Are Soup Dumplings the Only Good Thing About Joe’s Shanghai?

Joe's Shanghai

For some random reason I was craving twice or double cooked pork last week (hmmmmm… pork belly.) The obvious choice seemed to be the version from Szechuan Gourmet (we do love us some Szechuan Gourmet around here), but what about Joe’s Shanghai? It’s pretty much an institution in Chinatown, but has only been mentioned on Midtown Lunch once. So to give it some love I decided to check it out.

Before heading to the restaurant, I went onto their website and checked their lunch special price which was $9.35.  But once I sat down and was handed the menu the actual lunch special price was $11.35. Damn you Joe!!!!! Since it came with a vegetable roll, soup and rice (and I was already there) I figured I could splurge just this once.

Twice cooked pork

Joe’s Shanghai’s version is cooked in a plum sauce, which sounded great- despite being anything like the twice cooked pork I’m used to. I love sweet and savory flavors together, but when the dish landed on the table it was not what I was expecting. Instead of leeks and beautifully cooked slices of pork belly, it had peppers, cabbage and pieces of pork that didn’t look like pork belly. And even though I did find out later that twice cooked pork can come with peppers and cabbage or leeks it didn’t matter. The cabbage, bamboo shoots and peppers were getting in the way of the pork- and the dish tasted mostly sweet. More pork and less veggies please?

Soup Dumplings

Of course going to Joe’s Shanghai I had to get an order of juicy buns/soup dumplings/xiaolongbao($6.50). Unlike the twice cooked pork dish, this was delicious. It was delicate, hearty and satisfying.

Has anyone been to Joe’s Shanghai and had something awesome besides soup dumplings? Maybe I should just stick with Szechuan Gourmet or Lan Sheng.

Joe’s Shanghai, 24 W 56th St (btw 5th+6th Ave), 212-333-3868


  • I definitely prefer the chinatown branch much more. The prices are more reasonable and I like the crazy chinatown ambiance. I haven’t eaten at the Midtown location in a while but I enjoy their eggplant in garlic sauce, bean curd szechuan style, and I really love their orange beef. They actually use meat that you can discern as meat in their orange beef.

  • I enjoy the Flushing branch but I’m definitely not a fan of the Chinatown one. The Zagat rating has gone to their head. Soup dumplings are good but not spectacular. I’m more than fine going to any of the other nearby Shanghai restaurants. On top of that, the long waits, sharing of tables, and worst of all, horrible service (and attitude) keep me from going.

  • Haven’t been there. Too nice looking. You should try Pearl’s Chinese. It’s on 7th around 48-49th. It’s next to Teriyaki Boy. Try their braised beef noodle soup or almost anything else. The soup won’t disappoint.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I live in Chinatown and absolutely refuse to go to Joe’s Shanghai when other places have soup dumplings that are just as good. The waitstaff is incredibly rude and the restaurant is so bent on turnover that you’re forced to share a table and then pushed out when you’re barely done eating. There are many other restaurants in Chinatown that are better than this.

    • I don’t mind sharing a table, especially one of those giant communal jobs. Isn’t that the purpose of communal tables?

      I agree with other things in this thread: the waitstaff is gruff, the soup dumplings are the only good thing they have, and I will add that the Chinatown location is FILTHY. It’s still worthwhile. The soup dumplings are one of the city’s best foods.

      • User has not uploaded an avatar

        They’re not really “communal” tables. In Chinese restaurants, they have the big tables for bigger parties, but when they don’t have a group of eight, many establishments will put several parties there instead of turn away business. I don’t have anything against sharing a table per se, but I feel that at Joe’s Shanghai, they don’t give you a choice of whether to share or to have a table to yourself. It’s all about turnover.

