Elevated Chinese Dining at W Suzhou's Suyan Restaurant

By Sophie Steiner, May 24, 2021

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The Place 

As the premier Chinese restaurant of the W Suzhou, Suyan offers regional agnostic, high-end Chinese cuisine, focusing most specifically on Cantonese and Jiangsu specialty dishes. This year, Suyan was also awarded the prestigious Black Pearl Diamond, becoming a 2021 One Diamond Restaurant. 

Image courtesy of W Suzhou

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Consistent with the rest of the hotel, Suyan’s interior décor, designed by Hong Kong-based AB Concept, blends together local cultural elements in a contemporary, chic manner. A bold red, knotted wall display greets guests at the reception and is mirrored again in the main dining room, while six-sided lamps hanging from the ceiling mimic silk spools. Other red, black and silver detailing is found throughout, along with an elaborately colorful floor-to-ceiling-fabric tapestry at the entrance. 

Image courtesy of W Suzhou

Situated on the 34th floor of the modern W Suzhou, with sprawling panoramic views across the Jinji Lake, diners can enjoy the Chinese classics redefined in a sleek, sophisticated presentation that showcases the magnificence of local flavors prepared with global gourmet sensibilities. 

The Food 

Mixed Celery Salad (RMB98), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Bean Sprouts Soaked in Fish Soup (RMB168), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Chinese Executive Chef Lee Zhang channels his 18 years of experience when designing seasonal menu items, drawing inspiration from rounds at the local market. Zhang follows closely the motto of “eating in season,” which explains why selecting fresh, seasonal produce is a big part of his daily routine. This translates to full flavor, rich dishes that honor traditional recipes while simultaneously taking their own creative liberties. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Starting off with the cold dishes, the refreshingly light Marinated Seafood (RMB118) is a tower of mantis shrimp, prawns, surf clams and edamame, drizzled with sweet rice wine. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

One of the restaurants’ most photographed courses, the Hazelnut Goose Liver Pate (RMB118) sees the pate formed into three globes, encased in a thin jelly, one made from citrusy orange and the others from beetroot, adding a tart pop to cut through the richness. Crispy, pan-fried spring onion pancakes serve as the ideal vessel for shmearing the foie gras. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The signature Deep-Fried Prawns (RMB318) are cooked to perfection, with a snappy chew in every bite. Bulbous in size, almost like a small lobster, the prawns are lightly fried, then dribbled in addictingly tangy wasabi mayonnaise dressing. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A steaming, comforting bowl of Vegetarian Soup (RMB78), laden with chunks of fresh golden and bamboo fungus acts as a palette cleanser to prepare guests for the flavor onslaught that will soon arrive. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A noteworthy Jiangsu cuisine dish, Pyramid Braised Soy Pork (RMB268) is composed of translucently thin layers of pork belly, braised in sweet, aromatic soy sauce and then slowly steamed for hours so that the fat melts into a luscious cream on diners’ tongues. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Stacked into a pyramid shape, the pork belly encases a mound of slowly braised bamboo shoots and sits atop a flowering display of steamed bok choy.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The dish is served with pillowy soft pumpkin mantou buns, ready to be stuffed with all of the ingredients on the plate and consumed like a tasty sandwich. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Suyan’s elevated alternative to the UK’s fish and chips is the Braised Cod Fillet (RMB218). Symmetrical cubes of flaky cod meat are battered and fried, served in a roasting claypot packed with bubbling soy sauce, basil and garlic cloves. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Tender and juicy, the Wok-Fried Diced Beef Tenderloin (RMB258) arrives slathered in a sticky sweet soy sauce, interspersed with crisp garlic chips, spring onions and crunchy water bamboo. 

DSC01780.jpgFried Rice (RMB128) green vegetables, egg white, black truffle, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A meal is never complete without a sweet ending, and the Strawberry Ice Cream (RMB48) ticks the box in the best of ways. Encased in a beetroot jelly exterior, and adorned with an actual strawberry top, the ice cream is dense and buttery. Remove the lid to find a luscious strawberry smoothie below, dotted with juicy, diced strawberries and basil seeds to provide both a flavor and textural contrast. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Unlike most typical Chinese restaurants, Suyan claims its own bar, serving up unique cocktail creations named after Suzhou destinations, like Tiger Hill, Panmen Gate and The Lion Grove Garden. The Humble Administrator Garden (RMB108) sees smooth Kavalan whisky blended with apple and cinnamon, Campari infused with 10-year aged orange peel, fresh apple and lemon juice and chocolate bitters for a booze-forward, spiced sip. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Featuring a light baijiu infused with salted plum, the Lingering Garden (RMB108) is a tart blend of plum wine, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup and egg white powder, highlighting key Chinese flavors. 

The Vibe 

The venue sees a mix of business travelers, celebrating families and couple dates, maintaining a lively atmosphere in an elegant setting. As the menu rotates seasonally, new dishes are commonly sought after, but many of the signature dishes remain for repeat guests that regularly return for their favorite bites.

While Suyan may be a secret to many Westerners outside of Suzhou, the superior ingredients, exquisite presentation and overall attention to detail make it a must-visit destination for anyone.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

See a listing for Suyan.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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