Friendliness, Quality Eats, and Accessibility: the guest experience.

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Friendliness, Quality Eats, and Accessibility: the guest experience.

Part two of a three-part series by Emma James, a Mei Mei intern who spent a month interviewing our staff, guests and suppliers on our people, food & culture. 


From the beginning, it’s been about making people happy.

 Liza Stone (right) with front of house staff Aaron Parayno (middle) and catering manager Olivia Dwan (left) enjoying lunch!

Liza Stone (right) with front of house staff Aaron Parayno (middle) and catering manager Olivia Dwan (left) enjoying lunch!

Liza Stone, Mei Mei’s front-of-house manager, describes the common characteristic among staff as “very gracious, generous, warm, casual, sincere,” adding that “we wouldn’t hire someone if we didn’t see it naturally in the interview.” The staff at Mei Mei keeps these happy spirits alive not only through smiles and good vibes, but also through a “Surprise and Delight” budget, which enables staff to send free food and drinks to guests to give them a joyful experience! Mei Mei has a “treat card” that staff members can give to a friend who hasn’t yet visited the restaurant, so when they do stop by, the servers know to send them something on the house. The tradition comes from the siblings’ mom, “one of our biggest advocates,” according to Irene Li, co-founder and owner at the restaurant, who would give her friends a Mei Mei business card, and write “drinks on me,” and sign her name on it. Since “word-of-mouth is the most powerful way for us to get ourselves out there" says Irene,  "[the treat card] provides a personal connection between a guest that’s coming in and the restaurant.” It stuck! Even little things, like Mei Mei’s all-gender bathrooms work hard to make any guest feel 100% comfortable and at home.


 Irene's Grandparents were Chinese immigrants to the US who also opened a restaurant

Irene's Grandparents were Chinese immigrants to the US who also opened a restaurant

 Irene, big brother Andy, and his son Jackson

Irene, big brother Andy, and his son Jackson

“When you grow up in a Chinese family, respect for your elders is super important, and I think a lot of that translates to hospitality." -Irene Li, Co-Founder

Irene says hospitality “really has to do with making the guest feel comfortable, and making sure that you are on their side, that you can advocate for them and anticipate their needs so that they can have a worry-free experience because you’re taking care of everything for them.” Some of this understanding she attributed to her family’s heritage, because “when you grow up in a Chinese family, respect for your elders is super important, and I think a lot of that translates.”

Customer needs can range from dietary to emotional, even to things the restaurant doesn’t even have. Irene shared that Mei Mei has plenty of dishes distinctly marked “vegetarian,” “vegan,” “gluten-free,” but “we pretty much always provide any modification to whatever any guest wants, [because] the philosophy is, if we can do it and it is reasonable, then we should do it.”  At a recent dumpling class, Irene ran over to the corner store to buy almond milk, even though the restaurant doesn’t keep milk alternatives in stock, because “the idea that you can provide a guest with something they want, even if its not making you money and even if you’re not selling it to them, is really important, the extra mile we want to go for people.” And more than food accessibility, in terms of quality and dietary needs, and a pervasive spirit of belonging, our front-of-house staff members speak a wide variety of languages -- Filipino, French, Creole, Chinese, and Spanish -- which effectively removes nearly any obstacle to good food and good vibes.

"...you don’t even realize you’re eating fancy because it’s at a price point you can afford.” - Emily Ko, FORMER MEI MEI sous-chef

The “Mei Mei customer” is anyone! For Emily Ko, Mei Mei’s sous-chef from April 2012 until the end of May 2018, “the most interesting part is taking this sourcing concept that’s often in the realm of really fancy, expensive restaurants, and making it accessible on a daily basis to all kinds of people.” Although she very recently made a big move to the West Coast with her partner, Emily “really hope[s] to see Mei Mei continue to be a part of the community that is very democratic in its reach and can turn what can be kind of a highbrow principle into an everyday lunch where maybe you don’t even realize you’re eating fancy [because] it’s at a price point you can afford.” Mei Mei’s mission to balance accessibility and quality supports food justice for growers and eaters, and everybody in between!

 Mei Mei Regulars Logen, Brent, and Mikael (left to right) enjoying a meal

Mei Mei Regulars Logen, Brent, and Mikael (left to right) enjoying a meal

The restaurant's location in Boston University’s South Campus attracts plenty of students, professors, and scholars. Logen Zimmerman, the Operations Manager for the School of Visual Arts at Boston University, likes “having really high quality food and service in a more casual dining atmosphere,” where “it doesn’t feel pretentious [and] chefs care about what they’re doing, they put a lot of TLC (tender love and care) into it.” From Mei Mei’s Instagram and email newsletters, he follows the “really attractive company policies in terms of transparency and profit-sharing, which seems ethically-responsible,” and Mei Mei's work to “support neighborhood and area farms.” Logen, who lives in nearby Brookline, “see[s] this place as an anchor of the neighborhood, because when Mei Mei moved in, it made South Campus more of a destination for life and vitality.”

When the restaurant opened up, another customer, BU PhD student and MIT Lincoln Lab researcher Brent Parham “started coming for lunch and never stopped.” Over a few months, Brent went through the entire menu and sent pictures of each dish to his now-fiance whenever she couldn’t come, and now Mei Mei’s catering their wedding in the fall! Mei Mei meals “hit [his] taste buds right,” especially because Mei Mei will invite regulars to special menu tasting events to help provide feedback on new menu items.

