has been raved about by the Boston food community, and I promise it really is everything it’s cracked up to be. For newbies, I highly recommend it as your first bite at Mei Mei. The runny yolks will get a little messy so spread out your napkins before diving in.

Double Awesome
Behold: the DOUBLE AWESOME! A fried scallion pancake sandwich with two slow-poached-then-fried eggs, Vermont cheddar cheese, and pesto made from local greens, with a side of spiced ketchup.

Mei Mei’s second-most-famous item is the Magical Kale Salad, so named by Bianca Garcia of Confessions of a Chocoholic, one of my favorite Boston food blogs. I tend to opt for carbs and meat and more carbs over vegetables and rarely order salads, but this one is truly is magical. The umami of the egg yolk and the fresh summery flavor of the kale and then a little crunch from breadcrumbs and a sharp tang from feta makes Magical Kale Salad my all-time favorite way to consume green stuff.

If you’re curious about the recipe for Magical Kale Salad, there is a 4-minute video with the recipe on WGBH’s “Neighborhood Kitchens” series.

Magical Kale Salad
Magical Kale Salad! Kale, feta, garlic panko breadcrumbs, rice wine vinaigrette, and a poached egg. Okay, so this photo doesn’t have the poached egg, but I have faith in my readers’ imaginations.

Mei Mei is serious about sourcing their food locally, so during the winter months when kale isn’t available for the Magical Kale Salad, they rotate in the charred cabbage salad! It isn’t quite as colorful as the kale salad but I promise it is just as magical in its own special way.

Charred Cabbage Salad
Charred cabbage salad with black bean vinaigrette, apples, feta, garlic panko breadcrumbs, and a slow-poached-then-fried egg.

The following is a relatively small sampling of Mei Mei items that I have been especially dazzled by over the last couple years. In addition to classic comfort items like dumplings and corn-on-the-cob, Mei Mei often offers some more adventurous options, like beef heart tartare.

Corn on the cob
Blowtorched sweetcorn on-the-cob with local herb salt.
Pork dumplings
Pork dumplings. Did I mention that the Mei Mei staff can plate with the best of them? Talk about “the eye eats first.”
Barley salad with miso-honey vinaigrette, pickled cranberries, and peanut brittle.
Barley salad with miso-honey vinaigrette, pickled cranberries, and peanut brittle.
Dumplings
More dumplings, because DUMPLINGS, duh.
Confit beef tongue
Confit beef tongue with nori (seaweed), braised and charred red leeks, and pickled onions.
More Dumplings
MOAR DUMPLINGS BECAUSE MEI MEI RULES AT DUMPLINGS.
Beef Heart Tartare
Beef heart tartare with juniper dressing, herbs, crostini, with a side of smoked chestnut creme.

You’ll be tempted to fill up on the savory dishes (DUMPLINGGGSSS), but Mei Mei can hold their own when it comes to dessert too.

Snickerdoodle Cookie
Snickerdoodle cookie.
Shaved ice with blueberry and lavendar
Shaved ice with blueberry and lavender. All summer in a bowl! It’s like a snow cone, except sophisticated.

But if I had to pick one favorite Mei Mei dessert, it would be the fried steamed buns. Mei Mei tends to switch up the accompaniments for the fried steamed buns, but I’ve had a number of other combos, and they are invariably fantastic. I’m always left wishing I had room for just one or two or ten more bites.

Fried steamed buns
Fried steamed buns with chipotle Nutella, cranberry jam, and cocoa nib brittle. If you’re thinking that the chocolate-hazelnut flavors of Nutella may clash with the chipotle heat and cranberry tang, think again, my friend. When Mei Mei puts it on the plate, you had better believe it’s a flavor profile that will knock your socks off.

I have brought over a dozen friends and coworkers to Mei Mei and they all “get it.” The food is creative in that “why isn’t this already a thing?!” kind of genius. (Seriously, why aren’t scallion pancake sandwiches are common as regular sandwiches?) If I ever moved away from the Boston area, I think Mei Mei is the eatery that I would miss most.

Also, did I mention that Mei Mei only hires the nicest people? Interacting with their staff makes me want to give hugs and adopt stray cats and put quarters in expired parking meters.

I’ve had this food blog for a couple years now, so you are probably wondering why has it taken me so long to post about one of my all-time favorite restaurants. I kept writing and rewriting because I feel that Mei Mei deserved the effort. After all, they always serve up the best for me. And I’m sure they’ll serve it up for you too.

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INFORMATION as of May 2015
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Website // Twitter: @MeiMeiBoston // Facebook // Try Caviar” Delivery

Address & Phone
506 Park Drive
Boston, MA 02215
(857) 250-4959

Mei Mei on Urbanspoon

4 thoughts on “Mei Mei

  1. I agree – Mei Mei’s is the best! Beautiful photos. Glad you are sharing the wonder that is the Double Awesome with everyone 🙂

  2. I’m heading out to visit Boston in September and I’m definitely putting this on my list because dumplings are truly the bestest things evvvvvver. PS – Really digging your style for your blog!

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