Article By Jason Rogers
Sunken Plaza, Wan Zhong Guo Ji.
(029) 8931 3300
5:00pm – Midnight
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 206RMB
Dining out has become a hallmark of the Xi’an experience. New restaurants open weekly it seems and sifting through the sea of options can be a job. Often times, great places are lost among the many new places that pop up, which is why I always enjoy trying places that have been around and still stand out among the new guard. I got an opportunity to try such a place at Izakaya.
Located in the W Five Park, just below the W Hotel, the restaurant can be seen by the large Izakaya sign out front. If I had to summarize the vibe of this establishment, I would say attention to detail.
Once you enter the discreet sliding doors you walk into a well-decorated, intimately-lit dining area. The layout is pretty unique and definitely a cool choice. The kitchen is actually one long open grill area with seating along it. Across from the open kitchen is more seating, these are the traditional Japanese seating you would find in a restaurant like this. Immediately, I could tell as I was being seated that this is a great date spot. The interior isn’t too big so it gives a more intimate relaxed experience.
Seated and fairly hungry, I took a look at the menu and, to my surprise, the prices I saw were all pretty affordable. I should say the menu is in Chinese, without pictures, but I was able to figure out a few things to order. I went with some of their most popular dishes, grilled mushrooms, crispy chicken skin, grilled squid, and salmon sashimi. Like I said, I was pretty hungry, and as expected of an Izakaya the portions are small plate so you should order a few things. The food took a bit of time to get which is one thing to keep in mind. To help you wait, I suggest ordering a nice draft beer. It’s only appropriate for the venue. Once the food arrived, I was delighted to find everything was prepared to perfection. I was able to enjoy my crispy snacks while watching the chefs move across the kitchen, preparing meals.
After a bit of time the owner came out and spoke with us a little and recommended a few more dishes to try which I was not about to turn down. A sampler of skewers including chicken thighs and onions, chicken wing meatballs. Also a few things I couldn’t recognize, like a pickled dish where a single noodle was wrapped around each piece. Like I said the attention to detail was definitely their strong suit. The meats were moist and cooked just right. The meatballs came with a fresh egg yolk for a dipping sauce which is pretty authentic to some dishes you’ll find in Japan. We wanted to try some of the steak, but I think after all the food we ordered, they forgot. Something to look forward to for the next visit.
The combination of restaurant design, open kitchen and food will make for a good night out. Go with a couple friends or with someone special and shop around the menu. Make sure to get a couple drinks too while your food is hitting the grill and take in the whole experience. Another one to add to the list of great places to try.
Jason Rogers is a mixologist extraordinaire living in Xi’an.