Joe Shanghai

By grace.g.yang ยท July 28, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Chinatown,Dinner,My Life

I’m surprised I’ve never written about Joe Shanghai considering I go here so often. The first time I went to Joe Shanghai, I had just moved to New York (almost three years ago!) and my cousin, Andrew, happened to be visiting from Korea. He took me to Joe Shanghai with some of his friends because he wanted to get soup dumplings like the ones we grew up with in Taiwan (at Ding-Tai-Fung). I didn’t know anything about the city, so of course I tagged along for soup dumplings and other Chinese food. I wasn’t very impressed with their crab soup dumplings, but the pork soup dumplings were very similar to the ones I had eaten in Taiwan the summer before moving to New York. I’ve been back many times (David and I really like the place) and we usually end up going to dinner there on Sunday nights after my yoga class. The waiters and hostesses are not the friendliest, but they’re efficient and turn tables really quickly (partially due to the fact that most people have to share tables with strangers). When we go, we usually order the soup dumplings (right away) and then order various dishes from the menu. On this particular trip, we ordered turnip cakes:


The turnip cakes have a crispy and flaky outer shell while the inside is filled with shredded turnips and other vegetables:


My friend Sara is a huge fan of them, but I think I ate too many when I was a kid so I don’t like turnips that much anymore.

Our first order of soup dumplings (we usually get two orders so everyone can have more than 2 dumplings):


The dumplings are filled with pork and really fatty pork juice (yum-oh!). You have to be really careful when you pick them up because one wrong poke of the tongs and you have a soupy mess on your hands. I like to bite a little bite into my soup dumpling, pour in some soy sauce with ginger, drink the juice, and then eat the pork and the dumpling. Everyone has their own way of enjoying the soup dumplings and you’ll see everyone at the table trying to eat them a different way.

The soup dumplings are very inexpensive ($5 for 8, I think), but we always order a couple of other dishes because the dumplings definitely don’t fill us up. We usually order string beans with minced pork and pickled vegetables:


The string beans aren’t as good as the ones you order at Big Wong (on Mott) but they have a good flavor and are sauteed with little pieces of pork. There is definitely a ton of pork being consumed at Joe Shanghai.

My mom introduced us to a new dish, nian-gao with pork (sticky rice cakes with pork):


I grew up eating nian-gao in hot pots, soups, and during the winter. There’s something about the sticky and chewy consistency that I really love.

We also ordered some baby pea sprouts the last time we visited because I was still hungry and had gone through all of the other dishes (I blame it on the yoga, but in reality, it’s just because I eat a lot):


Sara and I were big fans of the pea sprouts and Sara even said she could eat them all the time – they were very crunchy and had just a little salt and garlic.

I go to Joe Shanghai all the time because they’re usually open pretty late and the food comes out quickly. Sara asked how many Grace Face’s I was going to give the place – I said four and she seemed a little shocked that I wasn’t giving it a Grace’s Pick. I would, but I really dislike their hostesses – one time, my cousin came to town and we were literally the first ones in the restaurant but the hostess made us sit right under the air conditioning vent and wouldn’t allow us to move (there was literally no one else in the restaurant and she couldn’t come up with a reason as to why we couldn’t move). If you don’t mind the rude hostesses, head over to Joe Shanghai with cash (and, they calculate an automatic 15% tip so you don’t even have to worry about figuring out a tip after you’ve filled up on soup dumplings!)

Joe's Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Reader Comments

Love this place. I went there for the first time a little after Christmas 2008. The line was sooo long. Whenever I go back to NYC, I always make it to Joe’s. Good and cheap eats.

Written By Narise on July 28th, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

Love the food, but the place is not kid-friendly at all. The staff will rush you and will be very rude during dinner hours. I would love to go back as soon as I find a dependable babysitter.

Written By Joon on July 29th, 2009 @ 10:19 am

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