Article By Stephen Robinson
1F, the Renaissance Hotel Xi,an, No.355, Hui Xin Road, Qujiang New District.
(029) 6563 3333
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 110RMB
There are many delicious cuisines across China, but one of the most unique and flavorful amongst them is also the one most people are least familiar with – Xinjiang Cuisine. The flavors of this province’s robust cuisine is closely related to its historical position along the Silk Road, and the style is unlike anything you will find elsewhere. However, it can be difficult to find a reasonable approximation of Xinjiang cuisine in Xi’an. Much like the scant number of edible Western dining options, the number of good Xinjiang restaurant in Xi’an are few, despite the popularity of the cuisine. So if you are looking for a reliable source of delicious Xinjiang food, you can try Si at the Renaissance Hotel.
Located near the TV Tower, the Renaissance hotel is a recognized five-star hotel brand by Marriott. Tapping into the history of Xi’an as the terminus of the Silk Road, the restaurant pulls its name from the Chinese word for Silk, Si. True to its name, the hotel provides a wide range of beef, lamb, and chicken dishes, including (if you book ahead of time) a whole roasted lamb. But even if you don’t want to go for the extravagance of eating an entire animal, there are still plenty of options for you.
On the day we arrived at the restaurant, just right of the main lobby of the Renaissance, the cold weather had just begun to set in outside. The dining room is relatively small compared to some hotel restaurants, but there is a large open kitchen where you can see the chefs preparing some of the dishes, including a large pit for the turning of the whole roasted lamb.
The first dish that we tried was a classic cold dish of 椒麻鸡, a spicy mixture of cooked chicken, peppers, onions, and scallions in a picante sauce. The heat was just enough to open up the taste buds for the meal to come. Alongside this was a vegetable dish called 戈壁滩炝拌沙葱, which was a green, string-like vegetable in a vinegary sauce. It too was very refreshing, and left us hungry for more.
Following this was one of my all-time favorite Xinjiang dishes, 烤包子 or oven-roasted baozi. Typically these are little pockets of cumin-scented lamb and onion that are packed into flaky dough that is then roasted in a traditional style oven. Si takes it a step further by also including a variation that used de-shelled crayfish as a filler instead of lamb. Both versions were delicious and disappeared quickly from the table.
This was followed by a unique dish that I had never heard of before, 喀什肚包肉 or Kashgar Meat stuffed-stomach. Not just a description of how you’ll feel after eating, this is almost like a meat dumpling, but instead of dough on the outside, you have a layer of beef tripe. This is served in a thin broth with cilantro and chili sauce on the side. We were also served some of their homemade yogurt, which came with a little fruit and a sprig of mint on top. It was smooth, creamy and thick, just the way yogurt should be.
After this, a series of classic dishes arrived at the table, including Xinjiang’s most famous dish – 大盘鸡. This dish, translated as “Big Plate of Chicken” is a staple of Xinjiang Cuisine and absolutely packed with flavor. It consists of large pieces of chopped chicken, potatoes, onions, and peppers in a thick, spicy sauce. This hearty dish is served with some plain hand-pulled noodles which were mixed into the sauce once room was made. (It was a BIG plate of chicken.) We were also served a dish of stewed beef, onions, and pepper with a cone of the Xinjiang flat bread, nang. Similar in many ways to the 大盘鸡 this dish, called 馕包肉, is tender and flavorful, and the crisp nang bread soaks up the sauce very well. We were also treated to some traditional Xinjiang-style barbeque, which was heavily-spiced chunks of meat skewered on a special type of wood that added an excellent cinnamon-lie fragrance to the meat.
The final dish to arrive was a special dish created by the chef that was meant to utilize the current season. This dish, a Western-inspired dish, was a whole crab that had been carefully baked in tinfoil on a bed of well-cooked vegetables. The dish was laced with butter and herbs, and was extremely fragrant when unwrapped. The meat of the crab was sweet and light, a perfect end after such a heavy meal.
If you have a craving for Xinjiang food or if you are looking to try it for the first time, you can’t go wrong with Si at the Renaissance. They are also one of the few restaurants to maintain a five-star rating on 大众点评 and would love for you to come by and find out why. And if you feel they deserve it, drop them a review on the app.
If you have a chance to try this restaurant and you’d like to tell us about your experience, let us know by contacting out official WeChat account or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Robinson is the editor-in-chief at xianease and would love to get your thoughts on everything we are doing.You can contact him at email@example.com