Of course, some of the most dedicated members of the Mei Mei family have been with us since back at the truck’s humble beginnings. Mikael Bristow, who works as Operations Director for the Junior League of Boston and serves as treasurer for the Fenways Garden Society, first met the Mei Mei food truck back in 2012 when hungry at lunchtime near the Boston Public Library. “It was love at first Double Awesome!” Mikael remembers that “Irene would recognize me and would ring me by name,” and the “friendliness, fantastic service, [and] amazing food was like seeing friends,” a “personal and beloved” culture from the family business she thinks Mei Mei has “brought to the restaurant and comes through.”

 Catering Manager Olivia prepping for a big event, and Mei Mei fans showing off their successful dumpling class creations!

Catering Manager Olivia prepping for a big event, and Mei Mei fans showing off their successful dumpling class creations!

And if you can’t make it by the restaurant, Mei Mei also loves bringing cheer to all sorts of fun events, like weddings, business gatherings, parties, even dumpling classes! Catering Manager Olivia Dwan is confident that even outside the brick-and-mortar, Mei Mei “can definitely transfer that culture and what we’re all about in our staff and food to any event, they can really see the Mei Mei vibe.”

 The Mei Mei truck serving up some joy at a wedding!

The Mei Mei truck serving up some joy at a wedding!


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Emma James

is a Mei Mei blog contributor interested in journalism and environmental law and equity. She recently graduated from Milton Academy in nearby Milton, Mass, and soon sets sail for Columbia University in NYC. Her favorite Mei Mei dishes are the Double Awesome, the Beef & Brocc, the Roasted Honey Carrots, and the Black Bean Broccoli!

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Education, Feedback, Rewards: shaking up food industry labor norms.

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Education, Feedback, Rewards: shaking up food industry labor norms.

Part 1 of a three-part series by Emma James, a Mei Mei intern who spent the past month interviewing our staff, guests and suppliers on our people, food & culture. 


From the beginning, Mei Mei’s first ambitious goal has been to support sustainable, responsible food-growing practices, but more recently, Mei Mei has been looking at human welfare in the food industry itself.

Emily Ko, Mei Mei’s sous-chef for six years, having just recently departed for California, pointed out that “people will go to a fancy restaurant and ask, ‘how was this cow raised before it became my burger?’ but nobody really asks, ‘how’s the dishwasher treated, what are they being paid, and what kind of crazy hours are they working?’” Business Manager Caden Salvata, who’s been with Mei Mei since July 2012, described a philosophical shift over the past few years, “yes, animal welfare is important, yes, the environment is important, but also, this is an industry that’s notoriously [challenging] for its employees, and human welfare is also something we should be striving towards.”

 Mei Mei cooks Celine, Charles, and Matt (left to right) hard at work in the kitchen!

Mei Mei cooks Celine, Charles, and Matt (left to right) hard at work in the kitchen!

The living hourly wage for a single adult supporting him or herself in Boston is $14.11 as of today, but minimum wage is $11.00, and for tipped employees, as are common in the restaurant industry, the hourly minimum is $3.75. Restaurants often pay “back of house” positions, such as dishwashers, bussers, and even chefs, minimum wage with long, late hours, and rely on tips to pay “front of house” server positions -- a practice wrought with discrimination, harassment, and worker exploitation. The work, in the front and behind the scenes alike, is physically taxing and stressful, and restaurants often hire workers part-time or temporarily to avoid covering benefits. Furthermore, because the turnover rate in the industry is so high, overworked and underpaid employees usually face the my-way-or-the-highway norm, and in turn, might (and often, deserve to) hold embittered attitudes towards the work.

Mei Mei has approached this immensely-flawed industry with the focal question, “How do we make staff care because we care?” as co-founder and owner Irene Li shared in her keynote speech at an event called “Food For Thought” early in May this year. She described the Open-Book Management system at Mei Mei, introduced April 2017 in collaboration with ReThink Restaurants, in three key steps: educate all staff members in restaurant finance, speak openly about and solicit feedback on Mei Mei’s P&L (“profit and loss” statement), and reward staff with profit sharing and other team-challenge incentives. This progressive strategy helps retain staff, pay them better, and create a “culture to work hard and use our brains and be rewarded for it.” In even more recent, exciting news, Mei Mei will begin offering health insurance to staff who work at least 30 hours per week. 

 Irene speaking at the Toast "Food For Thought" event in May 2018

Irene speaking at the Toast "Food For Thought" event in May 2018

Aidan Dunbar, a full-time front-of-house server, describes himself as a “curious, nerdy dude,” but admits that “finances were never really [his] strong suit,” so he found the curriculum “fascinating,” and “like[s] working at the kind of place that would invest in its employees.” Aidan recalled when he’d just started, nearly a year ago, and was asked for feedback “immediately,” and initially replied, “I don’t know how to improve a business,” but reflected that he now “knows how to make suggestions that aren’t ridiculous,” and is encouraged to. He appreciates that management at Mei Mei is “open and transparent about how things are done, and showing me the whole picture, which makes everything just much clearer.”

