Chef Asia Mei Talks Moonshine 152 in Southie

The former Sam's chef is ready to bring the first chef-driven, street food-inspired restaurant to the neighborhood she 'loves and believes in.'

asia mei

Moonshine 152 chef Asia Mei. Photo provided

The Franklin Group’s David DuBois ushered in a new era in Southie last week when he transferred Franklin’s South Boston license to former protege Asia Mei. The Sam’s at Louis chef has already stepped down, making way for Merrill & Co. standout Jason Cheek to take the reigns at the Waterfront restaurant. Now Mei is building her debut menu and fleshing out her staff at her first solo venture, Moonshine 152, which will open in January 2015.

“I was introduced to Southie about five years ago when I got put into the Franklin [Southie] space,” Mei says. “It was the perfect opportunity for me because I’d always been in love with the Franklin Café and that neighborhood model. I went to them in the first place to learn how to operate a space that you own as a chef. After I got the job, I just fell in love with the neighborhood and the space itself. At this point in my career, it’s time for me to settle down and become invested in the neighborhood that I live in and believe in. I want to come into the restaurant space and really help it reach its full potential.”

Mei says that her modern American, chef-driven restaurant will keep the same dinner hours as its predecessor, but a major focus of her new concept will be the late-night menu, where she’ll fully explore the Asian and Latin American flavors she grew to love in her Silicon Valley childhood. One dish that has already earned a permanent spot on her after-hours menu is a bowl of dirty fried rice with crispy chicken, Chinese sausage, pickles, and duck liver, with a fried egg on top.

“The last thing Southie needs is another tavern or sports bar,” Mei says. “There are plenty of places here that do a fine job of satisfying that easy, football game-watching atmosphere. My food will reflect who I am, which is not fussy and very approachable. It’ll be a fresh take on street-inspired food. I’m from California originally, but I learned to cook here and I’ve always used New England products. So, I’ll be local whenever possible with minimal manipulation. I’m looking to bring back what I’ve been doing in the Sam’s kitchen to this part of Southie. I want to be the first chef in the neighborhood providing seasonally changing menus.”

Moonshine 152’s dinner menu will reflect dishes Mei has perfected over the course of her career, such as her signature mushroom tofu burger which she developed at Whole Foods’ flagship location and brought with her to Sam’s and Franklin Southie. Other offerings will include porchetta, a wide range of rotating burgers, butterscotch pudding with chantilly cream, and a halibut en papillote with creamy leeks, orzo, kalamata olives, and steamed herbs.

After settling into her dual responsibilities as a first-time chef and owner, Mei says Moonshine 152 will introduce a weekend brunch as well as Southie’s first-ever industry brunch on Mondays.

“I was with Gordon Hamersley for four years, then Whole Foods, then the Franklin Group. So in my culinary career I’ve had the opportunity to train under the very best chef-owners, people who have become pillars of their neighborhood. That’s what I want to accomplish here in Southie. It’s an ambitious project that I’ve spent my life savings on, and, in a lot of ways my personal career is on the line—but I mean that in a good way. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

152 Dorchester Ave., Boston; 617-269-1003.