Ingredients never travel more than 100 miles to reach Mei Mei Street Kitchen. As a start-up truck committed to the slow-food movement, Mei Mei constantly creates new dishes to highlight whatever produce is in season. While some diners struggle with the amorphous menu (updated daily via Tumblr), Mei Mei's proud wildcard status lets them stand out in a city of food trucks — and restaurants — bound by culinary comfort zones.
A short-lived fiddlehead season inspired their winning "Best spring dish" at the Greenway Mobile Food Fest in early May — just two weeks after the truck's opening day. When May's end brought fresh rhubarb, Mei Mei whipped up their own mascarpone and created a poached rhubarb cheesecake custard that was mellow-sweet and refreshing — a summertime street treat much lighter than ice cream.
It's best not to get attached to any one Mei Mei creation, but there are some staple dishes that show up often and never disappoint. For a light snack, try their kale salad ($4), featuring lemon dressing, garlic panko, and sea-brined feta. The filling "double awesome" ($7) is a scallion-pancake panini, packed with two poached-then-fried eggs, Vermont cheddar, and delectable pesto. Other than these exceptions, and dependable Sunday pork buns, Mei Mei should be embraced as a grab bag.
I can understand why customers complained about dumplings disappearing after opening week. And even though this crew is more concerned with running a sustainable food business than catering to those intimidated by variety, Mei Mei's recent move to a new commercial kitchen means dumplings are back on the menu at least twice a week. Lately they're made with tofu from Vermont — you can trace the origin of any Mei Mei's meal with the click of a mouse, using an interactive map on their Web site.
So while pre-made dumpling wrappers would mean less prep time and more regulars, that's exactly the sort of shortcut Mei Mei avoids at all costs. An adventurous appetite is a small price to pay in exchange for affordable locavore cuisine.
MEI MEI STREET KITCHEN is open Monday and Tuesday, 11 am–3 pm at Stuart Street behind the Hancock Building; Wednesday, 11 am–2:45 pm at Boston Public Library; Thursday, 11 am–2:45 pm at BU East on Comm Ave; Friday, 11 am–2:45 pm at Hemenway and Forsyth streets near the MFA, and 4–8 pm at Clarendon and Boylston streets; and Sunday, 11 am–3 pm at Cleveland Circle. Check meimeiboston.com for Saturday schedule, and visit their menu tumblr, meimeiboston.tumblr.com, for daily updates.