December 30, 2018

SU Yan Restaurant at W Suzhou

SU Yan Restaurant at W Hotel Suzhou

SU Yan Restaurant (苏滟) is the premier Chinese restaurant of W Suzhou, offering nouvelle cuisine chinoise and focuses on Cantonese and Jiangsu cuisines. Located on the 34th floor of the hotel tower, SU Yan is the only Chinese restaurant in Suzhou which offers panoramic views of the city and of the nearby Jinji Lake.

SU Yan Restaurant at W Hotel Suzhou
Elevator Lobby | SU Yan Restaurant, W Suzhou

Designed by Hong Kong-based AB Concept, the interiors of SU Yan combines classic and modern elements of design, and in line with the design philosophy of W Hotels, local cultural elements are also blended into the overall design of the restaurant.

SU Yan Restaurant at W Hotel Suzhou
Reception Desk | SU Yan Restaurant, W Suzhou

Arriving at the reception, guests will be welcomed by a red feature wall inspired by the Chinese knot design. The interior also uses the classic red and black motif of Chinese restaurants but the design is executed in a very contemporary fashion.

SU Yan Restaurant at W Hotel Suzhou
Main Dining Area | SU Yan Restaurant, W Suzhou

The main dining area features furnishing that beautifully combines western and eastern design elements. The light fixtures are inspired by spools used in making Chinese silk. Other accent pieces such as foldable fans and bronze hairy crab ornaments become a common conversation starters among dining guests.

SU Yan Restaurant at W Hotel Suzhou
Main Dining Area | SU Yan Restaurant, W Suzhou

SU Yan Restaurant has a regular menu featuring all-time favorite Cantonese and Jiangsu dishes, while a special menu highlights local ingredients used in seasonal dishes. During my visit at SU Yan, I was able to sample dishes featured on the restaurant's autumn menu.

芝士焗土豆泥
Baked Baby Potato with Cheese

While waiting for our food, we were served with Baked Baby Potato with Cheese for amuse-bouche. I think the potato skin is filled with cheesy mashed potato and then baked, which explains why the inside was very tender and creamy.

Marinated Mantis Shrimp, Okra, Spicy Sauce
捞汁秋葵浸虾菇
Marinated Mantis Shrimp, Okra, Spicy Sauce

Next to be served was the Marinated Matis Shrimp with Okra and Spicy Sauce, which is a cold dish served as an appetizer. The mantis shrimps tasted very fresh with a sweet aftertaste. The spicy sauce had a lightly sour and sweet taste. I am not a fan of okra but I was able to eat some from this dish. The chef somehow was able to remove the slime from the okra, making it more palatable for me. This is good for sharing and is very addictive.

Water Shield Soup
莼菜蟹粉鱼圆 ,老鸡清汤
Double-boiled Fish Ball Soup, Crab Meat, Water Shield

Due to its intriguing ingredients, our group had a long discussion about this soup dish called Double-boiled Fish Ball Soup with Crab Meat and Water Shield. To start with, the fish ball had a very soft texture and the broth was very light and tasted very refreshing. Most interesting of all was the water shield, called chúncài (莼菜) in Chinese, which is an aquatic plant that grows in abundance in the lakes of Suzhou. When cooked in a soup, the leaves are coated with a natural gelatinous slime similar to aloe vera. People who are not used to Chinese cuisine might find this weird, but gelatinous texture is pretty common in Chinese dishes. This is definitely a must-try.

Pyramid Braised Pork
云上东坡醉千层 
Pyramid Braised Soy Pork, Bamboo Shoots, Steamed Pumpkin Pancake

An item from SU Yan Restaurant's regular menu is the Pyramid Braised Soy Pork with Bamboo Shoots and Steamed Pumpkin Pancake. This is an all-time favorite pork dish in Suzhou and in the whole Jiangsu province. The pork belly was braised in fragrant and slightly sweet soy sauce and steamed for hours until the fats become gelatinous. The pork belly is then thinly sliced and served in pyramid shape together with steamed bok choy. Pork slices are then sandwiched between steamed pumpkin pancakes. The pork was very flavorful, slightly salty and sweet while the fats just melt in your mouth as soon as you chew on them. Despite being a fatty dish, it did not feel greasy in your mouth. You should never leave SU Yan Restaurant without trying this dish!

