Saturday, May 26, 2007

Jinyesi, Nanmen Rd, Suzhou

Jinyesi, Nanmen Rd, Suzhou
Saturday 26 May, 2007

Today we did a day trip to Suzhou -known for its silk, gardens and grand canal.

Suzhou is located in the center of the Yangtze Delta. Since 42% area of the city is covered by water, including a vast number of ponds and streams, Suzhou is praised as the 'Oriental Venice'. The city is cut by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal from north to south which is 1800km long. Built in 514 BC, Suzhou is an ancient city with a 2500 years' history.

After a boat ride through the canals and a peak into some of the local homes that hang over the canal we were taken to the impressive sounding Suzhou No. 1 Silk Factory. Built in 1926 it is a state firm with over 300 workers. It's set up for tourists so you can take a tour of the factory (just a few OH&S issues jumped out at us as we wandered through the factory and were invited to put our hands in scalding water to retrieve a cocoon or handle heavy machinery - bizarre!) and dine at their restaurant which offers Western and Chinese cuisine. Our guide Irene attempted to take us into the very ordinary looking Western restaurant but this wasn't going to happen so we explained that we were here to eat Chinese food.

Not long afterwards we were directed into the Chinese restaurant and invited to take a seat in a private room with or very own waitress wearing a gorgeous silk dress. We realised very quickly that no menus would be provided so Irene had to do a deal with the waitress to secure some dishes. These all arrived in quick succession:

- Salt & pepper prawns
- Beef in pepper sauce
- Sweet & sour fish
- Green beans
- Sauteed cabbage

The prawns were a sight to behold - a plate of prawns cooked in their shells piled high and sprinkled with salt & pepper. It was an interesting take on the dish we know and love at home and very, very fiddly to remove the shells. Once the shells were removed the sprinkles of salt & pepper has disappeared. The beef was average came served with large strips of capsicum, the fish was OK and was served in heavy fried batter and the vegetables were good.

Overall, a very ordinary experience but it kept us energised for an afternoon walk through the Humble Administrator's Garden which is 500 years old and set over 5 ha.

Jinyesi - 94 Nanmen Rd, Suzhou - T: 86 512 6525 1047


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