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Eat like a local: Suzhou

Date: 2012-10-21

Savor squirrel fish and 'three whites' of Taihu Lake

After visiting the city's beautiful gardens, try Song He Lou (mansion of the pine and crane) at Guanqian Jie. It is a restaurant with a long history, established in 1757.

The great fame of the eatery has to do with Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperor Qianlong, who is said to have appreciated its famous "squirrel fish" (pictured) when he visited. Other classic dishes are marinated duck, oily boneless eel, brown-braised pork chops and cherry pork.

Do not forget to try the restaurant's shengjianbao, sauteed baozi and aozaomian (noodles with broth and pork). The average bill is 150 yuan per person.
If you can, arrange a two-day stay at a farmer's house at Bright Moon Bay Village on Western Hill, an island located in the middle of Taihu Lake in Suzhou. The Jiangsu province village has a history of more than 2,000 years. A 1,200-year-old camphor tree, treasured by the locals, stands at the entrance to the village.

The village, with around 100 families and 400 people, used to thrive on selling tea, fruits and fishes. But tourism has taken off in recent years and many residents are running home stays and restaurants.

Taihu Lake is known for its "three whites", namely, white fish (pictured), white shrimp and a small, semi-transparent silver fish. At the village you can try wild vegetables, free-range chicken and eggs.

Do try the famous Biluochun (emerald spiral spring) green tea, with a particularly good fruity and flowery aroma.