Fresh. Playful. Adventurous. This November, Elizabeth Haigh of Kaizen House launches her new project, Mei Mei, a Singaporean food stall specialising in Hainanese chicken rice and Singaporean Nanyang Kopi, within London’s renowned food market’s new development, Borough Market Kitchen.
Mei Mei, the younger sister of Kaizen House, draws inspiration from Elizabeth’s South East Asian heritage, as well as her home of London, and brings to life the hustle and bustle of Singapore’s Kopi Tiams of her childhood memories.
Counter-top dining, an open-plan kitchen, plus grab and go options, mirror the kinetic energy of the all-day coffee stops commonplace in Singapore. On the menu, Hainanese chicken rice using Ginger Pig Yorkshire chickens and all-natural, fresh ingredients sourced directly from Borough Market, takes pride of place. Other dishes will include some of Elizabeth’s signatures like the Ox cheek Rendang curry, Nasi lemak, a Malaysian breakfast staple consisting of coconut rice, fried egg, peanuts and cucumber with a spicy sweet sambal oelak (chilli sauce) made in house, and a hearty, uncomplicated ‘Captain’s Curry’ using 100-day old chickens from Ginger Pig braised in a mixture of spices, onion and potato. Vegetarian and vegan options will be available alongside daily specials dependent on produce sourced direct from the market. Catering for the lunchtime rush, the full menu is offered as take-away in addition to chicken rice bowls for £8.50 that can be customised with add-on sides such as fried chicken, extra sambal chilli, or paleo options replacing the rice with fresh stir-fried greens for a lighter option.
But most of all, Mei Mei will be the go-to for coffee. Proud to be serving their own range of Singaporean Nanyang Kopi, a blend that is rich and smooth with dark cacao and burnt toffee notes, served in all Kopi Tiams.
“I am really excited to be part of the new Borough Market Kitchen! As a new business to get this kind of support to open a venture that is close to my heart, as Mei Mei is, is so important. And with a market place being at its core it will be a lovely environment and community to be part of.”
Mei Mei is styled on the Kopi Tiams in Singapore, which are dining spaces popular throughout Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia that combine an all-day coffee shop with food vendors. Most often one stall operates all the drinks offerings, and various independent vendors cook one or two specialist dishes. It is also a space of coming together, something that is reflective in its name that brings together two cultures: ‘kopi’ is Malay meaning coffee and ‘tiam’ means shop in Hokkein or Hakka Chinese. Kopi Tiam’s are where all can gather, drink and eat; where politicians rub shoulders with shopkeepers and families sit and have breakfast together. With the variety of dishes and drinks available means that these are places where the different cultures, backgrounds and dietary requirements, of the people in Singapore – and now London – can eat together at one table. Kopi Tiam’s are at the heart of the Singaporean culture and is a place that is inclusive and always delicious.
Kaizen House partnered with design team, B3 Designers, to create the Mei Mei project. Inside, the counter will seat 12-14 and hug the open-plan kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work. Exploratory trips to Singapore have provided a bounty of kitsch tableware adding to the lively, colourful atmosphere of the food stall. In keeping with the Kaizen House ethos of continuous improvement, all packaging will be fully decomposable and biodegradable, while minimising all single-use plastics.
Mei Mei is an extension of the Kaizen House family where family recipes and techniques have been adopted, and simply because Haigh grew up eating this type of food. The name, a sign of endearment for the fun, younger sibling to the previous incarnations of the Haigh’s culinary brand, Mei Mei has become a very personal project focusing and paying respect to Kaizen House’s heritage.