WHO’S IN CHARGE Sun Shui offers Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine, but owner Laura Sun is particularly proud of the restaurant’s authentic Chinese food.
“One of my chefs comes from Shanghai and another from Szechuan,” said Sun, the former owner of Shanghai Osaka in Nashua, whose voice still holds the music of her native Beijing.
She’s justifiably proud of her two-year-old restaurant’s authentic cuisine, but she’s not averse to Chinese-American classics. When we chatted at the Bedford, N.H., location, she said she’d been in the kitchen until midnight the night before making the sauce for General Tso’s chicken, an American “Chinese” standard not known in her native land, but enjoyed by many in her adopted country.
“It’s not about the heat,”she said. “It’s all about the spices.”
THE LOCALE Sun Shui is situated in a small mall on South River Road in the Manchester suburb. When you enter, you are greeted by a small waterfall in keeping with the restaurant’s name, Sun Shui, or “Sun’s water.” It’s a small place that seats about 50 at a sushi bar, a half dozen tables, and several booths. A manekineko, or “beckoning cat,” a traditional Japanese good luck charm, looks down on the bar.
ON THE MENU The choices are extensive and include the usual Japanese dishes like maki, sushi, teriyaki, and udon; Chinese dishes including lo mein, moo shu shrimp, and tangerine beef; and Korean favorites like bibimbap in several preparations such as kimchi, beef, chicken, pork, and seafood.
But unlike so many other Asian restaurants that offer more than one ethnic cuisine, Sun Shui does them all well.
We started our meal with steamed edamame ($4.95), miso soup ($2.50), wonton soup ($2.50), and spring rolls ($3.95).
The edamame and miso were standard, but the wonton was above average with delicate dumplings floating in a fragrant broth. The spring rolls were also special: extra crispy with finely shredded veggies within.
Our sushi fan ordered tuna roll ($5) and shrimp tempura roll ($8.95), both of which he deemed up to his high standards.
We ordered some traditional American/Chinese fare: chicken lo mein ($7.95), home-style tofu ($6.95), and (all white meat) General Tso’s chicken ($11.95). They were all extraordinary – especially the chicken that arrived crispy and sizzling at the table – flavorful with just the right amount of spice.
But we were also at Sun Shui for their reputed authentic Chinses cuisine. We were not disappointed.
The regular menu has an authentic section including calamari with smoked tofu, green and red peppers and a black bean sauce ($11.95); Szechuan spicy fish filet with mixed vegetables and black bean sauce ($14.95); shells-on crispy shrimp with salt pepper sauce ($15.95); and more than a dozen other dishes.
We were also given a hand-printed, separate menu with more authentic selections, including the Chinese meatball with Shanghai bok choy ($12.95). The dish arrived with four pork meatballs the size of baseballs on a bed of bright green fresh baby bok choy, bathed in a savory brown sauce that was spicy, but not hot.
We left feeling a return visit was in order because it’s unusual to get Chinese food that tastes homemade.
Sun Shui, 401 South River Road, Bedford, N.H. 603-626-6181; www.sunshuinh.com .
Tom Long can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .