Article by XIANEASE
Bread is a little like alcohol, in that it’s usually made from some sort of grain and just about every culture has their own unique form of it. What you want out of bread, then, will likely hinge on where you’re coming from. That presents a potentially big problem for lovers of the loaf in Xi’an, whose first experience with a local baker is probably a step into the blinding-white, meat floss disaster that is Bread Talk (which can’t be good for morale). While flavors more intended for local palates abound, we did dig up some places that know their way around an oven and are worth a visit on your Sisyphean quest for bread nirvana. With apologies to our gluten-intolerant readers, here are our top five picks for commercial bakeries in town.
Le Pain in Gaoxin delivers what the name implies (in case your French is rusty, “pain” means “bread”). While they do have baguettes, many of their loaves have nuts and raisins and the like. The real surprises here are pretzels (!) and bagels (!!!). They aren’t quite as robust as the ones pretzel and bagel aficionados are used to but, considering the rarity of these items in Xi’an, it’s probably best not to look this gift horse in the mouth.
We’re not really sure what a Rosmitna is, but we are impressed by their confidence in saying that they are THE Rosmitna. This bakery is about bold flavors married with good baking fundamentals, ranging from garlic bread to black sesame paste bread to chocolate bread (the third of which you might find with their name written in flour on it). Just be sure to check the place out a bit on the early side because if and when the bread runs out, you’re SOL.
Kind of the outlier on our list, you should have Ole on the brain when looking for bread because there’s a refreshing lack of nonsense in their offerings, and its convenience when buying foreign ingredients for tonight’s “pretend I’m not in China” meal can’t be understated. The other big get here is nice sliced bread in a couple of different varieties, which, if you’ve forgotten, is kind of a niche product around these parts.
This is about as far off the reservation as we’re going to get this month, because Maker is probably not the place for you if you’re looking for more strictly European-style baked goods. However, there’s something about the unforgivable boldness of their creations that can’t be ignored. Interesting shapes and more colors than you knew bread could be will give patrons one of two instant reactions: either “Oh god what the hell is that?” or “I have to know what that tastes like.”
As a restaurant, Vikings got a great review from our contributors several months ago, and if you’ve had one of their sandwiches you’re probably already well acquainted with the prowess of their bakers. On top of their bread, they’ve got some killer pretzels on offer and are one of the few non-Starbucks places that have the elusive muffin. Tip for you though, know what durian looks like in Chinese before you buy an amazing-looking loaf that’s filled with a flavor you really weren’t expecting.
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