Most people probably stop in at Mei Li Wah to get some of the bakery's famous roast pork buns to go, but you can also eat in for a budget-priced lunch or dinner. Just sit in one of their booths and order from a menu of congee, rice noodle rolls, noodle soups, dim sum dishes, bubble tea, and more.
But start with a baked roast pork bun (80¢). These soft, glazed buns have a hearty, fatty filling that isn't too sweet or skimpy like I've found with other roast pork buns (this example is forever burned in my mind). While I'm generally a bigger fan of steamed bread, their steamed pork buns have a too high bread-to-filling ratio; it's best to go with the baked version.
Their fresh shrimp rice noodle rolls ($3.25) lived up to the name; the shrimp—tucked into rolls of light, soft, slightly chewy rice noodle sheets—were exceptionally tender and crisp.
For dessert, get egg yolk buns (three for $2.25), small steamed buns with hot (really, don't eat them right away), gooey, sweet and slightly salty egg yolk-enhanced centers, sort of like custard mixed with frosting.
I plan on going back for more pork and egg buns, but also to find out what the "fried salad" and "crispy egg shatters" dishes on the menu are.
... And to find out what's up with the stumps near the ceiling.
Mei Li Wah Bakery
64 Bayard Street, New York NY 10013 (b/n Mott and Elizabeth; map)