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Right royal elegance

By Rebecca Lo | China Daily | Updated: 2013-11-17 11:51

Right royal elegance

Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel in Suzhou offers local dishes, including the famous Mandarin fish. Photos provided to China Daily

Even the emperors of the past often escaped their palaces to enjoy the attractions of Suzhou food and scenery. Rebecca Lo does the same.

Right royal elegance

Ideal place to meet 'mom' and 'dad' 

Right royal elegance

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Jiangsu province is dotted with picturesque rivers and lakes that give rise to the dominance of freshwater fish and seafood in its cuisine. And food is something that the residents of Suzhou take very seriously.

A city that takes pride in every aspect of its rich cultural heritage, Suzhou's natives believe that it is important to eat locally sourced, seasonally appropriate food to promote health and equilibrium.

While many Shang Palaces around Asia tend to specialize in traditional Cantonese dishes, Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel in Suzhou does things differently.

Its unique situation between the historic city and the high-tech Suzhou Industrial Park means that the hotel attracts both locals and expats in town for business. For the latter, it makes sense to try local dishes that aren't available elsewhere. This is reflected in the menu, with dishes elevated to a refined level of sophistication that cements the fine dining establishment's reputation.

On a recent visit to Suzhou, we decided to indulge in as many local dishes as we could fit into our tummies. Though we noticed a few Cantonese staples on the menu, we were drawn to the many Huaiyang dishes that showcased produce from the fall season.

We started with Suzhou-style fried fish artfully presented against a floral motif finely rendered in colored sugar. The freshwater fish was cut into chunks and deep-fried before it was smothered in a sweet sauce that still allowed fishy goodness to shine through. I loved its firm texture, kept intact by the frying method.

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