Steamed Taihu Lake White Fish
鸡油花雕蒸太湖白条
Steamed Taihu Lake White Fish in Rice Wine

Another item from the regular menu is the Steamed Taihu Lake White Fish in Rice Wine. This fresh water fish is native to Taihu Lake and this steamed fish dish is a favorite in cities surrounding the lake, including Suzhou. The flesh is very tender and has a lightly sweet taste. This dish was perfectly cooked as the meat can be easily lifted from the bones using chopsticks. I recommend this dish with steamed rice which goes well with the flavorful broth.

Hairy Crab from Yangcheng Lake served at SU Yan Restaurant at W Hotel Suzhou
阳澄湖大闸蟹
Hairy Crab from Yangcheng Lake

After watching this documentary on CGTN, I told myself I have to fly to Suzhou this autumn when the hairy crab is in season. It is also said that the best quality hairy crabs are harvested from Suzhou's Yangcheng Lake, and that is where SU Yan Restaurant sources its hairy crabs. From the autumn menu, this Hairy Crab from Yangcheng Lake dish is priced from CNY218.00 up to CNY518.00 per piece, depending on the crab's gender and weight.


Due to its high price, every edible flesh of the hairy crab is important, and the locals have developed an entire art dedicated to eating hairy crab. Coming from the Philippines, I have had crabs with much more flesh than the hairy crab, but what makes the hairy crab very special (and very expensive) is the crab roe. It's fatty, almost buttery, very rich in crab flavor, naturally salty with a lightly sweet aftertaste.

Stir-fried Prawns with Hairy Crab Roe
清炒蟹粉伴牡丹虾球
Stir-fried Prawns, Hairy Crab Roe, Black Vinegar Pearls

While the hairy crab is in season, SU Yan Restaurant has also incorporated parts of the crab to other dishes, such as the Stir-fried Prawns with Hairy Crab Roe and Black Vinegar Pearls. The heavenly taste of the hairy crab roe definitely elevated the already delicious taste of the prawn.

Cocktail Bar at SU Yan Restaurant W Hotel Suzhou
Cocktail Bar at SU Yan Restaurant | W Suzhou

Consistent with the bar culture of W Hotels, SU Yan Restaurant also has its own bar which serves classic cocktails and drinks especially curated for the restaurant. A must-try drink is Suyan's Tribute which is a white pepper-infused vodka drink mixed with pineapple juice, lemon juice and syrup.

Cocktail served at SU Yan Restaurant W Hotel Suzhou
苏滟朝贡
Suyan's Tribute

Overall, it was a fulfilling experience to sample classic Suzhou cuisine in a refined and contemporary setting of SU Yan Restaurant. Dishes were well executed and exquisitely presented. Ingredients were undoubtedly superior and tasted very fresh. The highlight of my meal was definitely the hairy crab. On a normal day, I would dine here again to sample other classic Suzhou and Jiangsu dishes, and I will definitely fly here again in autumn to have a taste of the hairy crab.

SU Yan Restaurant at W Suzhou

SU Yan Restaurant is one of the most popular Chinese restaurants in Suzhou, both for locals and domestic Chinese tourists. It has remained to be a secret to many western tourists due to the limited English language information available online. Hopefully this review will spread the word to our readers who are planning a trip to Suzhou. If you will be visiting Shanghai, it only takes a 30 minute high-speed train ride to reach Suzhou. If you do visit Suzhou, stay at W Suzhou and include SU Yan Restaurant in your culinary itinerary. I highly recommend that you reserve a table in advance.




SU Yan Restaurant
34th Floor, W Suzhou, Building 7, Suzhou Center
Corner of Xinggang Avenue and Suhui Road
Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China
Contact: +86 512 6988 7777
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