 Aidan about to enjoy some delicious Mei Mei food

Aidan about to enjoy some delicious Mei Mei food

Open-Book Management, groundbreaking for the industry, further supports Mei Mei’s culture of openness, honesty, feedback, and teamwork. Caden, a self-declared “champion of self-evaluation and reflection,” led a series of team challenges where staff played a direct role in improving the company. The first was to hit a 2% revenue increase in alcohol sales, the second was to cut down on COGS - “cost of goods sold,” a term that refers to the cost of ingredients as well as disposables needed to serve food - and the third, to get sixteen Yelp reviews above 4.25 stars within a four-week period. Not only did staff members brainstorm and apply strategic and creative ideas, but they were also rewarded with bonuses: for example, during the COGS challenge, all the money that the teams saved for the restaurant in that financial period of four weeks was given back to the staff who participated in the challenge.

 Caden presenting to the team at the monthly all staff Open Book Management financial review

Caden presenting to the team at the monthly all staff Open Book Management financial review

Mei Mei’s emphasis on personal responsibility, teamwork, and feedback extends as far as its employee performance review program, which involves a “360-degree review,” a system of anonymous feedback from everyone in the company, supervisor or supervisee.

The Mei Mei profit sharing model divides the profit surpassing a predetermined threshold among staff members according to hours spent working, regardless of position, and “will help to give some extra compensation to our most full-time and dedicated employees, some of whom wouldn’t necessarily see some of those benefits,” Emily shared. In addition, Mei Mei recently transitioned to biweekly tip-pooling the front-of-house tips, in an effort to treat server labor hours more equally, and eventually eliminate the need for tipping altogether.

 Staff at the monthly all staff Open Book Management financial review

Staff at the monthly all staff Open Book Management financial review

Moving forward, Irene spoke of her hope that “everyone can do everything” in the restaurant, from working directly with guests to helping with prep to checking the books. Although more employee training costs the restaurant more upfront, Mei Mei hopes this increased flexibility will further solidify mutual appreciation and broader thinking among the staff, as well as keep the job interesting! It’s ambitious, but the Mei Mei sense of teamwork and mutual-respect “originally comes from this being a family business, where we all care about each other and we know each other as people first and coworkers second, and we all want each other to succeed,” Irene shared. “Pretty much anyone in the restaurant will drop what they’re doing if you have something that needs to be finished urgently and you can’t do it.” Furthermore, because Mei Mei is a “really democratic organization where we’re not requiring you to have two years of experience,” Irene said, “ to be a great employee, you need the right tools and resources and training, and if you’re not doing your job, it probably means that we [the managers] are not doing our job.”

Mei Mei’s truly putting their money where their mouth is: “better food, better jobs.”


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Emma James

is a Mei Mei blog contributor interested in journalism and environmental law and equity. She recently graduated from Milton Academy in nearby Milton, Mass, and soon sets sail for Columbia University in NYC. Her favorite Mei Mei dishes are the Double Awesome, the Beef & Brocc, the Roasted Honey Carrots, and the Black Bean Broccoli!

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It's Time To Celebrate #DoubleAwesomeLove - You Could Win a Month's Worth of Double Awesomes!

Guys. Get this. Do you want to win FREE DOUBLE AWESOMES FOR A MONTH?!?!?

Our most famous sandwich, the Double Awesome, turns SIX YEARS OLD this month. How crazy is that! So to celebrate, we are choosing one lucky person to win free Double Awesomes for a whole month. Yup, you read that right. Here's the deal: you repost this photo on Instagram this weekend. Sweepstakes close Sunday night at midnight EST, then we'll pick a winner on Monday!

double awesome love

You have to be following us, and you have to mention @meimeiboston and #DoubleAwesomeLove in the post. A few other bits of housekeeping, in case you're curious about the terms of all the delicious eggy cheesy goodness you're going to be eating:

  • You get 1 Double Awesome during one visit per day for 30 consecutive days. OMG!
  • We're talking one regular Double Awesome, eggs any way you like, but with no meat (you're welcome to add it on for the regular add-on price if you want)
  • This reward is non-transferable, meaning you can't send your sister or bestie or friend in to get your Double Awesome. You can consider sharing with them though, if they're being nice :)
  • The 30 days starts on Tuesday, April 16th. Remember, we're closed Mondays but the Double Awesome is now available from open to close every other day of the week!
  • Lastly, you can only claim if you come in - no delivery via GrubHub or Postmates or anyone. You're welcome to call and put your order in for takeout though, as long as you come in to get it yourself. 
  • To redeem your Double Awesomes, we'll snap a photo of you with your first sandwich to post on social. Then every time you come in, just pull up that photo, show it to our counter staff, and the Double Awesome is yours! 
  • P.S. This contest is not affiliated with Instagram.

Ok everyone, good luck... start your regrams NOW!

 

 

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A 💌 from Irene: The next five years

Hello Mei Mei family! We’ve got some big changes coming up, so here’s the littlest Mei Mei to tell you all about them. Drumroll please…

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The last year has been one of huge transitions and growth for Mei Mei, and for our family. We opened our books to our team and launched profit sharing with Rethink Restaurants. Andy opened The Beer Mobile. Mei moved to ATL and just finished writing the Mei Mei cookbook, which will be published by Roost Books in early 2019! I’m taking over operations from the sibling team, and getting married in May. We also renewed our lease on our Park Drive space. As I write this, it’s been almost five years since we first signed on to our cozy spot on BU’s South Campus. Hard to believe. As we look towards the future, towards future expansion and deeper community building work, we’re making some more changes to how things work in our business.


