Very sad news today courtesy of Eater. Mei Lai Wah, the coffeehouse and Chinatown institution has shut its doors. FOREVER...
When Lawman first introduced me to Mei Lai Wah several years ago it was love at first bite. Their pork buns were the perfect snack. Round and cheap and satisfying. I favored the steamed pork buns, Lawman the baked pork buns. The roasted pork filling
Then I discovered the wonders of their coconut bun. A fluffy and soft sugar dusted bun with a delicious candied coconut paste in the center. I don't even like coconut, but these buns were transcendent. If you were lucky enough to get them fresh out, they would literally melt in your mouth.
I had it in my mind to visit Mei Lai Wah a couple of weeks ago, but I was too busy to stop in. Little did I know that would be my last chance. I still remember my last visit to Mei Lai Wah. I was taking some Southern friends on a taste of New York tour and before hitting the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory we stopped in Mei Lai Wah for some buns. It was the beginning of Chinese New Year. People were shooting off confetti canons in the street and the elderly gentlemen behind the counter were in the most jubilant mood I've ever seen. We bought a selection of buns and bid the counter guys farewell and happy New Year. Sigh.
I've taken many people to Mei Lai Wah and I regularly talk it up to friends and strangers alike. When I first read the news that the DOH had shut them down for a health violation, I was hopeful that they would reopen soon. Then I learned that they were closed for good. There aren't any hard facts, just rumors. But an Eater poster said that they were perhaps planning on closing in the coming months anyway and this was the last straw. I had to go check out the sign and see for my self, I just couldn't believe it. It's way too sad.
Thank you, Mei Lai Wah for 40 years of wonderful food. You will be sorely missed.
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