Article By Jin and Francis
1F, Block 2, #6 Building, Zhong Lou Xiao Question.
11:00am – 8:00pm
Average Price per Person /人均消费: 80RMB
Fresh Flavors in a Private Space
The heat of this June was brutal. While we haven’t yet been able to escape to the breezy Qingdao seaside or to the dry dunes of Dunhuang, we did find respite at the Moli Restaurant during a weekend lunch hour.
Situated deep in the Zhonglou Xiaoqu, a mixed residential-commercial area immediately southwest of the Xi’an Bell Tower roundabout, Moli is a bit difficult to find. To get there, you will need to navigate around several corners and inevitably pass numerous traditional Shaanxi snack stalls and small restaurants peddling local dishes. The searching is well worth it though – Moli is the only Western restaurant in the area, and it offers several wonderfully pleasant surprises.
As soon as you sit down, the hostesses will greet you with cups of cold jasmine-infused water, true to their restaurant’s namesake. We were also quickly served freshly-brewed iced coffees. Moli holds the distinction of being the number-one establishment in Beilin District ranked by service rating on the app Dazhong Dianping, and this is clearly no accident. The owners make their care for each patron known through meticulous attention to detail.
We started our meal with a roast pumpkin and chicken salad. The pumpkin was lightly seasoned over a bed of fresh greens and cherry tomatoes. Next was a smoked salmon eggs benedict that was delightfully presented with an arrangement of fruit and cereals. The poached eggs were perfect – bright yellow yolks running forth when cut and topped with a fresh, creamy hollandaise. This was followed up by a burrata salad – a ball of buffalo cheese, also affectionately known in Chinese as a “cheese baozi” (baozi nailao 包子奶酪). The burrata came with a mix of freshly cut fruit – apples, strawberries, tomatoes, and mango.
The pasta arrived next. The first was Jin’s favorite – a creamy truffle-flavored mushroom sauce with bacon bits. Francis’ favorite though, was the bowl of fusilli that followed and was covered with a hearty portion of fresh pesto sauce and pine nuts. There aren’t many restaurants in Xi’an that make pesto, let alone fresh pesto served in such a generous portion. We also looked at the prices – the value for these dishes makes this even more of a standout. Even in Xi’an where western food tends to be a fraction of the price of the same food in Beijing or Shanghai – Moli offers exceptional affordability and value in each course.
As for the space, it used to be an Airbnb-style hostel. If you want a private room, just ask in advance. Over the course of 8 months and after several interruptions from the pandemic, the owners remodeled the hostel into a restaurant. The discerning customer will be able to identify the hobbies of the owners from some of the decorations. Hanging on the whitewashed walls is artwork from one of the owners. Atop furniture in the hallway is a saxophone, another possession of one of the owners. The playlist is easygoing and represents the owner’s ideal of creating a relaxing escape for their patrons.
A few additional notes. While they have only been open about a month, the restaurant is already wildly popular on the weekends (after the zhongkao and gaokao examinations, the line to eat at Moli wrapped around the corner). If you are looking to go for brunch, be sure to reserve your seats or show up early. They do have some limited outdoor seating.
Jin and Francis are both teachers in Xi’an and love exploring food. They can be contacted at email@example.com and francis@xianease
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