        I once ordered something there and when it arrived, I wasn’t familiar with it, so I started asking the waiter about it as he was cutting it up to serve and he basically barked at me, “THIS IS WHAT YOU ORDERED! DO YOU WANT IT OR NOT?!” To me, it’s not worthwhile, especially with Shanghai Cafe close by and a really excellent Sichuan place across the street.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Where is the best place to get soup dumps in NYC? I’ve been to Joe’s in midtown and feel like there are probably plays just as good but less expensive around. What’s everyones though on that?

    • I think Shanghai Cafe is the best in Manhattan. Nan Xian is you’re willing to travel to Flushing.

    • Agreed. Shanghai Cafe is a decent alternative. The soup dumplings are pretty solid, the place decently “clean” (for c-town standards) and you’ll usually be able to get a table.

  • the couple of times i’ve been at the flushing branch, i remember everything besides the soup dumplings being crap.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Try Nice Green Bo on Bayard. Just as good as Joe’s minus the wait. The fried fish at Joe’s is pretty slamming as well as the scallion pancakes.

  • Joe is my homeboy, the Flushing location. I definitely had my 5th grade birthday party there. The do nice things with bok choy and pan fried noodles. The turnip puffs are great when they are available. For me, their soup dumplings are the golden standard I judge all others by (pork not the crab version).

  • Going to Chinatown for soup dumplings is ideal but what about Midtown? Isn’t this a Midtown post? Anyway, I’ve been to John’s Shanghai (near Margon on 46th st & 7th Ave) and the dumplings were decent.

  • I liked the Crispy Duck and the Shanghai Style Flat Noodles at Joe’s. However, my favorite is the pork and crabmeat steamed juicy buns.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Joe’s in Chinatown is perhaps the worst chinese restaurant in NYC. There is nothing redeeming about it not even the soup dumplings. People go there because they are americanized and don’t know what they are eating. There are plenty of chinese people that fit this category as well. The last time I went (forced by friends), the noodle were pre-cooked so it was mush and the dumplings were cold. The other dishes were either over-starched or over-sauced to cover any sins. The reason why its the worst is bc they are rude (bc they are all local cantonese), and people expect it to be authentic and is not (vs take-out where you know what you are getting into). Go to one of the many others and for best quality go to Flushing. Joe’s in Midtown is slightly more serviceable.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      Yes Joe’s is decently Americanized. No one denies that. But this doesn’t change the fact that it’s still quite a good restaurant.

      Americanized Chinese food is a variation on what you might call ‘authentic’ Chinese food, which is, too, a misnomer since there is no actual “Chinese food” but rather regional Chinese cuisines in different areas of China.

      There is nothing wrong with a restaurant being Americanized Chinese I might add. There are good Americanized Chinese restaurants and bad ones.

      As for Joe’s. It is only somewhat Americanized…that is to say, the Americanization is found mostly in its preparation. In fact, most of the dishes on the menu are actual Chinese dishes that you would find in China. However, they are prepared with more sauce and less oil — aka in an “American” fashion. So you must acknowledge that, unlike ‘fully’ Americanized Chinese restaurants, Joe’s menu doesn’t contain made-up dishes with “Asian flavors” drummed up for the American palette.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Donny T:

    There are many good dishes at Joe’s. In fact, I prefer their main dishes, especially the Shanghaiese ones, to their Xiaolongbao.

    If you like sweeter dishes, their Prawns with Meat Sauce is excellent. Also don’t miss the Crispy Shredded Beef, a sweet Shanghai classic that they conjure up in a truly addictive way. For a more savory dish, the Braised Beancurd with Spinach & Minced Pork is a must-try. Lastly, for a basic vegetable, they do a very good DaoMiu aka Snow Pea Shoots with garlic.

    I must add, despite not being prepared to your liking, the Double-cooked Pork is, in my opinion, quite good as well (and not as sweet as you suggest).

    With these dishes you can’t go wrong.

    Also, quick note: I’ve found that the Chinatown Joe’s is far superior to the Midtown one. For some reason, the dishes don’t always come out the right way in the Midtown branch.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.