Restaurants

The popular restaurant will also host dumpling-making classes on the site of the Iron Works building.

Irene Li, chef-owner of Mei Mei, outside her upcoming South Boston cafe and ravioli factory. Photo courtesy of Irene Li

If you’re craving dumplings, a renowned restaurant will reopen this winter in a new location in South Boston, and you can see how the food is prepared while you’re there.

Mei Mei, who closed her Fenway location at the start of the pandemic, will open a new dumpling factory, cafe and classroom in January 2023. The dumpling spot will be located in South Boston in the Iron Works building, a space chosen for its manufacturing history, according to owner Irene Li.

“We liked the idea of ​​taking over a manufacturing space, honoring that history, and of course not moving housing, which can be very difficult,” Li said, adding that the building was used to produce electrical parts for cars and airplanes. . “South Boston is one of the neighborhoods that has changed a lot, but hopefully it can retain some of its character.”

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The plant will occupy approximately 4,000 square feet of space and will include a machine that will help make the pellets. The machine can produce 8,000 dumplings per hour, Li said, which gives Mei Mei the “ability to fill an entire shelf with dumplings, then roll that entire shelf into an oven to cook them, and then roll the entire shelf. ‘shelf in a freezer’. The machine will extrude the dough and funnel the filling into the dumplings, then seal the filling inside each. A large window will allow guests to watch the dumplings being made.

On the cafe menu will be lemongrass pork meatballs, cheddar scallion potato meatballs, and a rotating seasonal vegan meatball, such as cilantro mushroom tofu or sweet potato. Li said the restaurant hoped to bring back its signature menu item, the Double Awesome, a scallion pancake sandwich. Beer, wine and syrups will also be served. Mei Mei will occasionally offer dishes from other companies, such as tamales from Tex Mex Eats or empanadas from Buenas.

The café space will also serve as a classroom, where guests can take public dumpling-making classes or book a private class, for example, for work colleagues to attend.

“These classes are modeled on our favorite childhood memories,” Li said. “All the family members got together, cooked, ate, and had leftovers to take home. We really want to create that same kind of friendly atmosphere.

Mei Mei, a woman-owned business that sources locally, makes social justice and food justice a priority. The restaurant uses “pasture-raised meat from small independent family farms” and 70% of its produce comes from the northeast, according to its website.

This year, the Boston chef was named the recipient of the James Beard Award, which was recognized for her leadership. “I’ve always been really passionate about the origin of food, and I think there’s so much magic that you can unlock in food when it has a story,” Li said.

The company is currently organizing a fundraising campaign to help support the opening of the South Boston space. According to Li, Mei Mei will continue to prioritize progressive employment.

“I have found running our business and doing our best to do so, in line with our values, to be fulfilling in ways I never expected. For so many people who have come to work at Mei Mei, they were really there, not because they wanted to be a cook or a waiter, but because it made them feel good to work in a company run by a young woman,” says Li. Asian or mixed-race, and there just aren’t a lot of opportunities for someone in your demographic like that.”

Mei Mei, 58 Old Colony Avenue, Boston


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