Joe's Shanghai first opened in Queens, but buoyed by the accolades accorded his steamed soup dumplings - magically filled with a rich, fragrant broth and a pork or pork-and-crabmeat mixture Joe saw fit to open in Manhattan's Chinatown, and then midtown. At each location there is always a wait, but the line moves fast. Menu high-lights include turnip shortcakes and dried bean curd salad to start, and succulent braised pork shoulder, ropey homemade Shanghai noodles, and traditional lion's head-rich pork meatballs braised in brown sauce and embellished with steamed baby bok choy - to follow. Other more familiar Chinese dishes are also excellent.
Address: 9 Pell St., between Bowery and Mott St.
Great New York Noodletown
Lacquered ducks, roasted pork, crunchy baby pig, and soy sauce chicken hang in the window of this clean, no-frills restaurant. Each is superb, especially with the pungent garlic and ginger sauce served on the side. The soups and noodles are unbeatable-try the shrimp dumplings in broth or the pan-fried noodles with beef. Seasonal specialties such as duck with flowering chives and salt-baked soft-shell crabs are excellent. So is the congee (rice porridge), available with any number of garnishes. Solo diners may end up at a communal table, but everyone ends up happy.
Address: 28 Bowery, at Bayard St.
Phone: 212/349-0923. Reservations not accepted. No credit cards.