I'm new to the board but have lived in and around Chinatown for some thirty odd years and wanted to share some faves.
New Southwind (aka Nam Fong) on 21 Division St.
One of the last of the old school Chinatown lunch places, check out the counter with its stools.
Great food, from amazing cheung fun, stuffed to fu, and my personal favorite, siu gau (basically a dumpling) meaty and delicious esp. with a little soy sauce on top. Great rice dishes as well like the beef and green peas over rice and the pork chop onion on rice.
I remember my dad taking me here when I was a kid before a matinee at the old Pagoda movie theater (long gone).
Hop Shing - Chatham Square
some of the best old school dim sum in Chinatown esp. the sticky rice chicken wrapped in leaf, yum, a complete meal.
This place is another time warp Chi-town throwback with huge take out crowds. The hai-kow, beef rice noodles, stuffed eggplant, and beef meatballs are personal faves. Not much on atmosphere but I'll take food like this anyday over some of the newfangled soulless hipster joints all over the East Village.
Jing Fong - Elizabeth Street
My pick for best dim sum in Chinatown, up the huge escalator (shades of long gone Silver Palace), to a cavernous dining room. Dim sum is uniformly excellent with great beef rice noodles, spring rolls, steamed ribs and the usual suspects. Pings is a close second.
Hoy Wong - Mott Street
Some of the best roast meat you'll find in Chinatown including great roast duck. This place is tiny but to my surprise rarely crowded. They do great seafood including great soft shell crabs, razor clams with black bean sauce and delicious salt pepper frog. Highly recommended.
JM Family Noodle - 19 Henry Street
Another hole in the wall/dive place but a local favorite for many years. Does a slam bang takeout business because locals know the food is good.
My standard here is seafood chow mein, tasty and filling. The noodles soups are impeccable as are the congees. Nothing like a big bowl of noodle wonton soup with roast pork on top.
HK Station -
I love this place, cheap filling and delicious noodle soups. Eons above the ramen places popping up like crazy and at half the price even with the works.
Some restaurants that I don't recommend:
Wo Hop - I don't get this place, though many of my co-workers swear by it. Greasy, heavy and overcooked old school "chop suey" type of food. Dumplings are the size of the softballs and heavily floured and fried.
Noodletown - I like Noodletown for certain items like congees but the wonton noodles is disgusting mostly due to the heavy ammonia stink on the noodles. Gah!! Not sure how the signature dish stinks like mop liquid but I'll pass on it, the ladies by the register are rude and crabby to regular and newbie alike, esp. the big one. Good seafood though.