As our guests, you’ll notice two major changes:


1. We’ve created a brand new restaurant menu that will be served counter-service style all day.

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Our space will be as bright and cheery as ever, and as always, our ingredients will be among the best and most ethical you can find. We’re sad to say goodbye to dinner service as we’ve known it, but we’re excited to have a consistently casual service that can accommodate more diners with different diets and budgets. We’re also refocusing on vegetables, smaller plates, and scallion pancake sandwiches, and we know you’ll find something you love. We believe that food, done right, can and should nourish, inspire, and connect us, and we know this menu is yet another step in that direction.

Of course, we’ll also have our new menu, which includes several old favorites. Starting Tuesday, March 20, 2018, you’ll be able to enjoy your Double Awesome with a side of Curried Sweet Potatoes or a trio of Bluefish Fritters with smoked paprika aioli. Or, you can try one of our new scallion pancake sandwiches, from the rich and meaty Beef & Brocc to the hearty vegan Gabby. (Come in for dinner to bid adieu to our Kimchi Fried Rice, Cumin Lamb Dumplings, and Handmade Mantou. Who knows, they may pop back up, reincarnated as specials!)

Our catering menu will undergo an equally exciting change. I for one am thrilled at the prospect of being able to get scallion pancake sandwiches straight to your homes and offices (and to offer them as salads too)! Starting Tuesday, March 27, 2018, you’ll be able to get that and much, much more.

It's hard to say goodbye. Let us make it easier.

Place your next catering order before Saturday, March 17, 2018 to receive a FREE Maple Sesame Noodle Salad before it comes off the menu. Limit 1 per guest, $300 min order.


2. After six years, our food truck will retire from vending on the streets of Boston to support our growing restaurant and catering business.

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Like our colleagues at Clover, a couple years ago, we stopped relying on the food truck vending schedule as a profit engine (PUN!). Instead, we focused on using it for marketing, wedding catering, and training up new staff members. As the winters seem to get worse and the food truck community grows, we’re bowing out of the Boston and Cambridge programs so that we can focus on the restaurant and open up spots for new food truck entrepreneurs. On the bright side, we’ll have more availability to take on private events, so invite us to your workplace party or wedding! We’re excited to grow our food truck catering business and have used open book to engage our whole team around these goals.

We are so grateful to all of you who have supported us through the good and bad times, from our first year on the road to our Kickstarter to the bustling summer lunches at Dewey Square. We’ve got some fun new bits and bobs up our sleeves - a loyalty program, a smidge of restaurant remodeling, new biodynamic wines, and so on.

We'll still cater weddings, throw private events in the restaurant, and teach dumpling classes. We'll still serve pasture-raised meat only. We'll still have bright yellow chairs. And we'll still be working to fill this industry with better ingredients and better jobs.

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Questions? Comments?

Feel free to email me irene(at)meimeiboston.com. Thank you all for everything.
Stick with us and stay tuned as we embark on our next five years.

Love,
Irene, the littlest mei mei
and the entire Mei Mei Family

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Our Greenhouse Farm Dinner at Allandale!

We love our friends over at Allandale, the working farm and farmstand located between Boston and our hometown of Brookline. We've been picking out pumpkins and Christmas trees there since we were little kids, so it's been so fun to work with them sourcing produce for the food truck and restaurant. This year, we decided to throw two dinner parties at the farm. Our August dinner was picnic-style, with blankets and chairs for eating all over the main field. Our October dinner last week was held in Greenhouse #3 for a cozy harvest party along with our truck bestie The Beer Mobile

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If you haven't heard about The Beer Mobile yet, it's the truck cousin to our food truck, the brainchild of Mei Mei co-founder and big bro Andy! He and his long-time bartender friend Corey set up The Beer Mobile as an easy option for bar catering and craft beer on draft for parties and weddings. It was the perfect companion to the food truck for our harvest party! 

Over in the greenhouse, the wonderful Allandale crew - led by Emily, Chelsea and Jessica - had set up farm tables and benches with burlap tablecloths and farm flowers. 

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Andy and Corey brought a few varieties of red and white wine along with local craft beer like Cisco Whale's Tale Pale Ale, our favorite Bantam and Downeast Ciders, and Shock Top Belgian White beer. When guests arrived, they immediately lined up for a drink next to the fire pit, cornhole, and pumpkin patch.   

Meanwhile, over in the food truck we were busy plating miso soup with local seaweed, organic tofu, and spiralized daikon radish as well as a smoky eggplant dip with Allandale cubanelle and poblano peppers for dipping. 

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The 80-odd guests (we sold out the event again!) began to join us in the greenhouse for the meal. 

october greenhouse dinner sunflowers

How warm and cozy does it look with tables full of people? We're so excited to do more events in here. 

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And then the food came! Check out the delicious menu featuring all sorts of Allandale produce, straight from the fields. 

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Once we started serving I forgot to take pictures, but luckily Jessica, our marketing consultant/Mei Mei best all-time partner-in-crime managed to snap a photo of the red-cooked pork shank with multigrain blend and the roasted acorn squash with sweet and sour squash seed glaze. 

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The meal ended with fudgy blondies made from Allandale baby ginger and a delicious ricotta & tomato parfait. No pictures, sorry - they went too fast!

A huge thanks to all our friends at Allandale, The Beer Mobile, and everyone else who came for our Greenhouse Dinner! We can't wait to do it again next year. 

