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"Our first dining experience here was bright and cheery, great food, exceptional service. Best of all, lunch and dinner plates are available all day. Our new favorite place."
 

"North Garden has the best food outside of Chinatown – even better than a lot of restaurants in Chinatown."

--Joan, Joel, & Ethan

"North Garden has been a favorite of ours for years. The food is consistently delicious, the wait staff are very welcoming, friendly & efficient. The 'no smoking' is especially attractive. It is a pleasure to eat here!"

--Tom & Deb O'Brien

 
 

"I think North Garden is a great place because it has good service and has awesome food."

--Nicole Looney, Age 11

"If ever you want good food, service, congeniality, be adventuresome. You won't be disappointed. They'll explain the menu. We've been regular customers for 5 years. It's our favorite."

--Michelle and Claire Leclerc

 
 

"One of the best restaurants I've eaten in – and I eat out several times a week! I only wish you were located closer to my home (Windham) because I'd be in often!



Secret's Out; North Garden Is Terrific
The Union Leader, Manchester, NH - Friday, January 24, 1997
By OUR GOURMET

"No secret is safe with the Gourmet – especially when it comes to scrumptious Oriental food. So, please, no mysteries...Gourmet will find it."
Read more...

North Garden serves Dim Sum 'to your heart's desire'
Neighborhood Publications, Inc. March 11, 1999
By James Cirillo, Staff Writer
"When the North Garden opened at its new location, its regular customers were treated to quite a different restaurant than the one they had been going to the previous five years." Read more...

North Garden: new location, same great food
Gourmet Section, The Union Leader, Manchester, NH; October 28-31 1999
OUR GOURMET
"When the North Garden – home of perhaps the West Side's best Chinese food – relocated down the street last year, locals thought it would be a good move. Larger quarters, newer surroundings, same great hosts, same great food." Read more...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secret's Out; North Garden Is Terrific - The Union Leader, Manchester, NH - Friday, January 24, 1997
By OUR GOURMET

No secret is safe with the Gourmet – especially when it comes to scrumptious Oriental food. So, please, no mysteries...Gourmet will find it.

Across the river from the hustle of Manchester is a tiny eatery which could be boasting some of the best Cantonese, Szechuan and Mandarin cuisine in the area.

And those people on the West Side tried to keep it a secret.

Hah!

The North Garden Restaurant on Mast Road (If you continue straight across the Kelley Street bridge, and straight across Mast Road, you'd darn near run into the front door) is on of those curious little restaurants that makes you wonder why it is where it is. With such food, larger could be better, but maybe the owners like to stay small and friendly and personally manageable.

Whatever, we love the food there, and often have brought full dinners home for a take-out feast and a game or a movie.

A real plus from North Garden is its Dim Sum menu, available in full Saturday through Monday (11am to 3pm) and on a limited basis other times (call ahead).

From custard egg tarts and deep-fried salty dumplings to steamed minced beef balls and steamed buns with mashed lotus nuts, Dim Sum is a wonderful way to sample all kinds of Cantonese delicacies at affordable prices for small servings (often, a serving of three).

We've tried all manner of steamed buns (moo-shu pancake-thin, bread-like buns steamed snow-white, filled with exotic stuffings) and recommend that Dim Sum rookies try whatever sounds good – but only one or two at a time.

Although meals can be made of Dim Sum, we suggest you decide what you like before going for quantity.

Other Dim Sum offerings include spareribs, chicken claws, sticky rice, shrimp patties, shrimp rolls, rice soup and rice noodles. Most are filled with various mixtures of beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp.

The stark contrast between Mast Road and the inside of the North Garden makes eating inside a real treat. It's real small, real cozy, and almost all booths, making for privacy. It's warm inside and the exotic aromas from the close-by kitchen fill the restaurant with the odoriferous ambiance that makes some gourmands feel as if they could eat a small goat – if it was properly prepared.


On one recent night, our party had a most enjoyable meal.
It was late (9:45 pm) and the owners were about to sit down for their own supper at 10. They hesitated with the new arrivals, but we said we'd be quick and no trouble. They graciously agreed to serve us, then turned off the outside lights and turned their sign to read "closed."

We started with an order of pan-fried Peking ravioli, which is our standard by which any Asian restaurant is judged. They are perfect at North Garden – crisped and made of ravioli that are on the thin side. That's important. Eating ravioli that is undercooked or too thick is like chewing wet plasterboard.

