Article By Thabo Jaffe
People’s Grand Xian, No.319, Dongxin Jie.
(029) 8792 7678
(029) 8792 8888-4677
6:30pm – 2:30am
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 149RMB
PROS: Easy to find, great atmosphere, no Chinese needed, unique cocktails
Koi are a fairly common kind of fish, domesticated initially for food. Only in the last 200 years has their value skyrocketed in Japan as they were then kept for their striking natural colour variations and almost magical longevity. Some koi have been reported to be over 100 years old.
There’s a lot in a name. With a name like Koi Bar, expectations are high. A part of the well-known Sofitel Hotel, you’ll find Koi Bar tucked in just to the right of the main entrance. The first thing you’ll notice as you enter is the size. This is definitely not a small bar by any means, and the walk to the bathroom is a long one. Keeping to its namesake, the look of the bar is quite Japanese, with a very modern, minimalist aesthetic, and small Zen gardens here and there.
Being part of a hotel group has some benefits. You can be assured that the friendly staff are well-trained and most can speak English. They have an extensive menu with all the bar staples, all in English. All the food, drinks, and presentation are top notch. Upstairs you’ll find the Koi restaurant. If you’re too drunk to get home, there’s a (hotel) room waiting just for you.The only downside here would be that you should expect to pay premium prices, but hey, you get what you pay for.
High-end bars are as common as fish in Xi’an, but the koi is special. Foregoing the usual mixed drinks, I decided to test out their classic cocktails, and of course, their koi originals, which at the time of writing, were priced at 68RMB and 78RMB respectively. Starting with a classic, the Moscow Mule had everything it needed, including the right amount of kick. To judge character, the next few were all originals: starting with the Chang An, which is one of the best baijiu-based cocktails I’ve ever had. Sadly, the size of the glass meant it was gone all too fast. Keeping it local, the Recalled Childhood is the only cocktail I’m aware of that includes Bing Feng (Ice Peak) and, somehow, a sprig of rosemary, while keeping those opposing ideas very palatable. Going with the theme of the bar, Bin Yin Wine is a sake-based, coconut milk cocktail which is way too easy to have too many of, as any taste of alcohol is well masked in the creamy yet refreshing accents. For those more adventurous than I, The King of Fruits contains durian – ‘nuff said.
If you’re looking for an upmarket bar with a bit of flair, Zen vibes, and colour variation, Koi Bar is your spot.
Thabo is an avid explorer and less-than-worldly South African, always in search of new experiences. Stopping just short of suicidal, he’s a true Yes Man. You can reach him via email at