The days of sit-down lunches have gone way of the dinosaur. Or at least they appear to be numbered when you’ve encountered a food truck like Mei Mei Street Kitchen. This roaming restaurant originally hit Boston’s streets in 2012, serving up a creative fusion of Chinese and American flavors. Owned and operated by three siblings, whose love for food, hospitality and all that is local and sustainable shine through in each recipe, this colorful food truck dishes out a smorgasbord of entirely locally-sourced and in-season menu items based on their personal foodie favorites.
“A lot of the things on our menu evolve from meals that we create for ourselves, either something we’ve made for a family meal or staff meal,” says co-owner, Margaret Li. “We draw from a lot of different sources for menu inspiration, including our Chinese background. We also let seasonal availability of local products dictate a lot of our menu direction. We grew up in a Chinese-American house, but we ate all sorts of different foods.”
Memories of family sitting around the table passing dish after dish back and forth and coming together through food, now directly inspire some of Mei Mei’s standout menu items including the infamous, “Double Awesome.” Two of the sibling-run truck’s childhood favorites – scallion pancakes and runny fried eggs – take precedent on this quesadilla meets crepe style sandwich.
A perfectly grilled scallion pancake comes stuffed with Vermont cheddar cheese, that when layered with local greens pesto, and two slow-poached then fried eggs, oozes and melts in your mouth as you take each bite. Invented during the beginning of the trio’s truck days – when they realized they needed a super quick item to make during a lunch rush – combines some of the staple Chinese-centric foods the Li’s ate as kids and combines them with food they can’t get enough of, like smooth cheddar.
“We loved scallion pancakes growing up, and we love eggs. The runnier the better in my opinion,” says “Double Awesome” sandwich creator, Margaret Li. “I remember taking a bite and thinking, ‘These poached eggs are awesome! There’s two, so this sandwich is double awesome.’ And the great thing about the pesto is that we can make it year-round despite seasonal constraints because we work with farmers that sometimes have a crop that’s in surplus. So they’ll be like, ‘Hey you guys we have a bunch of arugula that isn’t necessarily the most beautiful but it’s still delicious,’ and we can use it for our pesto.”
Of course crafting an ever-changing menu based completely on only the most local, fresh, and sustainably raised ingredients can undoubtedly pose a lasting challenge, not to mention continuous culinary creativity, but Mei Mei has found certain ways to make local sourcing work as well for their business as it does for the dedicated farmers they work with.
“A lot of sourcing locally has to do with being flexible and helping our farmers reduce waste or use their surplus crop of something,” says Margaret Li. “We’ve had an inherent passion for sustainable practices and sourcing since we started out. It gives us more flexibility with your menu, meaning we could have one day specials like our “Trotters & Waffles”. Working with small farms and doing pig butchering on our own, we were able to feature “Trotters & Waffles” on a truck (somewhere you wouldn’t normally see this type of food) because we had a lot of pig’s feet left over. It means we’re being sustainable by using every part of the pig and it makes for a more exciting and inviting food truck menu because you only have these specials that come around once in a while.”
What’s in season at Mei Mei right now? Corn! Directly on the cob; that raw juicy flavor with a slight blowtorch sear.
Check out Mei Mei Street Kitchen’s Twitter and website for daily updates about truck location, and be sure to pop into their only nine-month old brick and mortar location in Audubon Circle only a few blocks from the BU Central T stop.