Crispy sesame chicken is one of the better dishes we've had from North Garden. It is delicately prepared – thin strips of deep-fried chicken, served attractively with broccoli and in a not-too-thick sesame sauce. The chicken is lightly battered, and the sauce is not overpowering, so the taste of chicken can be discerned. Often, these dishes come as deep-fried globs of something in a sauce that obliterates the meat.

Next up, an outstanding offering – two-flavored chicken – and two dishes in one. It is, on one side, a gently stir-fried medley of chicken strips with a variety of veggies in a very light brown sauce. A mild offering. On the other side is shredded Szechuan chicken in a spicy hot-chili sauce. We order this in conjunction with other main dishes, so we usually forego fried rice. But this could easily be a meal with fried rice for a couple.

Our very favorite dish at North Garden is House Special pan-fried noodles, which is a wild concoction of every available vegetable served on a bed of crispy fried lo mein noodles, which soften up as they absorb the vegetables' sauce. This dish is highly recommended, but for vegetable lovers, only.
For take-out, we've enjoyed another aspect of North Garden as much as the food – the service. When you call for an order, the service is professional, fast and friendly – they call you by name when you order and thank you by name when you pick it up, a nice touch in the service-oriented retail world.

Whenever we're hungry for Oriental food on the West Side, we make a bee line for North Garden.

So, faithful readers, keep the cards and letters coming, but don't trust me with your gastronomical secrets. Goffstown, Pinardville and the West Side learned a valuable lesson here, and the secret of North Garden is out.

 

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North Garden serves Dim Sum 'to your heart's desire' - Owners Wei Wen and Winnie Zeng move their five-year-old business to Mast Road in Goffstown - Neighborhood Publications, Inc. March 11, 1999
By James Cirillo, Staff Writer

When the North Garden opened at its new location, its regular customers were treated to quite a different restaurant than the one they had been going to the previous five years.

Formerly at the interstection of Mast Road and Kelley Street, Winnie and Wei Wen Zeng, owners of North Garden, renovated the building next to Mast Road's Jutras Signs and opened their new restaurant two days before Christmas 1998.

"We did it in 53 days, " Winnie said. "We have doubled the size and have a larger menu."

The Zengs have come a long way since buying the North Garden five years ago. Married for six years, Wei Wen has been a chef for 22 years, learning from Lou Kwon, a famous chef in his home city of Canton. Wei Wen was the head chef at Guang Dong Hotel for 10 years in Canton before marrying Winne and moving to the United States.

He then became the head chef at the Imperial Tea House in Boston's Chinatown.

"We took a big risk when we bought the restaurant," Winnie said. "We really needed to build up our customers."

The Zengs did that through their menu and low prices. They decided not to spend money on advertising but instead worked on the quality of food while keeping prices low.

"Our customers were all word of mouth," Winnie said. "Many of them have returned again and again because they liked the food."

Being close to both Saint Anselm College and New Hampshire College helped as well. Many of the Chinese students at New Hampshire College discovered the restaurant and kept coming back. Winne said they have tried to cater to the 2,000 to 3,000 Asian immigrants living in the Manchester area.

"I think satisfying the customers has been the most fun," Winnie said. "Being told how much they like your food is nice."

When the opportunity to renovate the 715 Mast Road property opened up last fall, the Zengs took another chance and renovated the building.

"I have to thank Gerry Perron of Granite State Plumbing and Heating," Winnie said. "We could not have gotten it done so quickly if it was not for him."

In less than two months the restaurant had tables, a lounge, full kitchen, bathrooms, new menus, a new paint job and decorations. Winnie said they wanted to make the second location classier and offer more food and drinks including the exotic punches and rum drinks Chinese restaurants are known for.

The Zengs also added Dim Sum to their menu. Meaning "to point to the heart's desire," Dim Sum cuisine goes back as far as the 10th century in China. These smaller dishes can only be found in Boston's Chinatown, according to the Zengs.

"This is the only place you can get it around here," Winnie said. "It's a way to set us apart from the other Chinese food restaurants in the area."

Competition is hot and heavy, especially in Pinardville which boasts of five Asian restaurants in a one-mile stretch.

"We believe that we have very inexpensive food at a high quality," Winnie said. "The old customers we had at our old place have come back. That has been great for the business."

 

 

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North Garden: new location, same great food - Gourmet Section, The Union Leader, Manchester, NH; October 28-31 1999
By OUR GOURMET


When the North Garden – home of perhaps the West Side's best Chinese food – relocated down the street last year, locals thought it would be a good move. Larger quarters, newer surroundings, same great hosts, same great food.

