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Mei Lai Wah closed by DOH?!?

I just read the news on Eater that Mei Lai Wah was shuttered by the DOH. http://eater.com/archives/2008/04/doh...

Is it still closed? Anyone have any more info?

I LOVE their steamed pork buns and coconut buns. I will be so, so sad if this is the end of the line for this Chinatown institution. :(

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  1. This makes me sad, I just found out about Mei Lai Wah a month ago, and each time I went in they were out of steam pork buns. I would be very sad if I don't get a chance to eat their fabled pork buns.

    1 Reply

      dude that is one of the few places in chinatown that i think it really outstanding

      5 Replies
      1. re: Lau

        My sentiments exactly, Lau. I love the place, can't help it. Feels like home. Just a great place to kick back with a heart-pounding coffee, a coconut bun, a paper, and reflect on the world. Counting the ancient Nam Wah Tea Parlour on Doyers, MLW might be one of the last true blue tea houses we have left on these shores.

        If Mei Lei Wah is, indeed, shuttered for good - and something tells me this won't be the case - it would be the end of a 40 year business. They started up in '68.

        For the time being, I guess I could make due with Mee Sum on Pell, which I've always considered to be the bizarro world version of Mei Lei Wah, what with the counter being on the right as you go in, instead of the left.

        1. re: Polecat

          haha are the cha siu bao and coconut buns at mee sum on par with mei lai wah? mei lai wah really does make both of those very well

          1. re: Lau

            Sorry for the late reply.
            I honestly haven't been to Mee Sum enough to make a fair comparison. MLW always seems to tug away at my taste buds when it comes to buns and such. The few times I've been to Mee Sum, though, I've found certain items to be pretty good, others to have been behind glass for so long as to defy any thoughts of ingestion. When it comes to the old-style tea houses, though, I continue to root for every single one of them to hang in there for as long as possible. They're a dying breed around here, and who knows - as some posters below have suggested - what will succeed them?

            1. re: Polecat

              i actually tried it out the other day and put up a short review in this other post on pork buns, check the post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/514557

          2. re: Polecat

            i didnt realize this was an old post ,, now im confused. this is the place i wanted to try,,, Lau just gave me the address. I guess they are open .

        2. we were there last weekend from Boston and my wife bought some baked and steamed siopao and some coconut buns.

          1 Reply
          1. re: openonymous

            yeah but the eater.com article is dated April 17th, so it mightve happened after. I'll check it out when I get back to NY although that wont be for a week, so im sure someone will beat me (and hopefully tell me its back running)

          2. I just phoned (from Tulsa) their number 226-9186 and, sadly, got a recording saying "the number you have called is not in service at this time."

            3 Replies
            1. re: Brian S

              Oh no! That does not sound good.

              For the past week I've been craving a pork bun, I almost went there for one last Tuesday, but I was short on time so I didn't. I hope that wasn't my last chance! :(

              1. re: Brian S

                Now I'm worried. I picked up some ultra-fresh pork and coconut buns just a couple of weeks ago to bring to a friend (ok, and I had some too). They were as good as ever and it looked like business as usual...

                1. re: vvvindaloo

                  I just called and let it ring about 20x. No answer whatsoever. I am going to tell myself that this is a good sign (better than the "not in service" recording). I don't want to despair just yet.

              2. I'll post later when I walk by after work.

                BTW, Hop Shing also makes great pork and coconut buns. They're on Chatham Sq, next to OTB.

                3 Replies
                1. re: kaya

                  So? Did you walk by? Is it closed? This would be sooooo disappointing. Inquiring minds need to know.

                  1. re: Edansan

                    I made my husband walk by on Friday night and it was still closed. I am still keeping my fingers crossed.

                2. Sorry to interrupt, but we'd like to remind you about our policy about postings that concern Health Department closings. We allow factual reports about closings, but discourage speculation about the reasons behind the situation. Please see this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38277... . We'll delete posts that fall outside this guideline.

                  1. Any update on the Mei Lai Wah situation? Being from PA, I usually have limited free time when I am in Manhattan, but I was hoping to stop in the next time I was in the city. I can't imagine a place that was going strong for so many years would not be able to rebound from a DOH closing.
                    Thanks and regards!

                    1. I heard they were supposed to close in July anyway. The DOH stuff just sped up the closing.

                        1. re: yt28

                          Well, I guess this means we need to fan out and find the next best thing.

                          1. re: Edansan

                            I like the ones at Golden Fung Bakery on Mott @ Pell, but don't hear much about them on this board.

                            ETA: Ooops. I see edansan has started a new thread for just this topic:


                            1. re: yt28

                              No! NO! NOOO!!!!
                              why????? i feel a tantrum coming on...

                            2. It appears MLW will be closed for some time - until new tenants invest enough dough to bring the place back up to snuff. The building where MLW is located is owned by a Chinese Benevolent Society and they leased MLW to the previous elderly tenants.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: scoopG

                                so they might open again? that picture looked as if they were done for good?

