Mei Mei will open a dumpling factory and cafe in South Boston

The popular restaurant will also host dumpling-making classes at the Iron Works building location.

Mei Mei chef-owner Irene Li outside her upcoming South Boston dumpling factory and cafe. Photo courtesy of Irene Li

If you’ve been craving dumplings, a renowned eatery will be reopening at a new South Boston location this winter—and you will be able to see how the food gets made while you’re there.

Mei Mei, which closed its Fenway location at the start of the pandemic, will open a new dumpling factory, cafe, and classroom in January 2023. The dumpling spot will be located in South Boston at the Iron Works building, a space chosen for its manufacturing history, according to owner Irene Li.

“We liked the idea that we would be taking over a manufacturing space, honoring that history, and of course, not displacing housing, which can be really hard,” Li said, adding that the building used to produce electrical parts for cars and airplanes. “South Boston is one of the neighborhoods that has changed a lot, but we’re hoping it can retain some of its character.”

The factory will take over approximately 4,000 square feet of space and will feature a machine that will help make the dumplings. The machine can produce 8,000 dumplings an hour, Li said, which gives Mei Mei the “capacity to fill up a whole shelf with dumplings and then roll that entire shelf into an oven to cook them, then roll the entire shelf into a freezer.” The machine will extrude the dough and pipe the filling into the dumplings, then seal the filling inside each one. A large window will allow guests to watch the dumplings being made.


On the menu at the cafe, there will be lemongrass pork dumplings, cheddar scallion potato dumplings, and a rotating seasonal vegan dumpling, like the mushroom tofu cilantro or the sweet potato. Li said the restaurant is hoping to bring back its signature menu item, the Double Awesome, a scallion pancake sandwich. Beer, wine, and cordials will also be served. Mei Mei will occasionally feature food from other businesses, such as tamales from Tex Mex Eats or empanadas from Buenas.

The cafe space will double as a classroom, where guests can take public dumpling-making classes or book a private class, for example, for work colleagues to attend.

“Those classes are modeled after our favorite childhood memories,” Li said. “Everyone in the family would get together, cook, eat, and have leftovers to take home. We really want to create that same kind of convivial atmosphere.”

Mei Mei, a woman-owned business that sources its ingredients locally, makes social justice and food justice a priority. The restaurant uses “pasture raised meat from small, independent family farms,” and 70% of its produce comes from the Northeast, according to its website.

This year, the Boston chef was named a James Beard Award winner who was recognized for her leadership. “I’ve always been really passionate about where food comes from, and I think there’s so much magic that you can unlock from food when it has a story,” Li said.


The business is currently holding a fundraising campaign to help support the opening of the South Boston space. According to Li, Mei Mei will continue to prioritize progressive employment.

“I found that running our business and doing our best to do so, in accordance with our values, was fulfilling in a way that I had never expected. For so many folks who came to work at Mei Mei, they were really there, not because they wanted to be a cook or a server, but because it felt good to them to work in a business that was led by a young woman,” Li said. “Many of our staff are Asian American or mixed race, and there just aren’t a lot of opportunities for someone that’s from your demographic like that.”

Mei Mei, 58 Old Colony Ave., Boston

Let us know: Do you have a favorite place to get dumplings? We want to hear about it. Share your thoughts in the form below or send us an e-mail at [email protected]. Your response may be used in an upcoming article and/or social media channels.

Sorry. This form is no longer available.