Here's the thing about "Chinese food." It's not very representative of China. It's more like "Cantonese American Bachelor-Hardhat food." Because that's who invented it. But there are a lot of regions of China, and a lot of restaurants in New York that represent them, and here are a few of the better ones.
Congee is a kind of Chinese rice porridge or gruel; it comes in a hot iron crock and you add various sauces to it for flavor. I realize that doesn't sound particularly appealing, but if you to Congee Village, the city's biggest and most attractive congee restaurant, you'll soon see just how good gruel can be. I find it hard to believe I just wrote that sentence. If for some reason you are not in the mood for Congee there is a large non congee menu. And, to be fair, there are also various pre-flavored congees, such as duck and seafood, that require less commitment.
You can have three guesses what you should order at Peking Duck House, and here's a hint: it's not egg foo yung. A specialist in one (very difficult) dish, this is the place to go for laquered, slow-roasted pekin ducks, ceremonially sliced and served on a large platter, and accompanied by soft crepes, plum sauce, and scallions. Don't bother asking for a menu.
Though best known for its siu lim bao, or soup dumplings, Joe's is one of New York's best introductions to the cuisine of Shanghai, one of China's noblest cookeries.
Manhattan's east Chinatown has a plethora of Fujianese restaurants, but few better than this one, which specializes in soups (there are dozens on the menu) and esoteric seafood.
It would be impossible to untangle which of the city's "Grand Sichuan" restaurants are connected and which aren't. Which is why I just go to this one, my favorite. It has a huge menu of regional specialties, including my favorite tea-smoked duck in town.
Northern China has a large muslim population, which is one reason you won't find any pork here; lamb is the name of the game, and it's served in some of the most vivid and original ways you will ever see here.
Formerly an obscure stall in a Flushing food court, this offal specialist attracted first the attention of local bloggers, then Manhattan food writers, and finally Anthony Bourdain, whose praise led to a Manhattan outpost. Which is just as good (and weird) as the original.
Some people say Spicy & Tasty is the best Chinese restaurant in New York; others say it's just the best in Queens. Certainly if you are an admirer of hot Sichuan food, it doesn't get much better than this Flushing standby.
This kitchen produces regional Chinese food of uncommon quality and authenticity -- nothing like the take-out "Hunan" dreck frequently to be found on the menus you find slipped under your doorstep.