December 2018. It was Christmas Eve in Suzhou and late afternoon was starting to creep into early evening. I’d just finished my explorations of the city’s romantic Pingjiang Road canal street and my stomach was rumbling. There were a wealth of eating options around, but I already knew where I was heading. Located right on Pingjiang Road (number 94) in a one hundred and thirty year old wooden building, Pin Von is one of the world’s most famous teahouses and a decent dim sum restaurant to boot.
December 2018. Tea has never really been my thing, so I went straight for Pin Von’s food menu. The ground floor was already busy with chomping families, so I opted to take the creaky staircase upstairs, which proved delightfully empty. The narrow corridor holds eight tastefully decorated dining rooms, four on each side, while a larger family-sized chamber takes up the far wall.
December 2018. I settled into this cosy room with the paper menu handed to me by the waiter downstairs. You get a pencil too, which allows you to simply tick off what you want after having a giggle at some of the amusing Chinglish translations. “Saliva Chicken, eh?” mused Wonderboy by WeChat voice message as I relayed some of the dish names to him. “Mate, don’t be surprised if that involves the waiter spitting on your plate after he’s served it!”
December 2018. Luckily Pin Von’s Saliva chicken (far left) went down a treat, served cold on the bone in tangy vinaigrette with chopped nuts and coriander. The crispy Shepherd’s Purse Vegetable Spring Rolls were great too, though the pick of the bunch had to be the pan-fried organic cauliflower with minced beef, garlic and red peppers.
December 2018. The bill came to a very reasonable 79RMB (£9/€10/$11.50). For those wanting a bit of peace and quiet, my visit at around 17:00 was perfect. After dark Pin Von gets packed and there’s often traditional Chinese music and singing on offer. If you find yourself on Pingjiang Road soaking up the canal vibe, you’d be mad not to pop in for a bite or a cup of tea!
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