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Dec 18, 2010 08:31 PM

Anyone still crave Mei Mei's (May May?) zhong?

If you do, the chef from Mei Mei is still making them. His wife sells them on the street at the corner of Grand and Christy , 2 PM on. (I was there around 5:30 today). She had the Tainan (southern part of Taiwan) Zhong, the Shanghainese, the Vegetarian black sticky rice zhong, the sweet red bean zhong (which is more of a rectangular shape, like the tamale), the lye-water zhong (where you have to dip into sugar to eat, an acquired taste), and this other one that I'm not sure how to translate but something to the effect of "extra ingredient added". All the savory zhongs are the triangular in shape and $1.5 each. The sweet ones are $1.25 each. I know that the Tainan Zhong is tied with a white + a red string, the Black Sticky rice Vegetarian Zhong is tied with white + black strings. The rest I'm not sure.

I'm uploading a picture of the business card, though it's in Chinese. 3 telephone numbers listed, last of which might be helpful: Tel:718-316 2278;Mobile: 646-275 9306;English:646-812 7064

The Tainan Zhongzi (pork, peanuts, black forest mushroom) had good evenly cooked and mild flavored rice, fresh tasting peanuts that you get from cooking the raw ones which seem to be in season now, and pork that had just the right amount of soft fat. I only wished I had gotten the "extra ingredient added" one, because I wanted a little more filling. It was good neverthelss. Maybe those who have eaten lots of Zhongzi from the former Mei-Mei can tell us whether the taste remain the same or close enough.

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  1. What a great find, HLing! Thanks a million. Are they there every day or only on Sundays?

    1 Reply
    1. re: michelleats

      You're welcome! I will upload the business card again seeing that it didn't take the first time.

      I think she says she's there everyday at 2 PM.

    2. Finally, some real news out of Chinatown that's interesting.....Doe this woman speak English for us common folk, even if limited? Thanks for the find and report in advance. you think the extra ingredient is mung bean? Also, (with apologies), for anyone who is not familiar with the city maps.....It's actually spelt/spelled Chrystie Street

      9 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        Fourunder, thanks for the correction of spelling. With the help of the map, (and with a lot of apologies!) it's on the northwest corner (right?), or, in my terrible sense with telling directions, "going on Grand towards forsyth you want to be on the left side of the street, and stop before crossing Chrystie."

        From what she told me some of the different styles of zhong has the crushed yellow mung bean. I'm just not sure if that's THE extra ingredient. I'll ask again. I plan to go after checking out the vegetarian black sticky rice one. I'm not sure if she speaks much English. In the cardboard box where the zhongzi are there is a laminated newspaper article with her picture on it, as well as different cards naming the different zhongzi with the price, but in Chinese.

        By the way, before reaching Chrystie on Grand, on the same side, there's a man who sells fish balls and curry squid and steamed flat rice noodles. I once got a Zhong from him that has the mung bean in it. It's the cantonese style zhong, he said. It was piping hot and a real treat in the cold. I ate it on top of the stairs just before going down to the subway. Even though there were more rice than i'd like, having it hot made up for it. $1.50 also.

        Bo Ky's new location(on Grand) also has Zhong, but for $2.50 each. The first couple of times I had it (heated at home, but they'll heat it up for you if you ask) it was really good, with plenty of filling, moist and juicy tender fatty bit, but the last time it was as if someone else made it. Not as good, and definitely not when it's $2.50 each.

        1. re: HLing

          I'm not familiar with this enterprise, and unfortunately, I have no immediate plans to venture into the city......but rest assured, I will stop back here and post my findings and compare to this thread I started last year, once I do make my next trip.....hopefully, sooner than later.

          Before Mei Mei closed, I read the announcement in the Grub Street, so I made a special trip to Chinatown and purchased 60 Joongs...hiding them in my chest freezer from the family.....Finished them off in about a year....the last few with a heavy heart.

          Did I say......this is good news.

          1. re: fourunder

            Bo Ky restaurant used to be on Bayard between Mott and Mulberry. It is a Chaozhou (Chiuchow cuisine, Teochew cuisine or Chaozhou cuisine or Chaoshan cuisine (Chinese: 潮州菜; pinyin: Cháozhōu cài) ) restaurant. Their broth had a special scent that wafted in the air when you walked by.