                                1. re: Lau

                                  The old, surly previous tenants are done for good. They had neither the desire or the money to invest to bring MLW up to code. The space will eventually be rented out again to some new investors who have the means. Let's hope it's not a new fancy eye wear shop.

                                  1. re: scoopG

                                    haha no we're probably screwed and it'll end up being a eye wear place or a crappy candy store

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      I'd have to agree with Lau. Too many things in C-town close for various reasons and never re-open. Remember the "pancake lady" at Mosco and Mott, adjacent to Hop Kee? I wonder what ever happened to her.

                                      MLW's proprietors were very surly, and I got into arguments over who was next on line all the time with them, but I still kept going back.

                                      1. re: Edansan

                                        she retired, she put her three kids through college with that place and then retired...she was very good

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          Its almost a crime that place is closed. I've been going there for about 35 years. They had some of the best sui mai.

                              2. Mei Lai Wah returns?!? Dare I hope?! Anyone see this? Anyone have any more info? http://eater.com/archives/2008/05/eat...

                                1 Reply
                                1. There is a sign on the door saying they will be re-opening soon. So lets wait and see.

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: designerboy01

                                    Yes, the door now has a new sign which says they are only closed temporarily for renovations. They could easily attempting to clean up the place due to the DOH. Whatever the case, I really hope those doors open up again.


                                    1. re: FuDee

                                      So did this place open or what ? I have never heard of this place, but I was in Chinatown in Decemeber of this year and found myself on a 35 minute line waiting for some awesome pork buns that definentlt delivered. I don't know if I was at this place or not.

                                        1. re: montoya040

                                          I can not imagine a 35 min line there, unless maybe they ran out?

                                          1. re: montoya040

                                            it reopened in August '08. Were you on Bayard, north side of the street, between Elizabeth and Mott? And did the sign say Mei Li Wah? Then you were there.

                                            Mei Lai Wah
                                            64 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                                            1. re: squid kun

                                              I was a block away from Joes Shanghai. And they did run out. The guy 8 people in front of me ordered like 30 buns.

                                              1. re: montoya040

                                                Hmm - there are a whole bunch of bakeries that are a block away from Joe's, on Bowery, Mott and Bayard. Which street were you on? That would narrow it down.

                                                1. re: montoya040

                                                  Which is entirely possible, MLW is VERY popular with the Philippino population and it is not unheard of for them to buy all the buns available, freeze them and ship them all over the globe to adoring fan. Look out for the ones with the folding luggage totes and try to order before them or else it will be a long wait until the next batch is baked.

                                                  1. re: currymouth

                                                    haha dude that's happened to me a bunch of times where a filipino lady comes up and orders like 60 right before i want my 1 bao and im like oh no when i realize whats about to happen and im not going to get one for another hour...oh well...

                                                    I think filipinos have the same thing and call them sio pao (prob chinese influence)

                                                    1. re: Lau

                                                      You order 1 at a time? Like peanuts, you can't have just 1, I'm good for 3 baked and 1 steamed everything bun at a sitting.

                                                      1. re: currymouth

                                                        well the thing is that i live in LES, so its really not that big a deal for me to just get one since its so close...i pretty much get 1 per weekend and usually a cocktail bun as well

                                                        plus if i get more than one than i inevitably eat them all, which is probably not the healthiest thing to do

                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                          I'm in Jersey, so I'm the one in front of you buying the last dozen baked.

                                                          1. re: Lau

                                                            What is the cocktail bun?
                                                            Last time I ordered the "famous bun", thinking it was coconut, but there was nothing inside at all.

                                                            1. re: ian9139

                                                              cocktail bun is a coconut bun (its called gai mei bao in cantonese and ji wei bao in mandarin), but there are two types of coconut buns (the other one is called a pineapple bun, bo lo bao in cantonese and i think bo luo bao in mandarin)...im not a huge fan of the other one which is circular and has hard ellow sugary crust on top of it (its sort of cracked hence the name pineapple bun since its sort of looks like one even though there is no pineapple in it whatsoever)

                                                              the cocktail bun is more of an oval shape at MLW it has sugar sprinkled on top and it has a sweet slightly butter center of ground up coconut. MLW's version is by far my favorite version. Other versions tend to either have a way too buttery filling, the bread is dry or the bread is way too buttery.

                                                              i was refer to it in chinese b/c i think there can be some confusion if u just say coconut bun

                                                      2. re: currymouth

                                                        I never understood the Philippians obsession with these buns. I always wondered how many mouths they have to feed or if they running a black market operation selling pork buns.

                                                        1. re: DarthEater

                                                          Beats me , but I do know when MLW closed briefly, e mails shot around the Pinoy population here and abroad asking where they would buy their buns now. I think that after trying their version not only here but also in the Philippines,MLW'S version is still better.

                                                          1. re: currymouth

                                                            Also, when the original closed last year, one of the window signs posted for loyal customers was in Tagalog.