Even a few short years ago, searching for bread and baked goods in Suzhou was a hopeless task, but now good bakeries seem to be opening every month. While pastries may still be far behind their leavened counterparts, and the best cure for a real sweet tooth is still a trip to Shanghai, the ovens of Suzhou are now producing some of the best bread in China. Today, there’s little that a sandwich maker could want that’s not available somewhere in town: from pita bread to warm, salty pretzels, Suzhou’s bakeries offer a great selection at affordable prices.
1) Franco PapaView In Map
A Suzhou favourite for many years, Franco Papa has an astounding variety of bread and sandwiches. This bakery has a few good staples like a hearty baguette or English/Texas Toast (six wide slices of bread), both for 12 RMB. These thick, fluffy, oversized slices of bread are great for toasted sandwiches. The wheat bread suffers from the same artificial brown taste that plague a lot of dark bread in China.
Franco Papa’s other baked goods are also winners. The middle table offers a rotation of pizza and sandwich-like treats that range from mini ham and cheese rolls to fried chicken sandwiches. Some of them are a little bizarre (like the curry hot dog roll), and the regular sandwiches are a little overpriced, but still, meat and cheese filled pastries can be a nice break from a regular diet of white bread and baozi.
Add: 1B-120 Xindu Plaza, Jinjihu Lu, Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou
Tel: 512 6761 7658
Add: F2, B2016 Auchan Supermarket, Jinjihu Lu, Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou
Tel: 512 6237 3382
2) O’BestView In Map
Just down the street from Franco Papa, this newly opened bread maker has some pretty good baked goods, although few could be considered “originals”. In fact, O’Best is a virtual clone of Franco Papa, right down to the identical paper bags and coffee menu. Many of the breadchoices are so similar that one may suspect that it was opened by a former employee, although no one there admits it.
Even if you missed the generous 22% discount during the store’s grand opening, you can still save a little money at O’Best on a few items. Some sliced bread is 10 RMB, and they have a nice ham and cheese roll for 10 RMB as well. But really, you’d only go to O’Best for the same reason you’d buy any cheap copy of an original; to save a few kuai and hope your friends don’t notice.
Add: 88 Jinjihu Lu,Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou
Tel: 512 6280 4836
3) PariskyoView In Map
The anchor bakery of the Rainbow Walk mall, the oddly named Pariskyo was an instant hit when it opened a few months ago. Although its regular bread selection is undistinguished, Pariskyo has a few more “complicated” bread choices than most places. The rye is possibly the best in town, and can be bought as a loaf for 20 RMB or as a roll for 8 RMB. And in the land of the disappointing bagel, there’s finally a choice worthy of accompanying a nice Sunday breakfast. Bagels come in raisin and sesame, and can be purchased in packs of three for 15 RMB.
Be prepared for a long wait. Pariskyois popular with locals for both its bread and fruity drink concoctions, and there always seem to be people waiting for one or the other. It’s also a good idea to get there a little early, since some bread like rye can sell out before noon.
Add: B1022 Rainbow Department Store, 388 Suya Lu, Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou
Tel: 512 6299 6218
4) Bastiaan Bakery at Enjoy CityView In Map
Unknown to most of Suzhou’s foreign population, this foreign foods store in the Horizon Resort has a lot of quality imported goods. Perhaps its best import is from the Bastiaan Bakery in Shanghai. As the only distributor of Shanghai-made baked goods in Suzhou, Enjoy City has a lot of varieties that are not available anywhere else in town. A bag of pita pockets or a six-pack of English muffins both cost more than 20 RMB, but both are impressive approximations of the real deal. The sliced rye is okay, and the wheat sandwich bread is not bad either. Enjoy City also has a good deli, which means it’s the best place in Suzhou to buy both bread and sliced meat.
This is another bakery where timing is important. The delivery truck comes once every two days, so don’t be surprised if you show up and find only a crushed pack of white toast slices left. It’s also a good idea to check the label of the bread you’re buying to make sure it’s fresh—there’s no discount for day olds.
Add: 188 Xinghan Lu (inside development 2), Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou
5) CarrefourView In Map
Hamburger buns! It seems strange that so many baked good purveyors in Suzhou sell complex creations like chocolate tiramisu and corn and tuna mini-pizzas without first selling the good ‘ole hamburger bun. That duty falls to the French supermarket chain, which sells the only decent hamburger bun in town. While it’s possible that not every store has the same bread selection, the Carrefour on Donghuan Lu stocks them. Carrefour has an otherwise disappointing selection of bread. The baguette, while less than 3 RMB, is particularly unpleasant. The pastry counter is more geared towards Chinese customers, and has items that are mostly oversweet with cheaply made fillings.
Add: 266 Fengyi Lu (just off Donghuan Lu), Suzhou Industrial Park, Suzhou
6) What’s left
You are unlikely to find “good” bread and pastries at Chinese-style bakeries like Holiland and I Will, and these places should be avoided unless you like mysteriously sweetened bread and more bizarrely unsweetened desserts. Anyone who’s ever taken a bite of a hastily purchased birthday cake knows the near pointlessness of trying to enjoy a bland, brightly coloured sponge. That goes for other supermarkets like Auchan, Wal-Mart and RT Mart as well.
This list does not include stores that are too overpriced. Summit, the central foreign foods store in the Industrial Park, charges up to 50 RMB for a loaf of wheat that is covered in sunflower seeds, and is not worth visiting for bread alone. In addition, although you can order bread from J & J with Sherpa’s, they have similarly unfair prices, asking as much as 12 RMB for a single pretzel.
And still no one makes truly excellent pastries in Suzhou. There’s plenty of good chocolatiers and even cake makers, but until someone like international chain Paris Baguette decides to move into town, most people will have to be content with mixing a box of Betty Crocker at home.
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Keywords: Best bread shops in Suzhou pastries in Suzhou buy baked goods in Suzhou best bread in Suzhou
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