Suzhou has become one of the best cities in China if you’re looking for a good foreign food store. Proximity to Shanghai and a large foreign population means that you’ll be satisfied with both the selection and price of your foreign products. However, the random pricing of foreign foods at these stores means that no one store is definitively better than the other: the place with cheapest olive oil might have the most overpriced wine or beer. In order to get an idea of the prices at different places, I chose four commonly used items at random and compared their prices at each of the following stores.
1) Summit 顶峰超市 View In Map
When Summit first opened five years ago, it was pretty much the only game in town. As a result, it had ridiculously high prices and a poor selection. Lemons went for almost 50 RMB a kilo and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey was 300 RMB! Since the explosion of other food stores around town, Summit seems to have moderated its prices a bit. Still, its slogan, “We are not providing products, but lifestyle” is an apt description of the reason most people shop here. As an upscale purveyor of imported goods, Summit does have a fantastic wine selection. While you’d be hard pressed to find a bottle for less than 80 RMB, it’s a good place to look for more unique labels. Also, it has the best butcher in town – steaks, sausages, even racks of lamb – and the sliced meats are great.
Barilla brand Spaghetti - 17.8 RMB
Twinings Herbal Teas - 36 RMB
Carbonelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250 ml - 38 RMB
Cheddar Cheese 225g – 45 RMB
Add: 1F, 128 Jinjihu Dong Lu, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 512 6767 1578
2) Eurofoods 欧福 View In Map
Eurofoods has been the main supplier of Suzhou’s foreign restaurants for years, so don’t be surprised to find some of your favourite dishes in its freezers. Old Suzhou hands will tell you stories of eagerly awaiting the one day each month that Eurofoods opened its warehouse to the public; now they’ve opened a convenient outlet across from Summit. The selection may be a bit sparse for such a large company, but the wholesale prices are unbeatable (Jack Daniel’s is only 175 RMB). Bottles of French wine are as low as 50 RMB, and a frozen rib-eye steak goes for around 40 RMB. They have hard-to-find ricotta cheese and Maldon brand sea salt, as well as a huge selection of coffees. Just go to the second floor at the back of the building.
Barilla brand Spaghetti - 16 RMB
Twinings Herbal Teas - 28 RMB
Carbonelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250 ml - 30 RMB
Cheddar Cheese 225g – 23 RMB
Add: F2, Unit 4, Bldg F, 5 Xinghan Jie, SIP, Suzhou
3) Silver Palette 味源食品 View In Map
Another one of Suzhou’s older stores, Silver Palette is small but well stocked. Located in the Korean food mall on Xinghai Lu, Silver Palette is a convenient place to get essentials like pasta, canned soups and olive oil. They also have a nice little candy section, which includes Jelly Belly and a few rare European chocolate brands. They also carry a few things that are surprisingly absent in other stores, such as frozen bagels, sour cream and phyllo dough. Their toiletry shelf has deodorant and foreign soaps.
Barilla brand Spaghetti - 18 RMB
Twinings Herbal Teas – 29.9 RMB
Carbonelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250 ml - 35 RMB
Cheddar Cheese 225g – 39 RMB
Add: 58 Xinghai Lu, SIP, Suzhou
Tel: 512 6287 5622
4) Enjoy City 福蒂 View In Map
Run by the chain in Shanghai, Enjoy City has quite a few products not seen elsewhere in Suzhou – Bob’s Red Mill flours and cake mixes for example. They also have reasonably priced books and magazines – Time is only 20 RMB. Fresh herbs and lettuces are often in stock, and they carry a few organic items as well. Prices are comparable with other shops. Its meat selection is about the same as Summit. It has fresh salmon at a shockingly low price of 80 RMB per kilo, but other meats, like steak, run as high as 349 RMB per kilo. Like its bakery, the shop gets deliveries from the Shanghai branch every few days, so if you show up and it’s been cleaned out, try again the next day. Also, the fruit shop next to Enjoy City sells avocados for 13 RMB each.
Barilla brand Spaghetti - 19 RMB
Twinings Herbal Teas – 38.5 RMB
Carbonelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250 ml - 39 RMB
Cheddar Cheese 225g – 47.5 RMB
Add: 188 Xinghan Jie (inside development 2), SIP, Suzhou
5) FoodieView In Map
Recently bought from Silver Palette, Foodie is a small shop very near Enjoy City. At the time of writing this article, it was still being remodeled, and should be open in the beginning of December. There seems to be little to distinguish it from other stores in terms of price and selection. The owner says they plan to carry more candy and snacks, and judging by the size of the fridges being installed, it should be a good place for cheese too. The one advantage the small shop seems to offer is a VIP card. You can get discounts of up to 10% with the card, as well as get in on regular promotions on select items.
Barilla brand Spaghetti – 16.9 RMB
Twinings Herbal Teas – 36.9 RMB
Carbonelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250 ml – 39 RMB
Cheddar Cheese 225g – N/A
Add: 188 Xinghan Jie (inside development 2), SIP, Suzhou
6) Supermarket in Rainbow Plaza View In Map
Located on the second floor of the Rainbow Plaza mall, this large supermarket is more of a Chinese market with a foreign food section. It has a great assortment of wines and beers, as well as most of the common imported staples you’d expect from a foreign foods store. The prices however are surprisingly high. Something about the foreign food section suggests that it was added as an afterthought, as if having imported products was necessary to make Rainbow a high-class mall. It’s not that everything is ridiculously expensive. Their cereal shelf could compete with any in town, and they have some lower-priced wines. But the prices are wildly variable – a small bottle of Best Foods mayo is 110 RMB! Baking soda is twice the price of any other store. It’s no reason to avoid shopping here completely. Just be aware that some items are best purchased elsewhere.
Barilla brand Spaghetti – 18.9 RMB
Twinings Herbal Teas - 40 RMB
Carbonelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250 ml – 42.5 RMB
Cheddar Cheese 225g – 42.5 RMB
Add: Rainbow Shopping Plaza, Suya Lu, SIP, Suzhou
7) Other Supermarkets
To be fair, a lot of basics can be purchased for cheaper prices at Auchan, Carrefour, and RT Mart (Dai Run Fa), although Wal-Mart has a tragically small foreign food selection. Fewer pastas, spaghetti sauces and canned vegetables are for sale than at the other foreign food stores. When planning a meal, it’s best to try these places first, then go to smaller store for specialty items. Metro, now with two branches in town, is also a good place to go, but most of their products are sold in bulk, so get a few friends to go in together on a 5-kilo block of cheese. They also often supply fresh herbs. There are also a number of excellent Korean and Japanese import stores around town, and while you might not be looking for a fresh batch of kimchee, they have good meats and fresh vegetables.
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Keywords: Foreign food stores in Suzhou cheap foreign foods in Suzhou buying foreign food in Suzhou best foreign food stores in Suzhou
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