            Thanks for the link to your thread! I had no idea so much had gone into your quest. I hope you won't be disappointed. From that thread, both KTiNYC and YTing had mentioned a zhong lady in this very same location. I don't know if it's the same person I bought from. This woman that I spoke to said SHE herself didn't make the Zhongzi, but that her husband (who made Zhongzi at Mei Mei) did. So maybe this isn't the same person as mentioned by KTiNYC and YTing.

            By the way, on the card, in the order from left to right :' Taiwanese Zhong, "added ingredient" zhong, Shanghainese meat zhong, Shanghainese red bean zhong, Peanut salt meat zhong, Mung bean salt meat zhong, lye-water zhong, black glutinous rice vegetarian zhong, and other zhongs'. What I'm craving is probably in the category of the "others". I last had it in Taiwan. It's one that's got a white outer layer (i think made with wet ground rice paste, but not sure) with sweet ground peanuts in the center.

            1. re: HLing

              Bo Ky's Bayard location is still open. They didn't move; just expanded.

              New Bo Ky
              80 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

              Grand Bo Ky
              216 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

              Street vendor
              Chrystie St Grand St, New York, NY 10002

        2. re: fourunder

          OK, I just came back from Chinatown as my sister had tasted both the vegetarian version and the sweet red bean zhong, and asked me to get her 4 each to stock up for the cold week. So off I went to Grand and Chrystie. I got out of the D train NW corner exit, saw that there were two women at the corner. As I approached I recognized her, wearing a red head scarf. The woman next to her had a push cart with some zhong and some bags of Ginkgo nuts, and started to talk to me to buy from her. I asked if they are together. Red head scarf quietly shook her head. Whoa. I see how this can be confusing to buyers. That other woman was standing right next to her, barely 2 inches apart. As I tried to buy my zhong from the red scarf lady, ANOTHER woman showed up, sporting a push cart like the other woman, and stood next to her. So then, now there are 3 ladies selling zhong at the corner of Grand and Chrystie. Those two obviously know each other. I spoke to this woman, whom I'll call Mrs. Liang (the card she gave me last time indicated that her husband's last name is Liang), and found that we can sort of communicate in Taiwanese/Fujian, though she does speak Mandarin alright. So, buyers beware. Look for the woman with two cardboard boxes on the ground, and no push carts.

          For Fourunder, I found out the "additional ingredient" is salty egg yolk.

          For Lau, no, I wouldn't call her an old lady, though I guess it depends on how you perceive her and how old you are yourself. As I previously stated, she's there daily at 2 PM.
          I did upload her card in my post , where, as you can see the first one listed is Tainan shao rou zhong.
          I'm going to upload the card again because the first word on the top line was cropped off by Chowhound's system. It's kind of important that it not be cut off because it means the "ex" of the ex-Mei Mei.

          1. re: HLing

            yah im almost certain this is the same lady, she was really nice and i liked her zhong zi, but i havent seen her lately....ill go back here soon

            1. re: HLing

              I tried the Tainan zongzi, today, from Mrs. Liang (a very nice person and Taiwanese, I think). I actually went there on my lunch break at 1:30 and was thrilled to find her there, already, wearing a red head scarf. The zongzi was a perfect size with good, fragrant rice, a nice balance of ingredients and a good ratio of filling to rice. You're right that the meat had the perfect amount of fat on it -- not too much or too little -- and that the peanuts were fresh (!!). The rice was exceptionally fragrant from the bamboo leaves and nicely flavored, overall. My only nitpicks are that the rice was a bit dry on one side and the dong gu mushrooms were a tiny bit tough, I think because they hadn't been soaked long enough. Overall, an excellent zongzi, however.

              Thank you so much for cluing us into this, HLing! You are really nice to share this info.

              1. re: michelleats

                Michelleats, thanks for your kind words.

                Were you able to heat it in a way as to retain the moisture? I think that is tricky if you're in an office with access only to a microwave. At home I get to have it partially in water, covered with lid, half steam half simmer it with the leave still on so that everything holds together. That could just be me being not really a zhong person usually, unless it's heated through and all have softened by heat and moisture.

