[London] Okay, here’s the thing. I originally didn’t have intention to try Mei Mei at Borough Market because I can easily have similar food back home.

Why spend the calories and money (many times more) on local dishes in a foreign country? But many people DM-ed me to try this on Instagram, and I was somewhat semi curious.

There was that viral YouTube “Uncle Roger Work at Restaurant for a Day” at Mei Mei, which made the place even more popular.

Mei Mei is a Singapore-style kopitiam (meaning coffeeshop) in the heart of London’s historic Borough Market serving street food dishes.

In October 2021, Mei Mei won the Harden’s London Restaurant award for ‘Best Street Food’.

It was Michelin-starred Singapore-born Elizabeth Haigh who opened Mei Mei (Chinese for “little sister”) to showcase her Singaporean kopitiam favourites like Hainanese Chicken Rice, Kaya Toast, Nasi Lemak and traditional Nanyang coffee and tea.

Note: she was recently in the news with her cookbook withdrawn from circulation over plagiarism claims, but I won’t dwell on that here.

Typical of a kopitiam, this coffee shop which opens from 11am till 3pm (4pm on Fridays and Saturdays) offers countertop dining, an open kitchen, and grab-and-go options.

There are limited seats, so avoid peak hours. Customers are supposed to queue and pay first before getting a seat.

Al fresco evening dining happens between April and October when you can feast on hawker dishes like Singapore Chilli Crab, Roast Duck, Satay, Char Siu, Bak Kut Teh and much more.

Try their tender Hainanese Chicken Rice (£8.50 for regular; £12.50 for large) or go for the set with achar pickles and chicken broth (£12.50, regular; £14.50, large). If you like your chicken crunchy, get the Fried Chicken Rice (£9.50, regular; £12.50, large).

All chicken rice comes with chilli garlic sauce, sweet soy sauce and ginger and garlic sauce.

The one popular item is the Nasi Lemak (£11.50) which has a mix of coconut rice, fried egg, fried chicken, ikan bilis (fried anchovies), fried peanuts, and cucumber.

Coming from a Singaporean who had numerous Nasi Lemak, this take came across rather aromatic and flavourful in terms of the rice. The sambal chilli was almost quite spot-on.

Here’s the not-so-good: I would have personally preferred chicken wings, and the fried chicken slices didn’t come across as crispy as it should have been. There were also parts of the rice that came across as salty.

If you are craving for curry, satisfy it with their Chicken Curry (£8.50) or the Sayur Lemak (£8.50) with vegan tofu and vegetable curry in a turmeric, spiced coconut base.

While the New York Times didn’t get the Singapore Chicken Curry quite right, this was a decent rendition even though it was not quite the Nanyang-style of curry we get back home.

So if you come to Singapore searching for similar renditions at a hawker centre, I don’t think you can find one.

The curry base came across lighter and more delicate without the robust richness – would say it was closer to Sayur Lodeh a type of Indonesian vegetable dish in terms of the gravy, but it did go well with the fluffy coconut rice.

Another option would be the Roast Duck Rice (£12.50) featuring a 4-day dry aged Irish duck, roasted, and served on coconut rice with garlic chilli sauce, cucumber, spring onion and coriander garnish.

A kopitiam experience is not complete without trying a Kaya Toast (£5).

They have a Kaya Toast Set (£8.50) including soft boiled eggs with soy sauce and white pepper, and a choice of kopi or teh (coffee or tea). Add 50p for specialised drink such as iced drinks, signature drinks, Milo etc.

The kaya (a type of coconut jam) and butter spread was considered legit, though the bread was closer to the ‘Gardenia’ style rather than the old-school coffeeshop type back at home.

The soft-boiled eggs would have fared better if dark soy sauce was used (more commonly used in Singapore) instead of light soy sauce.

Complement your meal with any of their selection of Kopi, Teh, Milo, iced drinks, and their Signature Teh Tarik (pulled tea). They even have Kopi Gu You featuring Singapore-style coffee with butter. Not bad, not bad.

While I won’t say that the food was 100% Singapore-style, there was some resemblance and comforting flavours. A place I would definitely head to if I miss food from home.

Mei Mei (Borough Market)
Unit 52, Rochester Walk, Borough Market SE1 9AF, United Kingdom
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm (Tue – Thurs), 11am – 4pm (Fri – Sat), Closed Sun, Mon

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