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We LOVE Food Truck Weddings!

There's a chill in the air, which means we're nearing the end of wedding season. We're going to miss the parties every weekend -  it's been such a blast celebrating with wonderful people all summer! Our amazing couples have been sending us wedding photos, and we wanted to share some of our favorites here. We love being a part of some of the best, most important days in peoples' lives. 


Hilary and Greg got married at the historic Loring Greenough House in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston. We've done lots of neighborhood events and parties at this location, which is a perfect indoor + outdoor venue for food trucks.

As you can see, Andy, Alyssa and Bibi were pretty excited to say hello to the bride and groom. 

We love a good cheese plate for every festive occasion....and we love a tiny bow tie attached to a super cute kid eating a Double Awesome even more. 

Guests nibbled on scallion pancake sandwiches, soup shots with local veggies, sweet corn fritters, dumplings and more. 

Hilary and Greg said:
It’s hard to remember there was ever a time that we weren’t going to have a Mei Mei wedding. If I could do the whole thing all over again, the very first email I would send is to Irene. (I think sometimes we made up reasons to get in touch with Irene, just to have her calm, caring, organized presence write back.) Again and again, Irene and the crew made us feel like the most special couple on Earth. Choosing a menu when everything they make is so freaking delicious was definitely the hardest part of the entire affair. Our guests just raved and the staff were amazing. I’m delighted that we can keep eating Mei Mei for the rest of our lives, to remember such a very sweet day with a very amazing food truck. Scallion pancakes, people, scallion pancakes.

Thank you both so much for the kind words, and congratulations again! So much fun. Photo credit for all above photos: Emmy Hagen


Another one of our favorite events from the summer was celebrating the wedding of Corey and Zev at the Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston. You can tell instantly from this photo that they're a super fun couple (I mean, check out that blue steel supermodel pose!) and we had such a blast hanging with them and their many friends and loved ones. 

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boston food truck wedding mei mei

They served up Double Awesomes at the wedding, along with all sorts of other dishes, from Red Curry to Rib Tips to our Magical Kale Salad. Irene had such a blast with them. Congrats again, Corey and Zev!

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Last but certainly not least, we have the beautiful wedding of Eliza and Nick at a private residence in West Barnstable, MA. Don't you love these two already, just from this photo? Perfect bride and groom for a food truck wedding!

The location was gorgeous, the guests were awesome, the night was just lovely. Eliza was kind enough to write us and say:

A month after our wedding, Nick and I are still on cloud nine and are so thankful everything went so smoothly and perfectly. A lot of that was thanks to you and your staff, so I wanted to thank you for being so helpful and giving our guests the best wedding food they've ever had (we really got this feedback from a lot of people!)...The food and service was everything we could have wanted!

Congrats again to Eliza and Nick and we wish you the very best! Photos by Siri Jones. 

Thanks again to all our wonderful brides and grooms, their fantastic photographers and lovely guests. We feel lucky to be part of these special days and wish you lots of very happy eating as married couples! 

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Smoked Maple Ginger Vinaigrette

 Spy that dressing in the top corner? It's made from Mei Mei Smoked Maple Ginger Sauce!

Spy that dressing in the top corner? It's made from Mei Mei Smoked Maple Ginger Sauce!

Hi everyone! It's getting to be the time of year that we welcome fall flavors. Whether you want pumpkin spice EVERYTHING or if you prefer your pumpkin spices to stay within the confines of a pie crust, consider another unexpected autumn flavor: Mei Mei sauces! Made with local maple syrup (Smoked Maple Ginger Sauce), cranberries (Cranberry Sweet & Sour Sauce), and apples (Apple Hoisin), these ingredients make us think of brisk weather, falling leaves, Thanksgiving dinners, apple picking, and all the fun stuff that comes with fall in New England. 

At home, I've been using our Smoked Maple Ginger Sauce for a lot of Asian-influenced dishes like Stir-Fried Greens   or Smoked Maple Ginger Noodles with Tofu.  But the flavors are versatile enough, especially when mixed with other ingredients, that they work well with all sorts of meals. Since we started using our sauces as the base for salad dressings in our food truck market bowls, I've been making delicious vinaigrettes in an instant at home. They're good on just about every kind of salad. Above, we've tossed roasted sweet potatoes with pickled cranberries, wheatberries and goat cheese over greens (if you want the recipe, you'll have to wait for our cookbook, coming early 2019!), but feel free to play around with your own combinations. 

I make the salad dressing using the following basic formula:  1 part Mei Mei sauce to 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. That's it! Which might looks something like this:

1/4 cup Smoked Maple Ginger sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, or vinegar of your choice)

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or oil of your choice)

Stir or shake, and BOOM. You've got a delicious salad dressing in about 3 minutes. Taste to see if it needs a pinch of salt, or a bit more vinegar, or whatever else you want to add. Toss it over anything you like and enjoy. 

Come grab a bottle of Mei Mei sauce at any of our locations, or online here

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BOOZY PROMOTIONS

We're excited to introduce two exciting promotions: Boozy Brunch Bundles & Fritter Freebie!

BOOZY BRUNCH BUNDLES

Every Saturday & Sunday, 11am - 2pm

fritter freebie

See you at the restaurant!

- The Mei Mei team

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Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games Viewing Party!