                1. re: HLing

                  I was lucky when I bought mine, since it was still warm. I just microwaved it for about 30 seconds with the leaf wrapper on and it was good to go. For the record, I usually reheat zongzi in the microwave this way over a damp paper towel. Cold ones go in for a minute or so. Reheating them this way doesn't seem to dry them out at all, in my experience, I think because the leaves trap the moisture inside.

                  Maybe this way of reheating is a matter of personal preference, though. I don't like the rice to be very mushy and I worry that if I boil it partially submerged, some of the flavors could leach out into the water.

          2. ohhh weird is it an old lady? i actually found her by accident a couple months ago on grand and chrystie, she caught my eye b/c of the types of zhong zi she had, i tried at tainan one as well, it was good....i think it said tainan shao rou or something like that in chinese

            i looked for her the other day, but she wasnt there. any ideas when she's there?

            1. Big hugs and kisses from me to you! I'm so excited about this news. Thank you so much for reporting this find! btw, do you know what's in the Shanghainese meat joong?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Miss Needle

                Miss Needle, that's sweet of you, but please let's wait for your husband's verdict on this , as from what I read on the other thread it seems he's quite the expert :)

                It just so happened that tonight I asked what was in the Shanghainese zhong. It's long, shaped like the sweet ones instead of the triangular. I was told it's got pork only, leaner pork. She said some people don't like fatty bits. I got one, and just cut it open to see. The rice is darkened over all with soy sauce, and indeed just one piece of meat in the middle. The flavor is good though. Different with the soy sauce in the rice, a bit smoky. For those who are wearing of fatty bits, or "strange" mung beans, or peanuts...this might be a good intro to zhong.

                The vegetarian zhong has black/purple glutinous rice, kidney beans, azuki beans, mung beans, and shitake mushroom slices. All tightly packed so that you don't really know which is which, but the scent of the bamboo leaf permeates and makes it a hearty and earthy treat, which is rare for vegetarians to come across. (never realized that hearty and earthy are the same letters til now!)

                1. re: HLing

                  Unfortunately DH hasn't tried the zhong because I actually made my first batch a few weeks ago! I pretty much followed the egullet link fourunder kindly gave. It doesn't quite have the triangular shape, but it tastes pretty good -- definitely much better than what I get commercially because I was able to personalize it and had a higher filling to rice ratio. Big pain in the ass to make, but there's a whole bunch I stashed away in my freezer. I actually made a couple of batches. First batch was made with sweet brown rice (cuz that's all that I had). DH wasn't too crazy about it so I made the second one with sweet white rice which he liked.

                  The vegetarian one really sounds intriguing. I must drop by to try this one day. The nuttiness from the forbidden rice and the scent of the bamboo leaves sounds like it would go very well together.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    Miss Needle, Congrats on your new adventure! Your DH must be very proud of you!

              2. I haven't been to Chinatown yet this yet and probably will make a trip very soon for a round of dim sum.......I also plan to do a little shopping for Joong. Has anybody seen the infamous lady selling these on the street....or can anyone recommend a good one at any particular restaurant or grocery store? Is this information still accurate? I would love to purchase them is so.

                Many thanks in advance.


                6 Replies
                1. re: fourunder

                  sorry I didn't see your post until now, Fourunder. The Zhong zi lady is still on that corner of Grand and Bowery. She calls out with a unique voice, and has a small basket but many varieties. Good luck!

                  1. re: HLing


                    Thanks very much....I will be sure to look out for her on my next trip to the area., Regards.

                    1. re: HLing

                      If it's the one from May May, I've also seen her at Grand and Chrystie outside the B/D station, northwest corner. And I've heard her call out in that voice - good stuff.

                      1. re: squid kun

                        Oops big time! Thanks Squid kun for the correction. It's indeed Grand and Chrystie, NOT Bowery. Sorry about that Fourunder!

                        1. re: HLing

                          No harm, no foul, no problemo.....I actually figured you made a typo...and I have not yet made my trip. : 0 )

                          1. re: fourunder

                            I'm glad my brain-typo hadn't yet done any damage!