Chinese New Year With Mei Mei's Street Cart

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Mei Mei’s Street Cart

It’s time to celebrate Chinese New Year and what could be better than serving up a fashionable feast of delicious Chinese comfort food? Here Melissa Fu founder of Mei Mei’s Street Cart tells us how she does it, and gives us her top tips for celebrating Chinese New Year at home

Chinese New Year is the epitome of a movable feast – unlike New Year in the UK which predictably and reliable falls on December 31st every year, Chinese New Year is fact dictated by the lunar calendar, and this year it falls on Friday 16 February. The Year of the Rooster will come to an end, and the Year of the Dog will begin. The extraordinary celebrations surrounding Chinese New Year usually take place over a 2 week period an are world renowned for their colour and vibrancy, unique traditions and of course – the delicious food. 

“I spent a lot of my childhood hanging out in the kitchen watching, and eating, my grandmother’s Chinese home cooking!’ explains Melissa Fu, founder of Mei Mei’s Street Cart.

“Chinese food in the UK is heavily anglicised and it’s difficult to find anything close to home style cooking. This has started to change in recent years - people are definitely looking for more authentic food, so what we are trying to do is introduce people to more traditional dishes, but with a contemporary edge

Mel does this via Mei Mei’s Street Cart – her hugely successful street food catering business that brings ‘proper Chinese comfort food’ to the masses. Chinese-American Mel was born and raised in London, and it was during her final year at university where she was   studying creative advertising that she came up with a business plan for a fantasy street food business that would sell Beijing Jianbing…

“I ended up taking it pretty seriously and after I graduated I knew I had to start this business and bring Jianbing to the London food scene” she explains.

“Mei Mei means younger sister in Chinese - I’m the youngest of four siblings, so I guess Mei Mei is me - my alter ego!”

The Beijing Jianbing, in case you were wondering, is a traditional street food delicacy found all over China with very little representation anywhere else in the world. Mel considers it to be on of the ultimate Chinese comfort dishes, and has perfected her own own recipe to reflect both traditional processes, and local ingredients.  

“It’s a crepe topped with an egg, or sometimes two, with spring onions, coriander, and then brushed with hoisin, chilli, soybean paste and folded around a wonton crisp. It’s traditionally a breakfast dish, but we think it’s best enjoyed late night with a couple of good beers!” she grins.

“Every region has its own version, using different sauces or fillings but there is always an egg, sauce and either a wonton or fried dough stick. Our version is the London Jianbing with the added fillings of Chinese fried chicken, char siu pork, five spiced aubergine, or roast duck. It’s Chinese comfort food at it’s finest - spicy, sweet, crunchy, with loads of amazing textures, all served hot off the griddle - utter joy!”

Meimeistreet Food Cooking

Mei Mei Street Cart In Action

Mel proudly tells me that the mission of Mei Mei’s Street Cart is to change the way Chinese food is eaten in the UK with simple dishes made entirely from scratch, inspired by her grandmother’s cooking and the comforting dishes that she grew up eating, but can't find easily in restaurants. Comfort food – I must confess – I had only really considered in terms of the British dishes that I grew up with; Bangers and mash, chicken pie, a bowl of Heinz  tomato soup with melted cheese on top…I had never considered that Chinese food could also be comforting.

“Chinese comfort food to me is simple dishes inspired by proper home-style recipes to be shared. It’s what you never get in most Chinese restaurants – it’s like having a home-cooked meal” explains Mel.  

“Sometimes there’s a twist like our wonton ‘nachos’ and Jianbing filled with fried chicken. We take traditional dishes and give them a little boost. For me our food is about generous portions and big flavours!”

Mei Mei Food Plate

Mei Mei

Meimei Chinese Stree Food

Mei Mei’s menu is small but with changing specials to keep things interesting; there is of course their famous Jianbing, and other staple dishes include the aforementioned Char Siu wonton ‘nachos’, sticky soy sriracha wings, braised beef in a spiced broth with radish, Chinkiang braised aubergine with a crispy fried egg, and pan-fried turnip cake with Chinese cured bacon and shrimp, and mapo tofu. Blimey.

“We get inspiration from loads of different sources - books, films, places. I try to travel as much as possible. I just got back from Hong Kong were I did a lot of delicious research…” Mel smiles.

“Sourcing produce properly is essential to making really good food. It’s easy to make fresh Chinese food – it’s all about using the best ingredients”


Mei Mei Street Food

Meimei Street Food

Since launching the business, Mei Mei’s Street Cart has won several awards including Manchester Food and Drink Festival  'Best Street Food Trader' of the Year 2014, The Food Awards ' 'Best Street Food Winner' in 2015, The British Street Food Awards' Top 100 and was featured in The Sunday Times recent round up of The Best Chinese Food in Britain. Not bad for a made up business model.

“I think a lot of our success is down to the fact that we serve something that no other street food traders in the UK serves. Our offering is totally unique, so we stand out” Mel explains.

“It’s also getting yourself out there - since 2012 we’ve traded at all manner of markets from tiny street markets to 20,000 people festivals, across London, Manchester, Leeds, Brighton, and Sheffield. It’s about getting your name out there with a consistently good product. We’ve also met a lot of amazing people along the way who have helped us, inspired us, and who have become our really good friends too”


As well as catering a multitude of private events and regularly visiting street food markets across the length and breadth of the UK, Mei Mei’s  currently has a residency at The Prince in North London and they’re also busy brewing their very own beer with House Brewery (to compliment their Jianbing, naturally). And now, of course, there is Chinese New Year to celebrate too.

“I actually cook a lot of Japanese when I am entertaining at home - a big plate of wings is always welcome, and fried rice for everyone to share! Just proper comfort food really” explains Mel.

“If I manage to get some time away I’ll celebrate Chinese New Year with my family at home. We’ll have a spicy hot pot, and maybe watch a Wong Kar-Wai film!”

And so, with dozens of beautiful red lanterns ready to be strung up and the traditional lion dances about to commence, it’s time to start planning your very own Chinese New Year celebrations, and if you’re planning to whip up Chinese feast of your own at home then here are Mel’s top tips for doing just that. 


  • Don’t try anything new if you’re planning on making a feast for friends. Stick to what’s familiar, or test your dishes first!

  • Make your dishes stand out with fresh garnishes and serve them in cute Chinese crockery from your local Chinese supermarket

  • Alleviate the cooking pressure by letting your guests make dumplings or wontons with you at the table. Dumplings and chin wag time!

For more information and contact details for Mei Mei’s Street Cart visit their page in TOAST’s Little Black Book, and for more Chinese New Year inspiration head over to TheEDIT now.

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