Article By Mike Leaner
3F, The Ritz-Carlton, Xi’an, Keji 2 Road, Gaoxin District.
(029) 8881 8588
5:30pm – 10:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 800RMB
There are few times I’d ever use the word “opulent” seriously. For me, it’s the only word that captures a certain Gatsby-like air of decadence and luxury. There are no other words that came to mind when I was thinking about my experience at Tasuro.
Tasuro is a high-end teppanyaki restaurant on the 3rd floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Xi’an, the latest venerable brand to join the city’s cadre of luxury hotels. If you’re not familiar with teppanyaki, it’s a style of Japanese cuisine that sits diners around a flat metal grill, where they watch a chef prepare food for them, live and in-person. But lest the Americans in our readership confuse this for any of the teppanyaki chains in the States, I need to mention that a Benihana this is not—it’s far more than that, such that the comparison is totally inapt.
A meal at Tasuro is practically an event; our seven-course meal clocked in at around two hours, starting with a cold salmon appetizer prepared with miso, and ending with a slightly sour pomelo ice cream and cheesecake. However, it’s between those two dishes that the magic happened. Our chef for the night was from Osaka, and an absolute wizard on the grill. First on the docket was what the chef referred to as “Japanese foie gras”—generous slabs of foie gras grilled to a golden brown shine and served with grilled mushrooms and eggplant. Next was abalone so fresh it throbbed as it cooked, eventually finding itself sliced and plated back in its shell and topped with a sprig of asparagus and a light butter sauce, also prepared on the grill. Next came a Boston lobster, bisected and also seasoned with a grill-top butter sauce (butter became kind of a theme in this meal). Fourth in line was a steak served with freshly grilled vegetables, but also with dried flakes of garlic and wasabi, meant to be paired with the steak as it’s eaten. I’d thought this would be the end of the meal, but then the chef asked if we wanted some garlic fried rice and, in a state of total complicity, I replied, “I will eat anything you cook for me.” So we had a denouement of fried rice. Every single dish was meticulous in its preparation, imbued with paradoxically rich, yet delicate flavor that allowed each base ingredient to shine.
Before I totally lose myself remembering the sumptuous symphony of sizzle I was privy to on that September evening, we should address the elephant in the room. I’m certain, dear reader, that the fact that Tasuro is in The Ritz-Carlton, Xi’an carries a certain connotation. And your assumption is not wrong—this is a five-star experience, and you will pay for each and every star, from the impossibly smooth sake on their drink menu to the dishes you eat. But I realized something when it was over. Cynical as I normally am, I truly enjoyed every single moment of the meal: the incredible quality of the food, the thrill of watching its live preparation, the warm and charming exchanges with the chef (in broken English, in my companion’s intermediate Japanese and in Chinese through a Chinese sous chef that translated) and the “we know what you want before you want it” top-notch service one should expect from a hotel of this caliber. The price of entry is high, but hear me now and believe me later—Tasuro is something everyone should experience, if you can swing it.
Mike Leaner likes to get dirty but not for free. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org