As a born and bred New Yorker, I am very proud of my city. But I go to university in Worcester, Massachusetts, so I am right around the corner from New England’s New York, aka Boston. Living in such close proximity to some of the biggest cities on the East Coast, I can’t help but “compare and contrast” the cities’ amenities.
A simple pork bun is usually composed of soft milk bread, pork belly that melts in your mouth, and the occasional crunch of cucumber.
So, I ventured into Boston, found a bakery in Chinatown, Corner Cafe Bakery, and attempted to silence my pork bun craving. And it was adequate.
As a budding pork bun connoisseur, I quickly deduced that the bun-to-pork ratio wasn’t properly balanced, resulting in countless porkless bites. Which would have been disappointing alone, but the theoretical BBQ pork was flavorless. The paper wrapper pulled off the bread of the bun weakening the integrity, but thankfully the lackluster amount of pork didn’t break the lower half of the bun.
After further consideration, this Corner Cafe pork bun is adequate for the common pork bun consumer, but this budding expert will not be returning.
However, I do constantly think about my New York buns, mostly because they are some of the best pork buns I have ever had.
My pork bun journey started on Clark’s campus, at the Bistro. This cafeteria food awakened the pork bun beast within. Afterward, I scoured for pork buns at my favorite restaurants but was unaware that pork buns are often found in Chinese bakeries. But one day, the stars aligned, and my life was forever changed.
Okay, that may seem a little dramatic. But these pork buns are life-changing and, therefore, worthy of melodrama.
One sunny New York day, I was three days post-op after getting a wisdom tooth pulled, I was exhausted and permanently tired of soup, and the greater power at be––Instagram’s algorithm––sent me a reel of delicious Pork buns. Unfortunately, my Instagram is often filled with mouthwatering foods that I am never able to go to, as these countless restaurants are scattered across the globe.
Nevertheless, I still had to watch the video. And I was immediately overjoyed that this bakery was in my own Chinatown.
So, I flung the ice pack off my face, dragged my parents out of the house, and we left.
When we arrived at Mei Lai Wah, there was a slight line, but nothing was going to get in the way of me and these pork buns. The line moved quickly, and I was soon able to engorge countless of these buns.
We got two types: Baked Roast Pork Bun and the Pineapple Bun with Roast Pork. Just thinking about these buns, my mouth waters, I can feel the melting pork on my tongue, and tears come to my eyes.
The Baked Roast Pork Bun was delectable, the definition of the perfect pinnacle pork bun. But the Pineapple Bun with Roast Pork adds a hint of sweetness to the gooey pork that pairs surprisingly well. And if that wasn’t good enough, they are reasonably priced. The classic pork bun is around $1.80, and the other is roughly $2.30.
In comparison, my previous go-to place was roughly $3.5 per bun, and while they were good, they were not Mei Lai Wah’s perfect pork buns.
So who won the battle over my taste buds? Well, I am happy to report: New York 1, Boston 0.