Food in Mouth

mei-lai-wah-roast-pork-bun

Mei Lai Wah has a great roast pork bun

I was overjoyed when Eater reported about Mei Lai Wah's reopening. Actually, I had only been there once, and it was late at night and they did not have any roast pork buns. That left me distraught, and soon after they got closed down by the DOH. With Sun Say Kai raising their prices on baked roast pork buns to 90 cents, and Mei Lai Wah gone, the world of baked roast pork buns just was not the same. I was a lost Chinese boy without any buns to make my belly bigger. Sadness all around yo. But this morning, my faith in the world of delicious was restored. I don't need Jesus, I found the perfect roast pork bun.

mei-lai-wah-store-front mei-lai-wah-new-menu

There were old people outside the bakery this morning. They weren't doing anything really, just standing there looking at the sign on the window. It was written in Chinese and I cannot read so oh well. (I believe eater.com has the picture of the signage.) Even from the outside, the new Mei Lai Wah looks new and clean and awesome. As Will Smith said in MIB, "you used to drive that old busted. See, I drive... the new hotness." Upgraded to the new hotness, Mei Lai Wah is looking good.

interior mei-lai-wah-uniforms

The interior looks new and clean as well. The workers all wear the same bright orange unis and red cap that say Mei Lai Wah on it. It feels a little radioactive early in the morning but at least they won't get busted for not wearing hairnets/hats now. And now, onto the fooooooood.

If you are new to the roast pork bun scene, you just have to know two things:

1. There is a BAKED bun and there is a STEAMED bun. Aside from the obvious difference in cooking method, the two buns are differentiated by the bun type. The baked bun is often more bread-like in consistency and glazed on top. The steamed bun is what you might be familiar with at dim sum. The top of the steamed buns are usually open and you can see the roast pork filling.

2. Most places totally shaft you on the filling to bun ratio. This is like the beef to bun ratio in hamburgers and it's just as important when you eat a roast pork bun

mei-lai-wah-bun-innards2

Mei Lai Wah uses a non-traditional bun for its steamed roast pork bun. Their bun is completed sealed off at the top and you do not see the filling in the middle. There was also too much bun and not enough filling on this. This brings it down a notch because the other type of bun is usually softer. If you go, skip the steamed bun unless they change the type of bun used.

mei-lai-wah-bun-innards

The baked bun? Heaven. If you are still reading this, that means you're wasting time and you should get down to 64 Bayard Street right this moment and get a baked roast pork bun. Really, these things are bun perfection (Sorry, J.Lo). With soft, delicate bread that gives way to the flavorful filling, this bun was perfect. The bun to filling ratio at Mei Lai Wah is spot on and blows Sun Say Kai out of the water. I'm getting hungry just thinking about this and I just ate it not an hour ago.

Even though the Department of Health gets a bad rep for shutting restaurants down, I think Mei Lai Wah is better than it used to be. Cleaner, brighter, and a killer bun. It's a good thing that they are back, and hopefully they will stick around.

Mei Li Wah Bakery
64 Bayard St.
New York, NY 10013
212-925-5435

Map to find Mei Li Wah Bakery

Posted by Danny on

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Comments

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  • yay! i was just having lunch in chinatown the other day bemoaning the loss of mei li wah and came home to find the news of the re-opening on eater. glad you got in on it already!

  • you have no idea how jealous i am of you and brownie with your days off, eating pork buns. To console myself, I'm eating bacon.

  • oh man...i do not like the new interior! I preferred it when it was "rustic".

  • I love pork buns, but MLW isn't my fav. The meat is too fatty. I think there's more fat than meat.

  • Vanessa,
    Yea, they're back! And it's still really good!

    Blondie,
    If it makes ya feel any better, I had to work that day and only went because I woke up super early before work. Although, any reason to eat bacon is good. :)

    Jae em,
    Maybe the new look is not your thing but the food should still be good for ya ;)

    Jessica,
    You are right, there is a high fat content in the bun. That contributes to the deliciousness I think. If they could combine the Sun Say Kai bun circa 2004 and the current Mai Li Wah bun, then my head would probably explode from joy. As it is, Sun Say Kai used to be so good, and now it's just meh. Where do you go instead for a good bun?

  • I am really happy they are back but a bit sad as well. I really miss the old place. It was one of the last true old school places in NY that was a true NY secret and not discovered and overwhelmed by hipsters that think they are so cool.

    It was a great place to go buy a sunday paper and sit in a hidden booth and not be bothered for hours. You'd find some real interesting characters in there. I've only seen it from outside but just not the same yo...

    One last thing: Yo filipinos! Stop buying all the pork buns in bulk!!!! Leave some for us huh?

  • You should also try their pork siomai and the special steamed bun with chinese sausage. Heaven! Can't wait to go back to MLW.

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