Article By Stephen Robinson
1F, Han Sheng Shopping Mall, Wen Jing Road.
(029) 8618 1301
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 80RMB
Leban is a name that many foreigners in Xi’an are familiar with, as they have been operating for many years at this point (we wrote about their first location all the way back in October 2015). In the time since their inception, the café and bakery has expanded out to many locations throughout the city, expanding their menu and refining their craft in order to deliver a consistent, high-quality product.
Their newest venture is no exception, venturing for the first time to the north of the city. Located at the Wenjing Lu subway stop, not far from the government center at XingZhengZhongXin, this Leban has upped their game quite a bit, having more seating (indoor and outdoor) and an more extensive menu than any of their other locations. The interior is decorated in a modern chic style, with low tables and chairs – not the best if you’re tall – as well as some booth seating and regular-sized tables and chairs. There is a sliding wall that gives you access to the mall, if you’re into the whole secret panel door feel.
The menu will look familiar to those who have frequented the other Leban locations, with selections of breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, soups, and desserts, with a few extras. This location has an expanded menu, including additional items in each category, as well as more coffee options than other locations. These options include Seafood Udon, Croque Madame, soups, and several different desserts. There is also a kids menu which allows you to order things tailor-made for tiny tastes.
One of the newer sections on the Leban menu is the poke bowls, a series of dishes will a mix of ingredients, usually seafood, over chilled rice. We tried the Grilled Eel Poke Bowl, which contained grilled eel topped with flying fish roe, cashews, avocado, scrambled eggs, kelp, and pickled ginger, all atop a mixture of rice. The sweetness of the eel sauce mixed with the saltiness of the kelp and the sharpness of the ginger combined to create a taste not dissimilar to many sushi meals. The portion size is adequate for a light meal, but if you’re hungry, you might want to order a little something extra.
The next item up was an acai bowl, recommended by the manager. Famous for its purported health benefits, the acai is blended into a thick smoothie like paste which, in this case, is topped with fresh bananas, strawberries, blueberries, coconut flakes, granola, and chia seeds. Everything tasted very fresh, with the overall dish coming across like a fruit-filled sorbet. It is very cold, so this dish might be better served in summer to combat the heat.
We were also served a seafood udon noodle, served with shavings of bonito. The seafood flavors were strong but fresh, and the noodles were well cooked. This was followed up with dessert, which consisted of two of their newest offerings. One was a tiramisu, loosely constructed from a pile of espresso-dipped lady fingers and creamy custard, all dusted with a generous portion of cocoa powder. This tiramisu is different from others that you might get in Xi’an. Instead of a perfectly edged cube with soggy cookies, this was clearly constructed to order, with crisp cookies. One of the nicer tiramisus to be had in Xi’an. The other dessert was a light, cream-filled sponge cake topped with a white icing and plenty of fresh fruit. It was surprisingly good, with nuts sprinkled across the top for an added crunch.
The coffee was also good, as is per usual at Leban. There was a new coffee drink on the menu, simply labeled as ‘Dirty’, with no Chinese translation. It turns out that a dirty is a shot of espresso pulled over cream, with no added sugar or flavorings. If you like a heavy, creamy coffee, this is perfect for you.
Leban has maintained its commitment to using high quality ingredients and creating a great and healthy café experience. This will be a welcomed addition for those who are living in the north of the city, and it might just be worth a venture to up there to try out some of their unique menu items. To go to the shop, take line 4 to WenJing Lu, then walk south out of Exit C for about 340 meters, until you see the shop.
If you give this a try, let us know about your experience by messaging us at firstname.lastname@example.org.