The sibling owners of Mei Mei will be appearing on Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games, airing Sunday, May 7th at 8PM! We're celebrating with a viewing party at the restaurant, so RSVP below to secure your spot!

Details:
Sunday May 7th: 506 Park Drive, Boston MA. Free appetizers will be served with a cash bar for beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks, and of course, Double Awesomes. We'll open the doors at 7pm to hang out until the episode starts at 8pm. To make sure we fit in as many people as possible into our small restaurant, we will start opening up spots on the wait list if you haven't arrived by 7:45pm. Thanks and we look forward to seeing you there! 

CLICK HERE to come join the fun!
 

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All Local Dinner with the Sustainable Business Network!

Last week we hosted a great event at the restaurant - the All Local Dinner! Organized by the Sustainable Business Network, the group that certified us as a sustainable restaurant, these dinners are meant to spark conversations about the local food system over delicious eats. As they say:

The hugely popular ALLocal Dinners bring together local food leaders and eaters for collaborative conversations about our food system over a delicious 3-4 course meal prepared by a locally owned and independent Greater Boston-area restaurant.

At the ALLocal Dinners, 100% of the ingredients served must be locally sourced and produced down to the flour and salt! Each event varies in menu, atmosphere, size and location, but all are great adventures for the restaurant hosts and guests. Restaurant chefs have fun developing creative all local menus, discovering available foods and new suppliers and interacting with enthusiastic eaters. Guests devour delicious local food and drinks, and learn more about their part in strengthening the local food system to expand their connection to new local finds.

Here are just a few of the AllLocal dishes we served...

Spring curry with Heiwa tofu, and potatoes, carrots and daikon from our local farmers...

Chicken wings from our friends at Stillman Quality Meats.....

Whole steamed scup from our friends at Red's Best...

And Cumin Lamb dumplings featuring traditionally raised lamb from our friends at North Star Sheep Farm! 

Thanks everyone for coming to the #AllLocalDinner and we can't wait to see you at the next one!

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Big News: Open Book Management, Profit Sharing, and Monday Closings

Hi Mei Mei friends!

We're very excited for some big company updates and wanted to share them with you. Here's an open letter we've written to let everyone know about some new programs we are implementing at Mei Mei. Thanks for reading!

We are proud to announce that we are instituting an open book management and profit sharing program at Mei Mei. Led by Rethink Restaurants, we will be opening our financial books to our staff and running classes to educate and empower our team to help make organizational decisions and positively affect our bottom line. We're excited to get everyone, from dishwashers to line cooks to servers and managers, working together to benefit the Mei Mei team as well as you, our supportive guests.

After much consideration, we have decided that the restaurant will now be closed for lunch as well as dinner on Mondays. Effective Marathon Monday, 4/17, this will allow us to focus on the new program and other projects. We will still be available on Mondays for caterings as well as private parties, dumpling classes and other events.

Thank you for your understanding and please come chat with us if you'd like to learn more!

Best, the Mei Mei team

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Irene makes the James Beard Rising Star semifinals again!

We are absolutely thrilled that Irene, the littlest Mei Mei, has made the James Beard list of semi-finalists for the third year in a row! As one of the Rising Stars on the list, Irene is one of a boatload of other ass-kicking chefs under 30 years old who are predicted to have an impact on the industry. It's exciting to have her up there with another Boston friend (we see you Juan!) and some incredibly talented folks from around the whole country (we see you Maya and Shuai!).

It has actually been only a few weeks since we saw Shuai even though he and his wife Corrie, who run Short Grain food truck together, live in Charleston, South Carolina. We were lucky enough to work with them and some of our other favorite people at, coincidentally, a James Beard Foundation dinner at the Beard House in New York. We wanted to share some of our favorite moments from the night in celebration of today's semi finalist announcement. 

The event was called F is for Fusion and I think this instagram post, by Irene,  explains it all best. 

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Took this snapshot of the Beard House program and menu for the today while standing right next to James Beard's kitchen! 

 Our 'Mouthwatering Salad ' with Poached Chicken, Sichuan Peppercorns, Shiitakes, Celeriac and Scallions 

Our 'Mouthwatering Salad ' with Poached Chicken, Sichuan Peppercorns, Shiitakes, Celeriac and Scallions 

cafe sushi appetizer

One of our favorite bites from one of our favorite chefs - from Seizi of Cafe Sushi in Cambridge MA

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The menu, in very dim and intimate lighting... 

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Seizi's Kobujime Fluke with Red-Shiso Pickled Cranberry, paired with Ran's Coat of Arms with Aperol, Grapefruit, Absinthe and Passionfruit

 Shuai's excellent Salmon Tataki with Black Garlic Vinaigrette, Preserved Lemon and Puffed Rice

Shuai's excellent Salmon Tataki with Black Garlic Vinaigrette, Preserved Lemon and Puffed Rice

 James's phenomenal Whole Black Bass with Kabocha Squash, Ginger and Scallion Sauce and Preserved Green Strawberries. 

James's phenomenal Whole Black Bass with Kabocha Squash, Ginger and Scallion Sauce and Preserved Green Strawberries. 

The above dish, by James Mark of North, might just have been my favorite. He took a classic Chinese dish and both elevated it and changed it up with punchy preserved green strawberries. 

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#SQUADGOALS

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The aftermath. 

