Article By Alex Zheng
Having lived in Xi’an for three years now, my girlfriend and I have exhausted our options for date places. With new movie theatres opening every week and new Chinglish restaurants opening up every month we’ve been yearning for somewhere else to go in the evenings that doesn’t involve hotpot or barbecue on the street. So when we heard about the outdoor barbecue at the Kempinski it was something we could get really excited about. Rumor had it that it was the only river view in Xi’an and, since we’re both from waterfront cities, we were really looking forward to that nice river breeze while eating dinner.
You can get there easily with ride-hailing apps like Uber and Didi (滴滴出行). It’s a long ride and the fare was expensive but, hell, date nights aren’t supposed to be cheap.
It is a very scenic drive and you’ll be struck by how empty the roads are going to the Kempinski Hotel and how much it reminds you of home, with the long meadows and the young maple trees along the side of road. When you arrive at the hotel it’s apparent that the Kempinski lives up to its 5-star reputation. The lobby is covered floor-to-ceiling in cedar and this particular night had a large contingent of Korean guests hanging out in the lobby. Getting to the outdoor BBQ is a long walk but once you get there the ambiance is instantly recognizable. If you’ve ever done a wine tour on the west coast of North America you’ll know that there is a fine dining restaurant with a patio in every vineyard and this is that feeling exactly.
Wooden chairs and tables are strewn about on astroturf just a few meters from the riverbank. All of the servers are dressed in Oktoberfest outfits and the whole thing has a strong, relaxing feeling. With the breeze coming in off of the river and the lack of smog, we both felt like we were back home.
The buffet, which costs 278RMB per person, is worth it for the mishmash of foods. There is some German barbecue, Chinese barbecue, seafood grill, sausage counter, Chinese noodles, Japanese food and a dessert station. Lastly, there is an unlimited amount of Paulaner beer on tap, one of the few beers brewed in Xi’an. However, the river is the star of the show and coming here to watch the sunset on a clear night with beer maids and beer mensch walking around really allows you to let it all hang out.
It’s a shame when you’re stuffed full of bratwurst and lager that the night has to come to an end. If you’re too full you can just get a room, which they’re offering in a package for two with barbecue and breakfast buffet passes for 948RMB. If you’re ever looking for that cool evening breeze then the Kempinski is the place to be.
Alex is the owner of Caprice and has forgotten more about food than you’ve ever known. He can be reached at Alexander.Zheng@capricexian.com