M Shanghai Bistro – NYC
Spicy Wontons @ M Shanghai Bistro
On Sunday, I was planning to have a nice simple home-cooked meal for brunch. After eating out Friday and Saturday, I felt I needed something homemade. As I was unpacking my groceries, however, I got a call from Eunice saying we had to go eat at M Shanghai Bistro. At first I resisted, I mean I did just buy some organic prosciutto and a good size wedge of Salva Cremasco, which is currently my favorite cheese. But then she said the magic words “xiao long bao,” and I threw everything in the fridge and left for Williamsburg.
We started out with the Spicy Wontons. The pork inside was fresh and juicy. The sauce I wasn’t in love with. It reminded me of the cloying peanut butter/sesame sauce on sesame noodles at Chinese take-outs, which, don’t get me wrong, I don’t absolutely hate. It has it’s place in Chinese-American cuisine. I just wasn’t expecting it at M Shanghai Bistro. Also, I just ate the most delicious spicy wontons at Szechuan Gourmet two weeks ago, so these severely paled in comparison.
The Sliced Beef Marinate was the saving grace. The meat was again very fresh and extremely tender and juicy. A lot of times when you get this dish at other restaurants, it’s very dry and tough with a lot of rubbery tendons snaking throughout. The Sliced Beef at M was soft and flavorful. I ate a ton of this with lots of chili oil.
For some reason we were thinking Sticky Rice Shu-mai would be interesting. It turned out to be not interesting and very bland. Perhaps if there was some char siu or some pork belly in the middle it would have been more tasty, but there was just rice, and more rice, all wrapped in a dumpling skin. Eunice claimed she liked it, which then prompted Paul (her boyfriend) to ask worriedly, “Honey, you don’t really like it, do you?”
The Steamed Juicy Pork Buns (Xiao Long Bao) seemed slightly smaller than the ones at Joe’s Shanghai, which I don’t mind if they are good. And were they? They were OK. The first one I ate had no soup. The second had a good amount, although less than Joe’s Shanghai. The pork was delicious though. It tasted fresh, clean, and less greasy than the filling at Joe’s Shanghai. That said, I do like Joe’s Shanghai soup dumplings much better. I want my dumplings bursting with soup in my spoon, and M’s were too modest in their quantity of soup.
Now don’t these noodle soups look delicious? Well, they were not. While the meat in the Baby Back Ribs with Spinach Noodle Soup and the Shredded Pork with Salted Cabbage Noodle Soup was good, both dishes were ruined by the strangely sweet broth. I’m not sure why they made the soup so sweet, but it was so confusing. Even adding a ton of chili oil wouldn’t counter the sweetness. It was bizarre to say the least.
I had my doubts about my M Shanghai Bistro. I mean how good can a Chinese restaurant in Williamsburg be? There isn’t much competition for a Chinese restaurant there. But for the most part, M Shanghai Bistro is good. It’s incomparable to a good restaurant in Chinatown, but it is a nice alternative if you happen to be in Williamsburg and the L is down, as it usually is when you need it. I would say, stick to the appetizers and the meat dishes, since the quality of the meats in all the dishes I tried were really good. Just stay away from the noodle soups, unless you are interested in a noodle dessert.
M Shanghai Bistro & Den
129 Havemeyer Street (South First Street)