Where to Mei Mei, the new brick-and-mortar restaurant from the team behind food truck Mei Mei Street Kitchen. Siblings Andy, Margaret (Mei), and Irene Li partially financed their latest project through a Kickstarter campaign.
What for Creative, Chinese-influenced food made with ingredients from small, local farms. Fans of the truck will appreciate regular access to the Double Awesome (an egg sandwich on scallion pancakes). And a stationary kitchen allows the chefs to stretch. In addition to familiar lunch items, the Audubon Circle restaurant serves more elaborate dishes at dinner.
The scene Mei Mei is a cheerful little space with brick walls, bright yellow chairs and stools, an open kitchen, and shelves that display cookbooks and an army of Sriracha bottles. The staff is equally cheerful and sweet, greeting all who enter warmly. A brightly chalked wall lists the lunch menu alongside illustrations of swimming fish and logos of local farms such as Allandale and John Crow. On a recent evening, tables are filled with groups of grad students and young professionals. At one, a couple attempts to flirt while eating with chopsticks; at another a young man uses them to drum along with the alt-country soundtrack. Two men enter, one tall, one small, both with impressive pompadours and thick winter sweaters. A human Double Awesome!
What you’re eating If it’s lunchtime, expect dishes such as (clockwise, from left) a sandwich called the Fat Schantz, scallion pancakes with roast beef, potato salad, and cranberry hoisin sauce; beef dumplings; and rice porridge. Dinner brings beef shank and tofu in mapo sauce and lamb’s head broth, deeply smoky with a sneaky heat, sliced apple providing crunch and freshness. Or try the Winter Warmth Curry, a red curry with root vegetables and fried Korean-style rice cakes.
Care for a drink? The Haymaker’s Punch contains apple cider vinegar, honey, and cranberry bitters. Its pucker is the perfect counterpoint to the spicy, savory food.
Overheard A server extolling the virtues of the double-cut John Crow Farm pork chop, which serves the whole table and is, he says, made from pigs who live supremely happy lives. “It’s amazing,” he says. “I might come in for it with my girl on my day off.” Two women sip hesitantly at their Haymaker’s Punch. “This is like something Almanzo would drink in ‘Little House’ while working in the fields,” one opines. “This is like something you drink before you take a drug test you think you might fail,” says the other. “This is the food truck, right?” asks a woman placing an order at the counter. “Didn’t it used to be a pizza place?” “Yes,” says the guy at the counter. “Some people came in and tried to order pizza just the other day.” At a table, someone takes a bite of a Double Awesome. “That looks good,” says her companion enviously. “It’s double happiness,” she says. “It’s pure happiness.”
506 Park Drive, Boston. 857-250-4959. www.meimeiboston.com.Devra First can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @devrafirst.