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Otis Foster's Profile

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Cheng Du Kitchen, Manchester N.H.

I tried it last night - strange-flavor chicken, green beans and fried rice with Chinese sausage. I'm not an expert in Sichuan cuisine and forgot to order "ma-la" although I did ask for it extra spicy.

I thought the chicken was delightful - some very interesting and very fresh vegetables in the mix, the chicken was tasty and not at all stringy and the sauce was light years removed from the usual glop you get in southern NH, strong winey taste without unpleasant sweetness, no thickeners used.

The fried rice was quite light despite the sausage, and was tasty. The green beans trailed the others, a little less well-cooked than I would have thought, almost al dente, and not particularly interesting. The servings are quite large, bordering on the huge. I have more than enough for a second meal.

There is a separate one-sheet menu I never got to see till after I ordered - from memory, salt and pepper shrimp and a wider selection of pork and lamb dishes.

All in all, easily the best Chinese in the area AFAIK, maybe not saying much when your competition is Szechuan House, Chen Yang Lee and the like. Still, well worth a visit, hope they get enough traffic to stay open.

Republic Cafe in Manchester, NH

Ed and Claudia are totally committed to the use of high quality local products. It's a wonderful place for vegetarians (my wife being one) and a welcome opportunity for carnivores (me) to see what life is like on the other side. The restaurant (bistro, really) has an informal air, but the service is gracious and professional, none of that "Hi, my name is Matt, I'm your server and here's my life story...." And no-one hustles you off your table to maximize turns.

Try the chicken confit, the arancini or the kefta appetizer, or the falafel-encrusted fish, really a riff on fish and chips. I can't recommend it highly enough.