Regional Chinese Cuisine in New York

Next month I'm going to China (lucky me!). While I've been eating Chinese food as long as I can remember, I figure that I should do a little homework before I go. Delicious, delicious homework. The topic? Regional Chinese cuisine. I've learned that saying you're going to China is a bit like saying you're going to Europe. It's not going to be one unified experience, and the food is going to differ wildly from city to city.

Here's the itinerary:
Shanghai
Beijing
Xian
Chengdu
Hangzhou.

OK, so not especially original, but there's nothing wrong with seeing these cities for the first time, right?

So, where in New York should I go to get a taste of what I'm going to be eating over there? Some obvious ideas would be to try Shanghai soup dumplings (_still_ never had these, but I'm taking a soup dumpling-making class while I'm in Shanghai, OK?). Also, Xian Famous Food. Others?

And on a side note, if anyone would like to suggest some amazing dining experiences they had while in these cities that I might want to replicate, feel free to chime in.

Thanks!

Christopher

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