I.M. Pei, illustrious architect and maker of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has a number of ties to Suzhou, the most recent of which is as the designer of the new Suzhou Museum. Besides being the perfect place to go on a rainy afternoon (admission is free), the museum is worth a visit if only to see the glass and granite courtyard, which is reminiscent of his Pyramide du Louvre but with overt Chinese flair like small rocks shaped like giant mountains and fancy carp.
To our surprise, the lovely woman helping us in the museum shop turned out to be Mr. Pei’s niece and, again to our surprise, is a fellow Ohioan! With her help, we picked up some fun souvenirs and a restaurant recommendation: Wumen Renjia, 吴门人家, a converted home and garden specializing in Suzhou cuisine (Read: sweet and fried) at 31 Panru Xiang, 潘儒巷31号. It’s just three blocks from the museum. Exit the museum gate and turn east (left) on Dongbei Jie, 東北街, then turn south (right) at the bridge. Walk a block down Yuanling Lu, 园林路, and walk a block. The restaurant is in the quiet alley, just to your right. It looks like this: