East China Ecological Farm covers an area of more than 400 acres, with a 10,000 square meter ecological restaurant featuring small bridges, flowing water, rockeries, sculptures, flowers, trees, and a magnificent garden. It’s a perfect combination of classical gardens and modern landscape art. Walking into the restaurant is like entering an art maze. There are three large banquet halls, each with its own unique characteristics, capable of accommodating up to 3,000 people for dining at the same time. The dishes on the table are all homemade, creating the pure green brand of East China. Relaxing in the farm, frolicking in the woods, and strolling through the orchards provide another level of enjoyment.
He Shun Ji is a well-known brand that has been in existence for 280 years on the Bacheng Old Street, born in 1736 during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. It embodies the importance and protection of intangible cultural heritage, the promotion and inheritance of traditional food culture, the enrichment of cultural connotations in the old street tourist area, and the satisfaction of the daily needs of the town’s residents. The newly built old brand was established in early 2014, covering an area of over 300 square meters, with a retro style and Jiangnan folk customs. The five major areas, including the on-site exhibition area, dining and tasting area, independent cleaning, kitchen processing, and frozen storage, all showcase the unique craftsmanship of the brand. The outdoor dining and leisure area, spanning 177 square meters, is especially noteworthy for its integration of courtyard scenery, snacks, and relaxation, making it a multi-functional cultural and leisure area.
Bacheong Old Street Shui Mo Yun is a leisure and entertainment cultural club that blends classical dining with Kunqu Opera culture. It is the only private Kunqu Opera museum in Kunshan that is open to the public all year round for free, and it is also the exclusive Kunqu Opera cultural restaurant in Kunshan. Visitors feel as if they are at home when they come to this club, which has undergone several million yuan in investment and three years of meticulous work. Every detail of the club reflects the essence of Kunqu Opera.
Feathered Bird Bar was established in 1997, and now has three branches: Feathered Bird Western Restaurant & Bar (Zhongyin World Trade Plaza), Feathered Bird City Wine Cellar (Tongfeng Road), and Feathered Bird (Bacheng Old Street). The bar is based on western cowboy culture and aims to create a western-style music bar centered on music culture.
Among them, Feiniao (Bacheng Old Street Store) takes advantage of the excellent geographical environment and the cultural atmosphere of the Kunqu opera town, and specializes in Soviet-style afternoon tea. The tea room decoration is a combination of Chinese and Western styles. It is located under the Fuxing Bridge. Basking in the sun, drinking tea, enjoying the scenery and chatting will make the cold winter days warm up.
Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crab, also known as Chinese mitten crab, is renowned for its exquisite taste and is often referred to as simply crab, hairy crab, or clear water crab. The clear water mitten crab produced in Yangcheng Lake is highly regarded for its distinctive features of “clear back, white belly, golden claws, and yellow hair”. It is considered one of the most delicious foods globally, and an analysis shows that 100 grams of fresh crab meat contains 14 grams of protein, 5.9 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates, and an abundance of minerals and vitamin A. Crab meat has medicinal value and can clear heat, nourish tendons, and benefit qi, making it useful for treating tendon and bone injuries, scabies, and burns. Crab claws can aid in treating postpartum abdominal pain caused by blood stasis. Crab shells have also been found to possess toxin-attacking and stasis-clearing properties, making them effective in treating stagnant blood, milk surge, frostbite, and other related ailments.
There is a saying goes like, “If not for the crab, why bother living in Suzhou?” Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs have been admired by many food lovers since ancient times, and even have the reputation of being the best in the world. So why are the hairy crabs of Yangcheng Lake particularly good? According to professionals, the reason why the hairy crabs in Yangcheng Lake are delicious is that, first of all, Yangcheng Lake has good water activity and serves as Suzhou’s water source, so no pollution sources are permitted within 300 meters of the lake, and the entire area is an ecological green space with clear and transparent water, high calcium, magnesium, silicon, aluminum, and oxygen content. In addition, the sediment at the lake bed of Yangcheng Lake is of high quality, with over 65% of hard ground. Moreover, the aquatic plants in the lake are particularly lush, providing an abundance of natural feed such as fish and shrimp. The hairy crabs in Yangcheng Lake feed on this natural diet, crawling back and forth on the hard lake bed, exercising their physique, and even sunbathing, thus engaging in “aerobic exercise,” which contributes to their reputation as the “king of crabs.”
It is precisely because of the above reasons that the nutritional content of Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs is particularly high, containing rich protein and more than 10 amino acids, especially glutamic acid, proline, histidine, and arginine, so the taste is particularly good. Ultimately, this is attributed to the slightly alkaline water quality of Yangcheng Lake.
The municipal environmental protection bureau, along with Shanghai Ocean University and other credible institutions, have carried out extensive monitoring of over 20 points in Yangcheng Lake over multiple years. The results of this monitoring have provided ample evidence to support the claim that the PH level of both Yangcheng Middle Lake and Yangcheng East Lake, which serve as the primary breeding grounds for hairy crabs, remains consistently between 8.1 and 8.3 throughout the year.
For those with a background in chemistry, it is common knowledge that a pH level of 7 is neutral, while a pH level below 7 indicates acidity and a pH level above 7 indicates alkalinity. Based on the monitoring data mentioned earlier, it can be concluded that the water in Yangcheng Lake is slightly alkaline, with the main breeding areas of hairy crabs having an even higher pH level. In comparison to other lakes across the country, very few have a pH level as high as Yangcheng Lake’s.
