You may not be excited to hear about a Chinatown restaurant, but you have to try this place.
I've been to there a million times already, and I usually order the soup dumplings. Much, much better than Joe's- big meatballs inside those things, whereas Joe's look like deflated breasts, and very very fresh pork and crab taste.
But today I went and diverged a little more -- the most delicious Chinese lunch I've ever had: rice baked(?) in a clay pot with bits of bok choy, another green or onion, and a little bit of pork. It was very light, hardly any pork, with a great flavor. I also had the fried pork dumplings, which are fantastic there, with the vinegar dumpling sauce.
In general this place has great traditional Shanhainese food and fantastic soup and pork dumplings. They also have really good vegetable buns, and vegetable dumplings. None of the gumminess you get at some places with the rice wrappers.
In the past I've also tried the whole fried fish, which was pretty good (they debone it for you before frying but leave the head intact.) and the snow pea shoots which of course are great, and very light. i've also had the plain noodle soup when i was sick, and it made me feel better! you can tell a place is quality and clean when they can give you sick people food.
It also has most of the standard chinese-american influenced stuff, ie. lunch menu with sesame chicken. try to stick to the shanghainese stuff (lighter).
it's never busy at dinner but mobbed at lunch with people from the court district. However, even at lunch you never wait more than 5 min. for a table.
Shanghai Cuisine on the corner of Mulberry and Bayard.