Article By Mike Leaner
23F, Grand Hyatt Hotel, No.12 Jinye Road, High Tech Zone
(029) 8811 1234
5:30pm – 10:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 200RMB
PROS: Great Italian food; breathtaking vistas
CONS: You will pay for quality, but it’s worth it
After years of reviewing I thought I’d seen it all, and thus my threshold for being impressed has greatly increased. As a critic I risk very little by being this cynical, but there is still some room in my cold heart to rise to the defense of things that are new and great. I find myself in this kind of situation now, having gone to the Grand Hyatt expecting the same old song-and-dance, but left knowing that I’d just eaten one of the finest meals I’ve ever had in Xi’an.
You can’t miss the new Grand Hyatt in Gaoxin—it’s the huge, H-shaped building on Jinye Road. If you take the elevator high enough to make your ears pop, you’re likely going to be on the same floor as Allegro, their Italian restaurant. As befits my status as a world-renowned food and beverage critic, I first got to meet their chef, Marco.
Originally from Rome, he has spent a significant amount of time working abroad, and getting to pick his brain about his food philosophies was certainly a treat. It was then that he said something that would set the pace for the whole meal. “I refuse to change the recipes of my home,” he said. “But we [foreigners] are the guests here, and we must calibrate to the local taste.” In practice, this meant that he would tweak the flavors and proportions of his recipes to make them more palatable for locals, while retaining authenticity. Long story short, mission accomplished.
The meal started simple with a fresh olive focaccia (a kind of Italian bread) that was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It was quickly followed by a plate of slow-cooked veal medallions with tuna sauce, an exquisite dish that was light and flavorful (that is, of course, if you can stomach the ethics of veal). Then came a masterfully presented seafood soup, a spire of shrimp and mussels ensconced in a rich tomato base. The highlight for me was what came next, a plate of carbonara with generous chunks of pork belly, peppered to perfection and as rich as its golden color would imply. The main course of the night was a breaded pork chop served with a basil cream sauce, an absolutely decadent dish that filled my stomach to its bursting point. We had to power through though, because a dessert course of the best tiramisu in Xi’an and a fine cup of coffee was still in store. Finally, we enjoyed a shot of Allegro’s homemade limoncello, a fine digestif to end an even finer meal.
If you go to Allegro, chances are you might not get the personal treatment that I did (because, remember, I’m a famous food critic). However, you’ll get the same core experience: an unbelievably great Italian meal prepared by Chef Marco and his team, one that you can enjoy from high up in the Grand Hyatt’s giant glass “H” as you soak in a panoramic view of the bustling city below and the gorgeous mountains that surround us. Whatever you’re used to from hotel restaurants, or whatever preconceptions you might have going into this, drop them. Just prepare to be impressed.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at email@example.com