Written by Naomi and Javier
Some of the best kept secrets require a little bit of searching to find. When we were trying to find Nai Jiu (奈九居酒屋) which is located in an alleyway between a Starbucks and Dong Dong bao in Gaoxin at Gold Bridge International Mall (金桥国际广场), we walked right past it. We continued our wandering loop, until we happened to pass by again and caught a glimpse inside the magical, beautifully carved entrance. If you get lost like we did, just look for a small red lantern, a chalkboard, and a stone lion. You must dare to put your hand inside the lion’s mouth for the secret sensor to be activated and the doors to open.
Nai Jiu will have you feeling like you’ve just walked into Japan. It has a bar area where you can watch the chef cook, tables for groups of 2-4, and two private rooms for bigger groups. The ambience is perfect for a nice but casual dinner, perfectly lit and decorated with original, custom-made artwork. The extensive menu is in both English and Chinese, with mouthwatering photos of the delicacies that make it easy to order. Even though the staff doesn’t speak English, the creator and owner of the bar, Giovanni, is a Singapore-raised Xi’an native, who is happy to come out and help foreign patrons.
The smaller portions of the food allow you to enjoy a host of different dishes. We filled up on melt-in-your-mouth salmon belly sashimi; cod fish tepanyaki; mouth-tingling wasabi cuttlefish; light and crispy vegetables and prawns deep fried in tempura; a custom made sushi roll with sweet sauce; and golden cheesy prawns. We also enjoyed a cold tofu appetizer; snow peas with sesame; beef steak sautéed with peppers; delightful pumpkin soup; and sweet red bean soup. Two dishes that really stood out to us were the teacup soup and the salmon. The seafood broth soup uses fresh lime to prevent fishiness. Stored in a dainty teapot and served in a miniature tea cup, we were happy sipping away. The salmon belly sashimi is a simple dish of raw salmon belly served with a side of soy sauce and wasabi but incredibly flavorful. Served on top of an edible herbal leaf and shredded daikon, the salmon sashimi alone, prepared fresh daily, makes a trip to Nai Jiu worth it.
In summation, I would say this place is super high quality and super fresh. If you want a change from fried foods, starches and grains, check this place out. This was one of our favorite restaurants and you won’t visit many other restaurants in Xi’an like this one.
PRO: Tasteful decor, dishware, and delicacies will leave you happily filled and back for more!
CON: A bit out of the way unless you live in Gaoxin.
Average price per person: 70-100RMB
Address：1F, Ji Qiao International Square,Keji Road
Open Hours：11:00am – 11:00pm