Inspired by a lively discussion on beef noodle soup on the recent Dumpling Inn thread (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478107), I decided to head to Shanghai City to check out their version. First and foremost, the beef noodle soup IS better than Dumpling Inn's. The broth was richly flavored with beef and spices. The noodles were a tad undercooked, but not terribly so. The beef was pretty good. However, the broth is the most important part and it was very good.
Unfortunately, it was the only bright spot to our meal. We also ordered the Shanghai style pork spareribs and the potstickers. In past experience, the pork spareribs are lightly fried and coated with a sticky sweet sauce. The best version I've had of it, the sauce is sweet, but not cloying, and there isn't a lot of it. Shanghai City's version consisted of fatty chunks of spareribs coated in a puddle of thick brown glop. The sauce was gelatinous and very sweet, making it almost inedible.
For our third dish, the potstickers were loosely wrapped and had very little flavor. Maybe we should have gone for the soup dumplings (xiao long bao).
The service was not that great, largely because they seated us next to three large (and loud) tables that were celebrating a birthday. The area was so cramped that they could barely reach us, so they came to us only to take our order and bring our food. We tried asking for water several times, only to have it come at the end of our meal.
I'd go back when it's quieter and have the beef noodle soup as an entree. We might have seriously ordered the wrong stuff on this visit.