Oct 18, 2016
For this column I am going to recommend a jolly good feed for the times when you just want to go home stuffed and a bit tipsy. One of the great pleasures of living in Suzhou is the number of restaurants that have a buffet offer with all you can eat and drink for a set price. I find that I am very relaxed when I know exactly what the evening is going to cost right from the get go, being a bit, ahem, careful with the cash. A fair number of these offers appear in Japanese restaurants for some reason and it is to one of these that I recently went. I think offers like these in Japanese restaurants are particularly popular with expats because in ‘the West’, Japanese food tends to be at the more expensive end of the eating out scale.
Nagomi is on the second floor of an indistinct looking building diagonally opposite the new Hilton Doubletree on Suzhou Avenue East. As the name suggests, this is to the east of Jinji Lake and it is actually very easy to find as it is right outside the 4th exit of Nanshi Jie on Line 1 of the metro.
Once inside you will be situated in a little private room with paper walls. These offer a little privacy but no protection from the racket of a family with warring kids if they happen to be next to you. Half way through our meal a little foot came through our ‘wall’. A bit distracting but not a major problem as it all seemed to be in good spirits. The décor is pretty much as will be found in most of the Japanese restaurants in town but was clean and well-maintained.
The deal is that you pay RMB240 for access to the full a la carte menu or RMB188 for slightly more limited access – basically no wagyu beef or sea urchins. We decided to miss out on the urchins and went cheap. I did say I was a bit careful! When the waitress took our initial order she seemed disappointed and actually told us to order more because ‘that’s not much.’ I really don’t know how they make a profit on these deals, especially as it includes the mainstay of restaurant profits, alcoholic drink. In this case, all the draught beer or hot and cold sake that you can put away is included. I took that to be a bit of a personal challenge and was later grateful not to be driving home!
None of the food was particularly amazing but it all tasted good and just kept on coming. And coming. And coming. I do feel a bit British and awkward when piling order upon order when enjoying one of these deals but the waiting staff are completely relaxed about it and even encouraging. No dirty sideways glances here! We had lots of sushi and sashimi, including salmon, tuna, prawn, roe and even foie gras. Our cooked selections included sizzling beef, oysters, grilled salmon and cod, prawns and foie gras on toast. There was so much that I forget all of it. A pleasurable blur of tasty morsels!
Had we been ordering off of the a la carte menu it would have easily cost a couple of thousand kwai. I recommend enjoying this superb deal while it’s available. I hope we didn’t dent the restaurant’s viability too much. We walked out RMB376 lighter but in every other way walked out heavier.
About the Column
Markus is from the Isle of Wight in the UK and had been living in Suzhou since 2013. It is his first time living in China and before this he was in London. He has been teaching English all of his adult life and in HE since 2000. He is lucky to have his wife with him in Suzhou and together they are making a new life. His interests include eating out (a lot) and exploring local areas on his ebike. And recently, walking a doggie.