Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China


As I’ve mentioned before Scoozi is the somewhat ridiculous and childish name of the Italian restaurant in the recently opened Radisson Blu hotel (柳州丽笙酒店). They describe it as the “first real western restaurant in Liuzhou” which is patently untrue, but I finally dragged myself off there today to check it out. My favourite eating companion and I went for Sunday lunch.

The restaurant is on the 26th floor of the hotel and offers fine views over Liuzhou and the river. Well, sort of. The table my companion and I were at overlooked one of Liuzhou’s many building sites. The main window overlooks the new Liuzhou government building and the square in front – a better view, but it was a miserable, cold and foggy day, so not worth looking at.  Especially through dirty windows. I imagine it would be good at night on a nice summer evening, though.

The dining room is elegantly designed with lots of white furnishings, lots of glass and mirrors. When we arrived at lunchtime, there was one other couple in the place, but they soon left. Although their website claims it is a “cozy Italian restaurant” what we found was more of an empty barn. No one else turned up in the two hours we were there. This worries me. I lived in Italy. Italian dining on a Sunday lunchtime isn’t sitting in an empty hall with bored (although pleasant) staff. And I remember several foreign restaurants in Liuzhou which were empty each time I went. Unsurprisingly, they have all disappeared.

After becoming used to  the menus in most Chinese restaurants which are as long as “Journey to the West” (4 volumes) , Scoozi’s menu seemed very short but was actually probably sensible. There were a handful of appetizers, three salads and two soups (with stunning originality these are minestrone or tomato) to get us going. My companion went for pumpkin ravioli, while I plumped for insalata caprese (buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil salad, with a truffle oil dressing).

While we were waiting for these, some very nice bread and butter turned up. As did the glass of wine I had ordered. They have more wines on their wine list than dishes on their menu. When I see a number like 2008 on a wine list, I usually assume it is the vintage. Nope! That was the price per bottle. Though, to be fair, they did have some around the 300-500元 mark,  and they have a range of wines which they dispense by the glass, which is what we went for.

Bread (and wine)

The starters arrived and both dishes were served with light sauces and both plates were decorated with drizzles or splashes of balsamic vinegar. In fact, all dishes were served with drizzles of balsamic vinegar. I detect a theme. My salad had but one leaf of basil, artistically placed on top, but it was a large leaf. However the whole salad would have been better if it wasn’t served at fridge temperature and the basil had been more generously spread throughout the dish, adding its flavour to the tomatoes. I tore it up and rearranged the plate!

Pumpkin ravioli

Insalata Caprese

For main courses, my companion had veal cutlets with ratatouille and risotto, while I went for risotto al porcini. The veal wasn’t a pretty looking dish (apart from the artistic balsamic squiggles, which at first I thought were the Chinese characters for the name of the dish, or the chef) but she declared herself content. My risotto was delicious and generously dosed with tasty porcini / cèpes. They also have a range of grills (steaks), pastas and pizzas.

Veal cutlets

Risotto al porcini

By the time we worked our way through (most of) this, we were stuffed – and we took our time, had a rest and tried again, but the quantities were very generous and we were happily full and warm inside.

Dessert was not possible! But they do have a few. Sorry, I was too stuffed to even look at them!

Then I found out why it is called “Scoozi”, a corruption of the Italian word ‘scusi’ which means ‘excuse me’ or ‘sorry’. This is what they should say when they hit you with the bill. The total for all this – two starters, two mains, two glasses of wine and a hot chocolate was a cool 741.80元 including 15% service charge. Was it good? Yes. Was it 741.80元 good? For a Sunday lunch for two? No. Saturday’s lunch was probably just as good and only 111元. Today’s was ridiculously overpriced.

I really don’t see how it will survive. That is way too much for 99% of Liuzhou’s citizenry and I can’t see the hotel attracting enough visitors with the wherewithal and the desire for foreign food. The local government people who love their publicly funded banquets and support many of the overpriced restaurants in town prefer Chinese and lots of baijiu. So, they won’t turn up either. For the very occasional treat, I may go back, but frankly, I doubt it.

They are running a “Game Promotion @ Scoozi” (the stupid name and pseudo-trendy advertising is totally at odds with the seriousness and style of the actual restaurant)  from January 16th to February 10th. Menu items are “creamy game soup” (65元), “homemade game pie” (75元) for starters; “jugged venison” (110元), “wild boar chop” (110元) and “deer escapole mirza style” (120元) for mains then “ice cream with hot forest berries” (65元) for dessert. Plus a 15% service charge. I love game, but I have this strange aversion to being mugged.

. This entry was posted on Sunday, January 8th, 2012 at 7:40 pm and is filed under Food and Drink, Radisson Hotel, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Scoozi?”

  1. Michael Says:

    The gentleman doth protest too much, me thinks.

    I usually agree with most of what you write but I think you’re a bit off base on this one. The price is actually pretty much in line with what I’ve seen as near as Nanning and Guangzhou. Too call it ‘ridiculously overpriced’, in my opinion is, well… ridiculous!

    I do agree that it remains to be seen as to whether or not the locals are gonna’ buy in. Those who have actually travelled outside of Guangxi shouldn’t be so surprised by the prices and personally I am surrounded by thousands of the citizenry who certainly can afford this much money for a meal. Hell, they plop that down in one night at the grimiest KTV bar!

    I do hope they can make it, as it does appear they are here for the long haul.

    They are having an Expat night tomorrow in the 26 Bar, with the hopes of turning it into a monthly thing. Tomorrow’s inaugural event is free. There is beer. Hope to see you there.

  2. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    I agree there are people in Liuzhou who can pay that. The point is are they willing to? From the emptiness of the restaurant, it seems not. We are not in Nanning or Guangzhou, so that is irrelevant.

    Yes they drop that kind of money at grimy KTV places because that is what they prefer to do. As I said, they just ain’t that interested in western food.

    I’m sorry you disagree, and I hope they make it, but the history of foreign restaurants in Liuzhou suggests otherwise.

  3. Michael Says:

    It’s relevant precisely BECAUSE we are not in Nanning or Guangzhou. There hasn’t been anything of this caliber offered here in Liuzhou and it’s not an inexpensive proposition for these guys to stage this kind of production. If Liuzhou wants to sit at the big boys table, then this is the price. Not all that long ago we could have easily said the same thing about Nanning. Somebody’s got to be first…

    I may be wrong in the long run. As you said today… the restaurants are nearly empty. I am hopeful that they can somehow become the same kind of status symbol that the fleets of Audis and Mercedes and expensive watches have become. I am certainly doing my part!

    Anyway, Lily says you can always have meatloaf and mashed potatoes at our house.

    Miss you mate,


  4. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    I think you have missed a point. The food. I do not think the food was of “that caliber”. The decor perhaps. The food was no way 7 times better than the lunch we enjoyed the day before for 1/7th price. It was just standard Italian – one starter and one main were very good; the other starter and main were average; certainly nothing special. I’ve eaten better Italian in China at a fraction of the price.

    But I guess we are never going to agree on this. – but I’d pay megabucks for Lily’s meatloaf and mash!

  5. Yingying Xue Says:

    Nice food!
    Hmmm,but 741.80RMB for Two peple…so expensive,huh:)

  6. Paul Says:

    Totally agree.

    I went with a party of four adults and two children. Total cost was a shade south of 3000RMB. Ridiculous, is the word.

    It was good. But not that good. Not even near.

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