Yangcheng Lake Crabs are unique in that their shells are relatively thin and soft, which makes them easier to crack open while eating. Experts suggest that this characteristic is linked to the slightly alkaline water in the area. During the six months of pond-reared breeding, crabs typically molt their shells between 4 to 5 times. Due to the alkaline environment, they do not require a hard, thick shell to withstand the corrosive effects of acidic water. Consequently, the shells of Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs are thinner and softer. It is reasonable to assume that during the molting process, the nutrients that would have been used for shell growth are redirected to the crab meat, resulting in plumper meat.
According to experts, the reputation of Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crab as the “world’s number one delicacy” is not due to any excessive advertising or extraordinary breeding methods. Rather, it is primarily attributed to the distinct natural characteristics of Yangcheng Lake. Even if crabs from other regions are brought to Yangcheng Lake, their taste and quality can improve significantly after a period of time spent acclimating to the environment. This serves as a testament to the “alkaline water” theory.
In fact, consuming alkaline substances can be highly beneficial to the human body. Medical research shows that the secret to preventing cancer is quite simple – regularly eat alkaline foods to prevent the accumulation of acidic waste. An acidic bodily fluid environment is fertile soil for the transformation of normal cells into cancerous ones. Adjusting the balance of bodily fluids’ acidity and alkalinity is considered by Swiss scholars as the third effective way to prevent cancer.
Bubble Wonton is a type of small wonton with incredibly thin skin that is expertly crafted. When cooked, these wontons float on the surface, resembling delicate and sparkling bubbles. The meat filling and soup are both scrumptious and flavorful, earning them the nickname “Bubble Wonton” Several years ago, a female worker with a surname of Xia, who was laid off, came up with this ingenious concept in Zhenyi Old Street. Witnessing the public’s desire for sophisticated cuisine, she introduced this reasonably priced and high-quality snack, which swiftly became popular. Currently, there are five or six “Bubble Wonton” shops on both sides of the central bridge in the old street. These shops are a magnet for tourists, and each one is bustling with customers. The workers at these shops are either Xia’s sisters or relatives. A solitary small wonton has brought riches to an entire family and has also established a brand for the ancient town.
Qingtuanzi is a delicacy that is characterized by its soft and smooth texture, as well as its sweet flavor that is not overly greasy. It has a pleasant aroma that is not overpowering, and it can retain its freshness for up to a week without going bad. The use of high-quality ingredients and handmade craftsmanship contribute to the exceptional quality of Qingtuanzi. Moreover, there is a secret technique used for making mugwort juice, which plays a crucial role in the production of Qingtuanzi in Kunshan. This green juice is made from a wild plant called mugwort and is used to color the glutinous rice flour, resulting in rice dumplings that are vibrant green in color. The addition of mugwort juice gives Qingtuanzi a rich aroma and a unique taste that is absolutely delightful.
The most renowned Qingtuanzi in the Jiangnan region can be found in Baching Zhengyi Town. Each year during the Qingming Festival, the ancient town bustles with activity as people come to purchase Qingtuanzi. Despite the continuous rain that occurs during the Qingming season, which weaves a damp web between the sky and earth, it cannot deter people’s adoration for Qingtuanzi.
The history of Qingtuanzi can be traced back to the late Qing Dynasty. Legend has it that a woman named Zhao Hui from Baching Zhengyi Town discovered that a wild grass called “Jiangmaicao” was an excellent ingredient for making the green juice used in Qingtuanzi. She found that rice balls made with hand-ground flour were softer, more delicate, and didn’t stick to teeth, and they would not crack, harden, or go bad after several days of storage. Later, an old lady named Chen Sibao from a cake shop south of the central bridge in the town learned the secret recipe from Zhao Hui. Since then, Qingtuanzi has been supplied to the market, becoming a delicious and locally distinctive snack. It was even listed as a festival tribute during the late Qing Dynasty.
To create Qingtuanzi, a wild grass known as “Jiangmai” is utilized. It is first washed and soaked in a basin with slaked lime. After soaking for some time, the grass is taken out, pounded, and the green juice is extracted. This juice is then combined with glutinous rice flour and early indica rice flour to form a dough. The filling for the Qingtuanzi is typically a smooth sweet bean paste, though other fillings like date paste or rose can be used as well. During the filling process, a small piece of sugar and lard is added. Once the dough is shaped, the Qingtuanzi are steamed to cook. After steaming, the surface of the Qingtuanzi is brushed evenly with cooked vegetable oil using a brush, and this final step completes the process.
Freshly steamed Qingtuanzi are as green as jade and as shiny as emerald, sweet but not greasy, rich but not heavy. Today, Qingtuanzi is not only a culinary delight but also carries the reminiscence of loved ones and the inheritance of folk customs, adding a touch of atmosphere to the festival.
Bacheng grape base, located in Kunshan City was established in October 2006 with a planned area of 10,000 acres and a total investment of 177.58 million yuan. It is distributed in seven villages, including Bachinghu Village, Xinkaihe Village, Maoshatang Village, Moliaojing Village, Longtanhu Village, and Maoxu Village. The base construction in Bacheng focuses on developing modern agriculture, vigorously introducing excellent grape varieties from both domestic and foreign sources. All grapes are planted using pollution-free planting techniques, and a “company + base + farmer” operating model is adopted to promote the development of more than 500 farms, including Xingqijiu Farm, Huadong Ecological Farm, Ancient City Grape Plantation, and Longteng Grape Plantation, with an annual output of nearly 8,000 tons of high-quality grapes. The base has played a positive role in the development of modern urban agriculture, promoting the process of enriching the local people and developing the village, enhancing the tourism function of the tertiary industry, reducing agricultural non-point source pollution, and protecting the environment.