October 21, 2010

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Special sauce and steamed buns
Dim Sum every day at Sunshine Oriental
By Angel Roy aroy@hippopress.com

Each wall in the dining room boasts a bold color — yellow, orange, blue.

Photos of blue sky scattered with clouds line the windows, facing in. A woman greets you by name with a big smile.

Tina Tan and her husband Young Zeng opened Sunshine Oriental on Loudon Road in Concord in June with hopes of introducing the city to the Chinese tradition of dim sum. Tan and Zeng first began offering dim sum — Chinese for “small portions” — only on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, as printed on their paper placemats, but that was before the dishes hit the ground running.

“Rock and roll,” said Mark Beauchesne, New Hampshire Fish and Game advertising and promotions coordinator, when Tan placed a plate of turnip cakes on the round table that he shared with Fish and Game and Department of Transportation staff.

“We would eat here every day — some weeks we do,” said Sandy Falicon, Fish and Game legislative and rules coordinator.

The fluffy square cakes, made with mashed turnip, are also spotted with Chinese sausage and shrimp. Chinese sausage, Beauchesne explained, is not the bright pink colored sausage found in stores, but a dry sausage cured with grain alcohol.

The many plates of dim sum, selected by Beauchesne, who has learned from Tan how to order the dishes in Chinese, fill the table quickly. Beauchesne recently took his mother to the restaurant so she could reminisce about her trips to Chinatown with her father, who was second-generation Chinese.

“There are some things you don’t forget — experiences and food,” Beauchesne said. “Dim sum is like a family thing — it gets loud — that’s the fun part.”

Steamed buns, which Beauchesne called a “lovely little gift,” soon arrived at the table. The buns, filled with barbecue pork, are difficult to make, Tan said, as the proper balance between flour and sugar needs to be found for the dough to rise properly.

“If they are too big, you will see the pork,” Tan said. “You have to balance that.”

It is the technical skills involved in creating dim sum dishes that Tan said usually limits the days it is offered by restaurants.

“If you serve it every day you have to prepare it every day — it’s a hard job, but we want to do that,” Tan said.

Many Chinese restaurants choose to offer dim sum only on weekends because people are likely to wait longer for dishes like deep fried sesame balls, steamed pork and shrimp dumplings and the spare ribs with black bean sauce, as all three take a minimum of 15 minutes to prepare and cook.

“You can’t rush the food,” Tan said. “We can’t just prepare it and steam it; we want our food to be more fresh.”

Other popular dim sum dishes include steamed shrimp dumplings, grilled bean curd sheets rolled with shrimp, pork soup with rice noodles and deep fried shrimp taro patties. Traditional sticky rice is served wrapped up in a lotus leaf purse. The only visible difference between the sticky rice, called Nuo Mi, and steamed white rice, Tan said, is that the Nuo Mi grains are longer. The rice is blended with Chinese sausage, chicken, mushroom, pork, shrimp and a special sauce before it is steamed in the leaf, Tan said. Tan would not reveal the ingredients in the restaurant’s special sauce.

“I can’t tell you too much about it because it is a recipe and also because my husband makes it,” she said.

In addition to dim sum and sushi, Sunshine Oriental’s menu boasts other unique offerings created using both family and traditional Chinese recipes. Most of the chef specials are Cantonese-style, Tan said.

Unusual dishes include beef tripe, chicken feet and pork intestines. The tripe (cow stomach) is served either boiled with a special homemade sauce or with pickled mustard greens. The chicken feet are served fried, and the pork intestines with pickled mustard greens.

“We want to introduce them to authentic food, but it takes time,” Tan said.

To better help those unfamiliar with Asian dishes select at meal, photos of the restaurant’s offerings hang above the counter.

“People can order through their eyes,” Tan said.

All dishes at the restaurant are cooked by Zeng and Tan’s father. Zeng, Tan said, dropped out of school at 16 and has been cooking for almost 50 years now.

“He doesn’t like too much about reading, he likes cooking,” Tan said.

When Zeng’s uncle, a well-known chef in China, moved to the United States, Zeng followed him, wanting to learn how to cook Japanese food and make sushi.

Opening a restaurant, Tan said, was has been a dream of Zeng’s. Before the pair married, Tan said, Zeng told her how much he liked to make and serve food. She saw how helpful he was working for other people at their restaurants and that he knew how to make good Chinese and Japanese food.

“Young has worked very, very hard,” Tan said. “It has been his dream for a long time. That is why we have to try our best.”


Sunshine Oriental Restaurant
121 Loudon Road, Concord, 228-0808
Hours: Sunday 11:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.- 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.