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Cranberry Sweet & Sour Chicken Wings

I'm kind of obsessed with these chicken wings. This recipe takes my favorite flavors from the Salt & Sichuan Peppercorn Wings that we did at the restaurant, but makes it easy to do at home...cause I don't have a restaurant-level deep fryer at home. Do you? (Please tell me if you do so I can come over and eat all the time, thanks).  Instead, you can do a simple and healthier baked version using a wire rack and a sheet pan in the oven. Then you'll just toss away in our Cranberry Sweet & Sour Sauce and chow down. Easy peasy. We use black peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns and white pepper here, but you can always substitute additional black pepper here if you don't have one of the other kinds. Try it out and let us know what you think!

Serves 3-4 people, with side dishes. 

Ingredients

2 lbs chicken wings

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup Mei Mei Cranberry Sweet & Sour Sauce

Scallions for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Mix the salt and pepper, using a spice grinder where necessary.

  3. Toss the chicken wings in about 3/4 of the salt & pepper mixture, then lay out on a wire rack on a foil-wrapped sheet pan. Set aside the remainder of the spice mix for additional seasoning later.

  4. Bake the wings for 40-50 minutes or until fully cooked and crispy.  Try a chicken wing to see if it needs more salt & pepper. 

  5. Once slightly cooled, place in a large bowl and add the Cranberry Sweet & Sour. Mix thoroughly so every wing is coated in the sauce and enjoy immediately!  

 

 

 

 

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Apple Hoisin Glazed Beets & Carrots

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It always seems so sad when you get a beautiful leafy bunch of beets and their greens, and then a recipe only asks for the beets themselves. Why waste so much delicious vegetable!? This recipe, a riff off the Balsamic Glazed Beets from Genius Recipes by Food52 (we highly recommend) uses the Apple Hoisin instead of balsamic vinegar and herbs to add sweetness and depth. All you need is veggies and a bottle of our sauce...assuming, of course, that you have salt and pepper, butter or oil, and water in your kitchen:) Hope you like it!

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Ingredients

1 bunch beets with leaves

6 small carrots, cut in half lengthwise

½ medium onion

¼ cup Mei Mei Apple Hoisin

2 tbsp butter or olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions

  1. Remove beet leaves, chop, and set aside. Cut the roots into 4-6 wedges.

  2. Place the beets, carrots and onion into a wide shallow pot in one layer. Cut carrots to fit if necessary.

  3. Add 2 cups water and add the Apple Hoisin, butter and pinch of salt.

  4. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

  5. Raise heat to high and boil uncovered until sauce is reduced to syrup and the beets and carrots are tender, about 10 minutes.

  6. Add beet leaves back, cover, and simmer on low to steam the leaves for 5 minutes.

  7. Mix thoroughly, add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!  

 

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Buy Mei Mei Sauces for the Holidays!

Guys. Don't panic. It may be a frighteningly short time until the holidays if you haven't done your Christmas or Hanukkah shopping yet, but we got you covered. A 3-pack of our sauces are the perfect present for the chef, local food lover, home cook, eco-friendly eater or farm supporter in your life. Or really, anyone who's into food! And hopefully that's everyone you know. 

There are lots of ways to get these sauces quickly and easily. For those of you outside of Eastern New England, your best bet is our website - we'll be mailing via USPS Priority Mail and you should be good up until about the 20th of December. But the earlier the better! 

For people in New England, you've got a couple of good spots around Boston and Rhode Island to shop. Other than our restaurant, shipping container and food truck, the following stores are carrying sauces and they're all worth a visit for other reasons too!

 The fabulous new Eataly Boston just opened at the Prudential Center and they are carrying our sauces alongside the best Italian food! We can't wait to check it out. 

The fabulous new Eataly Boston just opened at the Prudential Center and they are carrying our sauces alongside the best Italian food! We can't wait to check it out. 

 Our adorable hometown shop Brookline Grown has a great collection of items by community makers and growers. Go check them out less than a mile from the restaurant!

Our adorable hometown shop Brookline Grown has a great collection of items by community makers and growers. Go check them out less than a mile from the restaurant!

Stock in Providence, RI has a beautiful collection of useful kitchen tools and beautiful home goods....

Our friends at Allandale Farm hhave tons of local products, plus seasonal items like pumpkins and Christmas trees!

The Cheese Shop of Salem has a fantastic product selection and look at their gorgeous catering platters!

 And then all the way in Ithaca, New York, our friends Brad and Heather at the Piggery not only raise amazing pigs but they also sell our sauces! Thanks guys! Their delicious pasture-raised pork is in practically every item on our menu. SO GOOD. 

And then all the way in Ithaca, New York, our friends Brad and Heather at the Piggery not only raise amazing pigs but they also sell our sauces! Thanks guys! Their delicious pasture-raised pork is in practically every item on our menu. SO GOOD. 

 Lastly, our friends at  Farm and Coast Market i n South Dartmouth MA have all kind of wonderful local stuff along with great lunches and snacks. Go check 'em out!

Lastly, our friends at Farm and Coast Market in South Dartmouth MA have all kind of wonderful local stuff along with great lunches and snacks. Go check 'em out!

Go forth and get yourself some sauces - as a gift or just for yourself - and we promise you won't regret it. Happy holidays everyone!

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Stir Fried Greens with Smoked Maple Ginger Sauce!

 Stir Fried Local Greens with our Smoked Maple Ginger sauce!

Stir Fried Local Greens with our Smoked Maple Ginger sauce!

