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Dining In Suzhou

The formal Suzhou style banquet is renowned throughout China. It is made up of many Suzhou signature dishes. The most famous of them is Squirrel-Shaped Mandarin Fish.
Local Specialties:
Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish (Song Shu Gui Yu)
The Squirrel-shaped Mandarin Fish is characterized by its lack of bones and soft meat. The name is derived from the dish’s resemblance to a squirrel. The meat of the fish is made to protrude outwards like the fur of a squirrel. The placement of the fish and the red sauce poured over it also adds to its resemblance.
The fish is deep fried to give it a beautiful fragrance, while the meat inside is soft and fresh. The sweet and sour sauce further enhances its flavour, making this a mouth-watering and appetizing dish!
Whitebait Soup
Whitebait Soup is another typical dish in the Suzhou banquet.
This light and delicious soup is features the soft textured whitebait as its main ingredient. Ham, bamboo slices, green vegetables in the soup adds to its aromatic taste.
Biluo Shelled Shrimps
Biluo Shelled Shrimps is named after Bi Luo Chun tea, which is produced in Suzhou and is arguably the finest green tea.
This dish is prepared using Bi Luo Chun tea leaves to flavour the shrimp, giving the dish its unique taste.
Watermelon Chicken
Watermelon Chicken is unique in look and taste. The chicken is first braised, then marinated in a watermelon. The final result is a dish with both sweet and savoury flavours.
Taihu Boat Dishes
In addition to these formal banquet dishes, Taihu Lake in Suzhou also offers a unique array of seafood dishes.
With Taihu lake in the backdrop, you can experience what is known as Taihu Boat Dishes. Taihu Boat Dishes dates back to the Tang Dynasty, which is over 1,000 years ago. Officials and merchants would hold banquets on boats at the lake, enjoying the beautiful scenery while feasting. Since 1994, Boat Dishes have become a well established tradition in Guangfu town, at the eastern bank of the lake.
Currently, there are 13 boat restaurants along the fishing harbor at Taihu Lake. The wide variety of seafood available includes the well known Steamed White Fish, White Shrimps and Whitebait.
Taihu Lake white Fish
White fish is a specialty of the Taihu Lake. It is steamed with shredded ginger and red and green peppers. The dish is wonderful in texture, look, aroma and of course, taste.
Cracking Eel Paste
Cracking Eel Paste, is another Suzhou dish. The eel paste is made with rice field eels being broiled, stir-fried or quick-boiled.
The word cracking refers to the cracking sound of oil still present when the dish is served right out of the kitchen.
Jiasohuazi (beggar's ) chicken
About this famous Jiaohuazi(beggar's) chicken, there appears a lot of legends and stories, of which this one is most widely-known. A long time ago, a beggar passed a small village of Changshu, Suzhou. One day, he got a chicken and wanted to cook it for dinner. However, with no kitchen wares or any flavoring, it seemed to be impossible to cook it. Finally, the beggar arrived at the foot of Yushan Hill and killed the chicken with the intestines eviscerated and mud and weeds covered before putting it over the fire. When cooked, he stripped the mud and weeds and enjoyed the savory chicken meat.
Tips: when enjoy the delicious Jiaohuazi(beggar's) chicken, one can add some sesame oil together with sweet soybean paste and raw scallion, which could make the taste even better. Do remember to eat when it is hot.
Suzhou Snacks
If you have sweet tooth, Suzhou has various snacks to impress and satisfy your sweet desires. Some of these snacks may not appear in large restaurants but you will definitely be able to find them in ordinary snack booths or shops.
Green Dumpling Snack
Green Dumpling is a special food during April. It is made from glutinous rice, the green colour is from the juice of bromegrass which takes you a fresh taste, and the filling is made from sweetened bean paste and sugar.
Pan-fried Steam Buns
It’s classical, fantastic, wonderful, unexceptionable, terrific and awesome. In fact, shengjian mantou (生煎馒头, Shengjian mantou) is not a kind of steamed bun but stuffed bun. Shengjian mantou is fried on a big pan in shallow oil, so the bottom of shengjian mantou is very crisp and tasty. The most wonderful part is the filling which select and use leg meat of the hog. The secret of the dainty lies in the meat jelly which is mingled with the filling. After the frying, jelly is melted into juice, so it’s absolutely tasty.
Enjoying the shengjian mantou you need some skills. The mantou just off the fried pan is very hot, you should take care of your mouth and tongue. The right way is use your tooth to tear a small hole on the top and sip off the delicious meat juice carefully, the last step is eating up the mantou.
Paopao Wonton Dumpling Soup
Wonton is a classical snack in South China, paopao wonton is the favourite for girls in Suzhou. The fillings usually use pork and shrimp and not filled too full, the remaining space is left for the air.
