Article by Francis and Jin
25F, InterContinential Xi’an North, No.120, Feng Cheng 8th Road.
(029) 8665 9709
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 600RMB
Let us start by saying Char takes food, drink, and service to a new level – in every sense of the phrase.
Situated on the 25th floor of the recently opened Intercontinental Hotel, the restaurant design accentuates its elevated position. All tables, including ours, had majestic and unobstructed views through floor-to-ceiling windows of northern Xi’an: the Xi’an City Sports Park and the Xi’an City Government Building. Interior decoration featured a transparent meat case with views into the kitchen, a champagne chilling station, an extensive temperature-controlled wine display, and dining chairs adorned with leather straps and belt buckles evoking cowboys of the outback or American Wild West.
We started off the meal with some small bites, bread and herb butter, and two salads. The first featured greens, tomato jelly, caviar, and lobster: colorful, delicately arranged, and composed of the freshest ingredients. The second was an apple and beet salad, set in an apple jelly, topped with a lime-avocado sherbet, and garnished with dill and mint leaves: delightfully refreshing.
Next, we enjoyed two different soups. The first was pureed asparagus with scallop and leafy greens. The second was a clear beef broth with mushrooms, orzo, and Kōbe beef. If you are into molecular gastronomy or culinary constructivism (or whatever you prefer to call it), then these certainly deserve your attention.
As an appetizer, we had seared scallops paired with two different sauces, of which our favorite was an especially flavorful tomato.
For a main course, we sampled a filet and a ribeye, both of which were accompanied by a variety of grilled vegetables. The steaks were both exceptional cuts – Char uses certified American, Australian, Japanese, and other beef, depending on your order. The highlights, however, were Char’s artistic flairs in presenting the steaks. The first is a sort of “salt flight” – a wooden board on top of which are six small cups of different varieties of salt. Additionally, we were presented with a choice of six different steak knives, each carefully selected for their material composition and given traditional names from ancient Chinese poetry according to their aesthetics. Our server was knowledgeable and explained each knife in detail. Jin’s favorite was the Damascus steel, named 皱清波 (zhouqingbo, ripples of clear waves).
Finally, we concluded the meal with a dessert platter: two sorbets, a “deconstructed lemon pie” (lemon sauce, meringues, nuts, and crumbs), and our personal favorite – a cheesecake with honey and jam sauces. Choosing deserts is so difficult – this certainly made it easy for us.
An overall comment on service – the staff were each exceptionally knowledgeable, accommodating, and responsive. The food arrived in slow waves. We spent more than two hours leisurely appreciating the food and the view.
Francis is not a professional sommelier, but he notes that the wine list is exceptional in its composition, opulence, and diversity in terroir. For those unwilling to spend several thousand yuan on a Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Char also features select reds, whites, rosés, and bubbly, all more affordable and by the glass. Several set meal deals include bottles. Note they have both fixed and seasonal menus – always call ahead of time to confirm details.
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Francis and Jin are both teachers in Xi’an who enjoy gourmet meals. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com