Indeed, all of those elements are in place at Wei Wen Zeng and Winnie Zeng's new location just west of the old place on Mast Road, at No. 715, and it seems a good move. Business is better, the Zengs say; they've hired additional wait staff; the new building and fancy new sign are significantly more visible and appealing to passers-by on Mast Road, and lots more people can now fit into the restaurant.

One slight drawback, however is that the feel of the old place is missing. No more funky orange leather booths, old carpeting, veneer-paneled walls with eclectic artwork, and air conditioners hanging out the windows. Now it is spacious and modern, electronically climate-controlled, and spanking new, with about triple the number of tables, an expanded liquor license, bustling and separated dining rooms, and new furniture.

Also, there is a small waiting area with chairs for take-out customers, a small bar, large new restrooms, and a spacious and modern new kitchen for master chef Zeng, who formerly was head chef of the Four Star Guang Dong Hotel in Canton, China, and head chef at the Imperial Tea House in Boston.

Try the food at North Garden for the first time, or again, and you'll come back and back. We bet you'll love the new place as well as the old.

House Special Pan Fried Noodles should be elevated to the House Specialties or Chef's Specialties or Must Try status, post haste. It is an outstanding value and a seriously delicious offering, and must have gotten its name because just about everything in the house is included.

For this tasty and filling meal (plenty for two) there are slices of beef and chicken, along with mushrooms, water chestnuts, carrots, shrimp, broccoli, baby corn, green peppers, pea pods and assorted Chinese vegetables, all served atop a heaping portion of pan-fried lo mein noodles and coated with a delicious light brown sauce.

If you try this dish in the restaurant, the noodles are going to start out crispy and golden brown – before the sauce takes to them. For take-out, the sauce coats the noodles on the way home and all noodles are soft by the time you sit down to eat. We prefer them soft, but in either case this is a dish that is a tried-and-true favorite. So many different tastes in each bite, and not overpowered even a bit by the sauce, allowing a dip of duck sauce for a bite with chicken, or a dip of hot sauce for a broccoli crown, or a dash of hot mustard on a morsel of shrimp.

There is no dish at North Garden we can recommend so unhesitatingly.

Along with chicken fingers, fried appetizers at North Garden are well represented by the traditional Pu Pu Platter for 2 (which easily feeds three or more), which at $13.95 is loaded with delicately fried egg rolls, chicken wings and shrimp, sauteed beef and chicken teriyaki and boneless spareribs. Sometimes there are specials for an order of crab rangoons or fried rice with a platter. The best of the Pu Pu bunch are the teriyaki and boneless spareribs, which are moist and tasty, and the ribs are served with plenty of their own sauce.

North Garden boasts an array of fresh vegetable accompaniments fit for any meal, all reasonably priced at $6.25. There is Szechuan String Bean with or without strips of fried pork, bean curd dishes, broccoli with oyster sauce, or our favorite, Green Jade, which we enjoyed this night along with the lo mein. The Jade features loads of very crispy green beans and peapods, along with fresh steamed broccoli, swimming in a house garlic and sesame sauce that is out of this world.

Curry Chicken is another dish we sampled, which must be added to Gourmet's favorites – loaded with onions and green peppers and a large portion of spicy Oriental curry-flavored chicken strips. Again, this dish and one other is plenty of food for two. The curry flavoring is a bit strong, but gives this exquisite dish its signature zing. It should not be made to compete with another strong or spicy dish – such as a hot, pepper-laden Szechuan dish – because it has a lasting flavor that is best enjoyed without conflict.

Curry Chicken was terrific this night with simple boiled white rice – and a bit of hot chili oil for an occasional blast. Seafood entrees at North Garden feature mostly shrimp and scallops, and shrimp dominates. A special Dim Sum menu is available, and Hot Pot Dishes feature T-Bone Steak Filet with mushrooms and bamboo shoots, Braised Beef with Turnip, Eggplant with Chicken and Garlic Sauce.

There also are combination dinner plates (count 'em – forty), Chef's Specials, some featuring special seafood dishes such as sea bass, squid, and gray sole, and others with tripe, steak, pork chops, pork intestines, and chicken gizzards.

New to the new North Garden is a full liquor license, replacing the previous beer-and-wine-only service. Full-fledged Scorpion Bowls, Mai Tais and other exotic Asian and Polynesian drinks are available. A couple can easily escape the North Garden with a bill of $40 or less, and for that amount it is a fine value for very dependable, quality food. Waiters are quick and polite and knowledgeable about the variety of offerings, and the surroundings are immaculate.

 

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