“Cheap Eats” is my post-series on cheap restaurants and prepared food options in New York. I recommend cooking your own food most of the time, but every once in a while it is nice to indulge and you don’t have to pay through the nose to do so. I plan to review many of the cheap options I find on various websites and will let you know if they are as good and as cheap as advertised. If you have a suggestion for a place to review, feel free to let me know through my contact page.
I’ve featured steamed buns on Cheap Eats before, so I apologize for featuring them again, but after going to Mei Li Wah Bakery and realizing the bang for the buck that those buns provided, I had to feature them*.
* Yes, I realize this sentence sounds a bit racy. Whatever, I’m leaving it in!
If you asked me to give one and only one piece of advice for finding cheap eats in the city, I would say: go to Chinatown. Mei Li Wah stands out among the crowd though, for having ridiculously cheap eats!
Mei Li Wah specializes in buns, so that’s what I went with!
The buns were huge and I got four of them. What was I thinking? I’ll tell you what I was thinking – I was thinking that at such a low price, I would need more of them. I was wrong.
THE CHEAP EATS BREAKDOWN
How was the ordering experience? I went in to Mei Li Wah knowing exactly what I wanted to order. When they were out of the Pineapple bun, not only was I devastated, I had to switch my order, which caused MASSIVE confusion. I suppose it was partially my fault, but the language barrier is a little bit of an issue here. Their English is very good, but not perfect and I had to question why I had five buns instead of four when it was all said and done.
How unique is the food? Well, I WOULD say it’s pretty darn unique, but I did already feature steamed buns on Cheap Eats, so I will give it a “moderately unique”. Perhaps it’s one of those foods (like falafel) that New Yorkers take for granted, but are pretty unique in other cities.
How delicious was the food? Three out of the four buns were AMAZING. I had two steamed roast pork buns, a famous bun (the one that isn’t steamed), and a “Big Bun”. The Big Bun had a very strong flavor. Perhaps my tastebuds aren’t as adventurous as I’d like to think, but I really couldn’t stomach the big bun. It was simply a taste I couldn’t deal with. The other 3 were great, though and I am pretty confident that the pineapple bun WOULD have been my favorite if they hadn’t run out of it. I love pineapple.
Did it fill me up for $5 or less? Absolutely. I was full after just 2 buns. And each bun was $.80!!! You can get a filling lunch for $1.60 total! The Big Bun was $1.60. It wasn’t that much bigger AND I wasn’t a fan, so that was a bit of a waste, but overall and absolutely incredible value. My total, for a lunch that ended up feeding me for dinner as well? $3.48! (for the first time, a Cheap Eats restaurant charged me tax! But given the prices, it was still absolutely worth it).
Conclusion: Mei Li Wah makes the cut for one of the CHEAPEST cheap eats so far. Their good buns are amazing and the prices allow you to experiment. Even if you get a bad flavor, as I did, you won’t be out too much money!
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