M Shanghi Bistro & Garden


292 Grand Street


Sunday to Thursday noon to midnight, Friday and Saturday noon to 2 a.m.


Photo by Dominic Perri

There was once a time, before Williamsburg was Williamsburg (hell, before Williamsburg was Bushwick), when the neighborhood had few condominiums, even fewer brunch patios, and nary a baby stroller. If you wanted a truly transcendent meal, you had your choice of maybe two or three restaurants. And if you were smart, you chose M Shanghai Bistro & Garden. Flash forward to the present, and M's (as it's known to locals) should still be near the top of your Williamsburg dining checklist. Opened and still operated by May Liu as an homage to her grandmother's Shanghainese cooking, M's has cultivated a cultlike following. Classic dishes — salt-and-pepper shrimp, kung pao chicken, the thickest lo mein noodles you'll ever see — continue to inspire good-natured debate among Liu's devoted clientele. Typically, these arguments over which entrée is best will occur over a second (or third) order of juicy pork buns, for this is a dish upon which most diners can find common ground: Few people who have called Williamsburg home will admit to trying a better soup dumpling than Liu's.