Suzhou style noodles
Suzhou style noodles is very famous in the Yangtze River Delta area. The same as Japanese Ramen, Suzhou style noodles emphasize the soup too. Soup is the soul of the noodle. The different is Suzhou local noodle use fine noodles not the thick noodles in Japan. Due to the different colour of the soup, there are red soup noodles and white soup noodle. Also, the toppings (in Chinese it is called jiaotou 浇头) are important too, you can choose chop steak, smoked fish, peeled prawns, eel paste or something else as your toppings.
Suzhou style mooncakes
Mooncake is the traditional snack during the Mid-Autumn Day. Suzhou style mooncake is very special in China. It is pan fried with pork as the special filling. Other styles of mooncakes use fillings like sweetened bean paste, yolk, lotus and pineapple. The savoury taste and pork filling makes this Suzhou style mooncake unique.
Sweet dried bean curd
Sweet dried bean curd is a typical Suzhou snack, tasting juicy and sweet. Both local citizens and overseas travelers are fond of its unique taste. If you want to bring some local specialties home, this one must be included on your list.
Sesame Cakes Filled with Jujube Paste
Sesame Cakes Filled with Jujube Paste in Chinese is called Zao Ni Ma Bing. There is a interesting legend about the birth of Zao Ni Ma Bing. This story is about the business should be honest towards customers and keep quality of the products. By this way, his / her business will be flourishing.
Suzhou Preserved Fruits
Suzhou locates near Tai Lake, so it teems with plum, apricot, loquat, waxberry, peach, golden orange, etc. It provides rich raw materials to the production of confects. It is popular from the Three Countries Dynasty. In Qing Dynasty, the confects are famous at home and abroad. It is sweet and refreshing. It is suitable for the old and the young.
Best Recommendation:
Not all the visitors come to Suzhou purely for its elegant classical Chinese gardens; some others including me are here to investigate the great variety of Suzhou food. 
Suzhou cuisine is characterized by exquisite presentation and delicate flavors with subtle sweetness. Taking the famous Song Shu Gui Yu or Sushu Guyui (Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish) as an example. The chef spends a long time to carve the fish body into a chrysanthemum-like pattern not only for the final presentation but also for the meat to absorb the flavor from the sauce easily and evenly. Suzhou people are known for their eating specific dishes according to the changing seasons, probably due to their plenty of produce, easy climate and rich gastronomic culture.
Soochow Household Restaurant 吴地人家
ADDRESS:29 Ligongdi, Suzhou Industrial Park 工业园区李公堤29号
Phone:0512-6287 5888
It is the only restaurant whose theme is Kun Opera in Suzhou. It represents a genuine Suzhou-style elegance. It mainly serves visitors Suzhou-flavored dishes, including hand peeling shrimp and top-level court row.
Deyuelou Restaurant 得月楼
ADDRESS:43 Taijian Alley, Guanqian Street, Pingjiang District 平江区观前街太监弄43号
Phone:0512-6523 8940
It is a famous and time-honored Chinese restaurant. It serves over 300 kinds of dishes all year round and special seasonal dishes. Special offers include Deyue baby chicken, jujube paste cake and braised ham in honey source.
ADDRESS:42 Ligongdi SIP 园区李公堤42号
Phone:0512-6287 6668
Located on the scenic shore of Jinji Lake, Ligongdi Restaurant serves authentic Suzhou food at reasonable prices. Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the bank of the lake after your meal. It will definitely be a great experience.
Chuan Xing Tian Xia 川行天下
ADDRESS:1F Building 6, Tianmu Street W.,Times Square, SIP 园区时代广场天幕西街6幢1层
Phone:0512-6696 6236
The restaurant offers Sichuan-style cuisine, which is well-known for its spicy taste. Famous dishes include bass and bullfrog.
Chunlei Teahouse 春蕾茶馆
ADDRESS:118 Gong Alley, Guanqian Street, Pingjiang District 平江区观前街宫巷118号
Phone:0512-6770 9915
It is a time-horned teahouse which was founded in 100 years ago. Visitors can have traditional snacks and enjoy wonderful ballad singing performance.
HaiYi Seafood Restaurant 海逸海鲜酒家
ADDRESS:A2, Moonlight Pier, SIP 园区月光码头A2幢
Phone:0512-6936 7775
Located in the new Moon Harbor Development, Hai Yi Seafood Restaurant is a Hong Kong-style restaurant that provides typical Hong Kong cuisine such as shrimp dumplings, crispy durian cakes, and barbecued squabs. The prices here are very fair but the environment is not as good as other Hong Kong-style restaurants in Suzhou.
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