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NYC Chinatown’s famous pork buns

Since I can't travel, I recreate the food I miss

Homemade baked pork buns

Have you tried this famous roast pork buns from Mei Lai Wah? When you’re in New York City’s Chinatown, it’s a must.

Famous roast pork buns from Mei Lai Wah, Chinatown, NYC

It’s just one of the things I miss about NYC. Ten years ago, I attended school at New York University for a post-graduate diploma on digital publishing. It wasn’t only until the pandemic hit that I got to apply what I learned in digital publishing. We have no place to go, but online. And in my case, no other place to go but the kitchen. I began posting my baking adventures on social media for friends, and now on the TheDiarist.ph, combining what I learned from NYU and my Lola’s notebook of recipes.


I basically just ate my way through my NYU certificate. Don’t get me wrong, I was a serious student, but I was a more serious eater. My cousin Chef Arby and I would go on eating adventures every Monday (his day off from work as sous chef in a Japanese restaurant in Long Island). We would walk along MacDougal street and eat everything in sight (if only we really could)—Mamoun’s falalel, Pomme Frites belgian fries, beignets, crepes, etc. Go to Coney Island (in the Fall when the famous park is deserted) for hotdogs, and so on. I don’t know of any more diverse place just for eating.

Baking fills me with nostalgia. The reason I’m baking so much is because I miss the food from my travels, so I wrote a checklist of the things I miss and made a plan to recreate them every weekend. I have been craving for Vietnamese spring rolls. What should I try next?

My first attempt at baked pork buns. Imperfect rounds but still tasted good.

Failed filling to bread ratio. Some might actually prefer this!

Perfect round buns on my third try.

Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins


  • 2 TBSP yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Pork filling

  • 1 kilo pork
  • 2 heads garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 TBSP brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP soy sauce
  • 3 TBSP oyster sauce
  • 1 TBSP hoisin sauce
  • dash of five spice


  • Combine dry ingredients
  • Combine egg yolks and water
  • Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture, including yeast
  • Add the milk alternately with oil
  • Blend well. Knead until smooth
  • Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until double in size
  • Cut the dough into 24 pieces and form into balls
  • Let rise for another 30 mins
  • Flatten and place filling
  • Bakein a well-greased pan for 30 minutes at 325F

For the filling

  • Sauté the pork in garlic and onions and add the sauce
  • Simmer in ½ c water until meat is tender
  • Add cornstarch to thicken the sauce


About author


Spanning two decades of a career in publishing, she began to see the lockdown as a priceless boon – for it has given her the leisure of unleashing her potential as an amateur baker, writer, and digital publisher.

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