Our Stir Fried Greens are one of the most popular snacks at the restaurant - tasty, healthy, local, crunchy, savory - all the good stuff. Lucky for those of you who can't make it into the restaurant, it's also super easy to make at home! Snag a bottle of our sauce at the restaurant, shipping container, or food truck or via AmazonFresh and go for it!

Ingredients

½ Tbsp neutral oil

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

2 cups greens (we love kale, collards, mustard greens, etc)

Pinch of salt

2 tsp Mei Mei Smoked Maple Ginger Sauce

2 tsp toasted breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a wok or saute pan until shimmering. Add the garlic clove and stir until fragrant, about one minute.

  2. Add greens and toss or stir with spoon until wilted and lightly charred.

  3. Place on plate and drizzle with Smoked Maple Ginger Sauce

  4. Top with toasted breadcrumbs and enjoy!  

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Double Awesome named to Boston's Best Snacks by Food & Wine!

Thanks Food & Wine for naming the Double Awesome to your list of Boston's Best Snacks! It's an honor to be named to the list alongside some of our own favorites here in our city, like the Cutty's Roast Beef 1000 and the Bucket o' Biscuits at Sweet Cheeks. Thanks also for giving us an excuse to take all these #yolkporn glamour shots. Check out the article here! How many of these delicious dishes have you tried?

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Taste of The Nation - Fighting to End Childhood Hunger with No Kid Hungry

 We had a great time last night serving food at  Taste of The Nation , the huge event we do every year to help raise money for  No Kid Hungry . We're proud to help support this very important cause and were psyched to hear this morning that last night's event raised $40k more than last year for a total of over $175,000 to help feed children in need! Considering $1 can help provide 10 meals for kids, that money can go a very, very long way.   Irene's Chilled Thai Curry Borscht was a huge hit as usual....keep an eye out and we might have it as a special soon!  Thanks for all your support everyone. See you back at the Cruiseport next year!

We had a great time last night serving food at Taste of The Nation, the huge event we do every year to help raise money for No Kid Hungry. We're proud to help support this very important cause and were psyched to hear this morning that last night's event raised $40k more than last year for a total of over $175,000 to help feed children in need! Considering $1 can help provide 10 meals for kids, that money can go a very, very long way. 

Irene's Chilled Thai Curry Borscht was a huge hit as usual....keep an eye out and we might have it as a special soon!

Thanks for all your support everyone. See you back at the Cruiseport next year!

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Our Mother's Day Dumpling Class!

We had a hugely successful Mother's Day Dumpling Class a few weeks ago  - thank you to all the people who filled the restaurant in support of our charity! We were super excited to be putting on this dumpling making & folding class for a couple of reasons, namely the awesome partner companies and organizations involved. I mean, learning how to make and fold dumplings is excellent no matter what. And yes, getting to eat all the dumplings you can fit in your belly while wearing your brand new custom Hedley & Bennett apron is a dream come true. But we are extra psyched to have been able to raise so much money for our charity partner, the non-profit Baraka Wellness.

Irene and I first met the dynamic and energetic Raheem Baraka when our friends at Lovin' Spoonfuls (another amazing nonprofit!) asked us to run a cooking workshop showcasing seasonal vegetables for participants in the Baraka Wellness Healthy Moms, Healthy Kids program, which focuses on fitness, nutrition, coaching and social support for at-risk young mothers and children.

What better organization to support for a Mother's Day event?

Armed with local zucchini and eggplant, cheese graters and vegetable peelers, we headed to the Curtis Hall Community Center in Jamaica Plain to demonstrate some recipes and techniques.

We snacked on zucchini bread, demonstrated a shaved zucchini salad, showed some eggplant cooking methods, chatted about American and Dominican kitchen techniques, poked some cute baby cheeks, and had a great time.

It was so fun and so rewarding to show some new skills to an interested and engaged group of women and we hope that this workshop helped contribute to some of the positive outcomes seen through the program.

 

Here's what we're up against: (statistics from Baraka Wellness)

FACTS:
 

  • 3 out of 4 families headed by a single mother live in poverty.

  • More than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

  • Obese adolescents are more likely to become obese adults.

  • Nearly 50% of all African American women have diabetes.

  • At least one out of every five U.S. teenagers has abnormal cholesterol levels.

  • Overweight and obesity are associated with a 52 percent increased risk of a diagnosis of asthma.

  • Children born to obese mothers are twice as likely to be obese and to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

But thankfully, the people of Baraka Wellness and so many other partners and organizations are working hard to combat these stark realities. Some measurable improvements reported by Baraka include 400% increase in nutrition knowledge, 300% increase in daily physical activity and 3-43 pounds lost while enrolled in Healthy Moms, Healthy Kids. They combine fitness classes with nutrition classes, dietary coaching, social work and more to approach a complex issue from multiple angles. It's so great to see such a targeted, specific, measurable program really make a difference in people's lives. 

We're so happy to support the important work being done at Baraka Wellness through this event. Through the dumpling class, we raised $800 which will go directly to Healthy Mom, Healthy Kids (a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization)! Learn more about them by checking out the video below.

And a huge thanks also to Claudia and Leah from Fresh Magazine by Hannaford for the adorable little recipe cards! You guys are the best. 

Stay tuned for our next class and more opportunities to get dumplings in your belly, an awesome custom apron around your waist, and support a great cause!

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