The Book of Bao, and Other Chinatown News

Mei Lai Wah, a Chinatown institution that survived a couple of close calls in recent years, has sadly served its last roasted pork bun. Lau (whose reaction to news of its demise was an aching “NOOOOOOOOOO”) has already lined up a new go-to spot, Sun Say Kai.

Its steamed cha siu bao features pork (neither too fatty nor too tough) in savory brown sauce, tucked inside soft, fluffy bread, Lau reports. meatme finds Sun Say Kai’s buns, baked as well as steamed, similar in style to Mei Lai Wah’s but a tad larger, meatier, and more flavorful: “analogous to slightly increasing the contrast and color saturation of a photo.” Not everyone is won over. “OK but nothing special and certainly not comparable to Mei Lai Wah,” sniffs Chandavkl.

Mee Sum Café, an old-school survivor on Pell Street, scratches the bao itch for david sprague, who also recommends the steamed bun with Chinese sausage. Lau rates its roasted pork bun “very good,” with a filling that’s sweeter and leaner than Mei Lai Wah’s but also less generous.

A perennial favorite is Chatham Restaurant (known to Chinatown veterans as the former Hop Shing), a busy, dinerish place with a high turnover that increases the odds of scoring fresh buns, says SomeRandomIdiot. He appreciates the meat-to-bread ratio and the onions in the filling—a hotly debated addition that some other hounds deplore.

DarthEater, who faults Chatham’s filling for its cornstarch gloppiness, prefers the baked bao at Wing Shoon. Others endorse the pork buns at two sister bakeries, Nice One and Lucky King, as well as Golden Fung Wong Bakery.

Chinatown Chowhounds lost another favorite this spring, the Shanghai dumpling specialist Goodies. It was quickly replaced by a Fukianese place called Kong Xin Restaurant. Fuzhou-style wonton soup—around 15 delicate dumplings in clear broth with scallions—is simple, delicious, and amazingly cheap, at just $2, scoopG reports. Sweet-sour lychee pork over rice, which comes with cauliflower, red and green peppers, and a scattering of bamboo shoots and black mushrooms, is sweeter and less vinegary than the version at Best Fuzhou on Forsyth, which scoopG prefers.

Other intriguing options on the menu, he adds, include duck blood with chives, rabbit with Fuzhou sauce, goose intestine four ways, nine different frog dishes, and—typical of a Fuzhou restaurant—some 20 soups.

Sun Say Kai [Chinatown]
220 Canal Street (at Baxter Street), Manhattan
212-964-7256

Mee Sum Café [Chinatown]
26 Pell Street (between Mott Street and Bowery), Manhattan
212-962-9934

Chatham Restaurant [Chinatown]
9 Chatham Square (between Doyers and Worth streets), Manhattan
212-267-0220

Wing Shoon [Lower East Side]
165 E. Broadway (at Rutgers Street), Manhattan
212-780-0238

Nice One Bakery [Chinatown]
47 Bayard Street (between Mott Street and Bowery), Manhattan
212-791-9365

Lucky King Bakery [Chinatown]
280 Grand Street (between Forsyth and Eldridge streets), Manhattan
212-219-8434

Golden Fung Wong Bakery [Chinatown]
41 Mott Street (between Bayard and Mosco streets), Manhattan
212-267-4037

Kong Xin Restaurant [Chinatown]
1 E. Broadway (between Chatham Square and Catherine Street), Manhattan
212-385-2088

Board Links: Sun Say Kai–my official replacement for Mei Lai Wah
Calling all pork bun eaters….
Bad Bad News! Mei Lai Wah is not reopening afterall…
Wing Shoon–ok, but a bit of a trek
Mei Lai Wah closed by DOH?!?
So Long Goodies, Hello Fuzhou Restaurant
Goodies closed?