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9/23/2010 Vegetarian: ‘not as scary as it sounds’
9/16/2010 It's Glendi!
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9/2/2010 Chili Week sets a hot stage
8/26/2010 Finding the fun in food
8/19/2010 Cutting remarks
8/12/2010 The world in your cup
8/5/2010 A world of food in Manchester
7/29/2010 Fun fair food from fruit to frappes
7/22/2010 Food for folks
7/15/2010 Mexican in Manch
7/8/2010 Kugelfest or falafelpalooza
7/1/2010 It's pizza from Portland
6/24/2010 A millyard dog
6/17/2010 Lamb on the grill, lamb on the skewer
6/10/2010 Take some ribbing
6/3/2010 Taste is everything
5/27/2010 Taste time in Nashua
5/20/2010 Gluten-free bread, but noone has to know
5/13/2010 Shaker Village gets a new restaurant

5/6/2010 Mother's Day meals
4/29/2010 3C's makes a move
4/22/2010 Welcome to the Pattie Shack
4/15/2010 Move over calzones
4/8/2010 A taste of Boston on the West Side
4/1/2010 Sunday's best
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3/18/2010 Coffee and creativity
3/11/2010 Where to wear the green
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1/14/2010 The co-op movement grows
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12/31/2009 New eats and more beer
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12/17/2009 Foodie gifts for 2009
12/10/2009 Microbrew heaven in the east
12/3/2009 Key ingredient: New Hampshire wine

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11/19/2009 Barbecue all year
11/12/2009 Ciao Italia at Cotton
11/05/2009 Hops in Hooksett
10/29/2009 A 200-pound meatball in Concord?

10/22/2009 Hops in Hooksett
10/15/2009 A sweet little spot in the Capital City

10/8/2009 30 restaurants, one stop
10/1/2009 T-Bones: 22 new dishes for 25 years
9/24/2009 Sausage seller settles in
9/17/2009 Glendi means good times
9/10/2009 Sunny Side Up in Concord
9/3/2009 The night of 26 restaurants

8/27/2009 Milltowne at the airport
8/20/2009 Feast Day for all
8/13/2009 Beyond tacos

8/6/2009 Cooling off with a cone
7/30/2009 And the sippin is easy ...
7/23/2009 South of the border west of the river
7/16/2009 the food is the best part
7/9/2009 Today Pittsfiled, tomorrow the world
7/2/2009 The art of the sandwich

6/25/2009 Kitchens then and now
6/18/2009 Treat dad to something special

6/11/2009 Newly minted
6/4/2009 It's a stretch
5/28/2009 A South End tradition continues in Concord
5/21/2009 Nibbling through downtown
5/14/2009 Gyro, pastichio or spanakopeta?
5/7/2009 Give the gift of nobody doing dishes
4/30/2009 A Taste of old favorites, new dishes
4/23/2009 A week of eats in Manchester
4/16/2009 So happy together
4/9/2009 After candy, brunch and diner
4/2/2009 All made right here
3/26/2009 A sappy story
3/19/2009 Five-course trip to Lebanon
3/12/2009 Irish meals
3/5/2009 Get a peice of the farm

2/26/2009 Before late night eats,an evening at the pub
2/19/2009 Drinks with Dan Akroyd

2/12/2009 Crooked Birch branches out
2/5/2009 Dinner with your sweetheart
1/29/2009 Food for the 50-yard line
1/22/2009 Artisan bread at The Good Loaf

1/15/2009 "Fold, mush, turn"
1/8/2009 Once upon a time at a bistro...
1/1/2009 Zacky's to go
12/25/2008 2008 in small bites

12/18/2008 Manchestert brewing opens in Concord
12/11/2008 Delicious gifts for the foodie
12/4/2008 New chef at UnWine'd
11/27/2008 Corks pops at BVI
11/20/2008 Big plates, big food
11/13/2008 IPA first prize

11/6/2008 You want it? He'll bring it.
10/30/2008 Cooking up a mystery
10/23/2008 Running with the bulls
10/16/2008 Like grandma made it
10/9/2008 The flavor of Concord
10/2/2008 Indie donuts rising

9/25/2008 Buy a bowl, feed the hungry
9/18/2008 Oktoberfest — for a cause
9/11/2008 A slice ofGreece, Asia, France...
9/4/2008 Flavors of Manchester
8/28/2008 D.I.Y. sausage
8/21/2008 Summertime and the living is chilli
8/14/2008 Weekend of festivals
8/7/2008 Going for pizza gold
7/31/2008 Red and juicy, from vine to table
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7/10/2008 Pupusas, cervesa y batidos
7/03/2008 3C's Cafe opens in Highlander Inn
6/26/2008 Oh, tartar sauce!
6/19/2008 From farm to grill
6/12/2008 450 pounds of lamb
6/5/2008 Travel the culinary world at BVI
5/29/2008 Chocolate throwdown
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5/15/2008 Local, gluten-free and ready made
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8/16/2007 Festival weekend
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01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
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A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days
Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch