Crispy, flaky, and chewy, scallion pancakes are almost universally beloved and available on the menu of nearly every Chinese restaurant in the United States — and some restaurants serving other Asian cuisines, too. They’re the perfect starter, hot and oily and dunked in ginger soy sauce or chile oil or even green curry (check out Somerville’s Lemon Thai for the latter option.)
But scallion pancakes aren’t just great on their own; they can also serve as a base for a variety of other dishes, such as beef rollups, sandwiches, and tacos. Here are a few dishes to seek out in and around Boston.
Scallion pancake rolls/roll-ups/wraps
Bess’s Cafe, 224 Cyprus St., Brookline
Dumpling Daughter, 73 Ames St., Kendall Square, Cambridge; 1309 Beacon St., Brookline; 37 Center St., Weston (order from Cambridge, Brookline, Weston)
Taiwan Cafe, 34 Oxford St., Chinatown, Boston (order here)
Dumpling Xuan, 465 Cambridge St., East Cambridge (order here)
Twelve Hours, 559 Washington St., Brighton, Boston (order here)
Scallion pancakes are a highlight of Taipei’s bustling street food scene, eaten on their own or wrapped around fillings like seared beef, eggs, and more. Here in the Boston area, diners will spot them rolled and filled at numerous local restaurants, especially those whose menus are partly or fully devoted to Taiwanese food. Beef — especially roast beef or braised shank — is the most common filling around Boston, sometimes embellished with hot peppers and often paired with a thick, slightly sweet sauce, like hoisin or plum.
The sky’s the limit, though. Take Bess’s Cafe, an excellent little spot in Brookline with a concise menu focused on dumplings and noodles. Bess’s does have crispy scallion pancake wraps filled with beef, but shrimp tempura and crispy chicken are also options. And at Twelve Hours in Brighton, one scallion pancake roll features ground pork with spicy ginger sauce, while another includes avocado, mayo, carrots, crushed peanuts, and spicy ginger sauce.
Find a few other spots above to try great scallion pancake rolls (often called “roll-ups” or “wraps” on local menus).
Scallion pancake sandwiches
Mei Mei, 506 Park Dr., Fenway, Boston (order here)
Double Chin, 86 Harrison Ave., Chinatown, Boston (order here)
Once a food truck, once a restaurant, now primarily a wholesale dumpling maker, Mei Mei still offers some prepared foods and meal kits for pickup at its former restaurant space in Fenway several days a week. Mei Mei’s best-known item — an iconic Boston dish — is the Double Awesome, a scallion pancake sandwich full of pesto, cheddar, and oozy eggs (plus optional meat). As of press time, it’s out of stock, but sometimes fans of the sandwich can find a Double Awesome meal kit among Mei Mei’s offerings. No luck? Might as well get some dumplings anyway. Or grab a copy of the Mei Mei cookbook, Double Awesome Chinese Food, which of course includes the Double Awesome recipe.
Over in Chinatown, Double Chin serves scallion pancake sandwiches dubbed “chinwiches” (other sandwiches typically served on brioche have an optional scallion pancake upgrade, too.) The namesake Double Chinwich includes char siu with honey hoisin sauce, cucumber, carrot turnip slaw, and cilantro. Save room for one of the restaurant’s over-the-top cube toast desserts.
Scallion pancakes meet Mexican food
Monkey King Tea, 249 Highland Ave., Malden (order here)
Moonshine 152, 152 Dorchester Ave., South Boston (order here)
Scallion pancake instead of tortilla? Sure, why not? Monkey King Tea, a cute Malden bubble tea shop, folds a scallion pancake — a particularly good scallion pancake — like a taco and stuffs it with chashu pork, sauce, and cucumbers. It’s not a taco; it’s a s’taco. It fits right in on Monkey King’s fun-packed menu, which also includes Korean corn dogs, puffle cone sundaes, flower-shaped pastries studded with hot dog pieces, giant trays of spicy crab rangoon, loaded fries, pints of ube ice cream, and more.
Meanwhile in South Boston, Moonshine 152 turns a scallion pancake into a quesadilla — a Ron Swanson brunch-inspired chipotle pulled pork scallion pancake quesadilla, to be exact. There’s scrambled egg, tomato salsa, mixed greens, teriyaki, sweet chile glaze, and shoestring fries. A vegetarian version is available, too. Available at both dinner and weekend brunch.
Scallion pancake pizza
Mǎkěbōluó Pizza, delivery-only service based out of Fóumami, 225 Franklin St., downtown Boston (order here)
The employees at Asian sandwich bar Fóumami, which has been serving downtown Boston for over a decade now, made pepperoni pizza with a scallion pancake crust for staff meal one day, and voilà, a new restaurant was born. Mǎkěbōluó Pizza debuted in January 2022, operating as a delivery- and catering-only service from Fóumami’s Franklin Street space.
The opening menu includes eight preset pizzas as well as a build-your-own option, each with a scallion pancake crust sprinkled with sesame seeds. There’s the soseji, for example, with sesame-soy pork sausage made in-house, sambal chile sauce, cilantro, tomato sauce, and mozzarella, and the chicken katsu, with panko-breaded chicken cutlet, grape tomatoes, chile pepper sauce, tomato sauce, and mozzarella.