If you get around as much as I do (I mean that in the best way possible) you may have noticed a number of Japanese-themed bars and restaurants popping up around the local nighttime hotspots. The question is, “Are they just a passing fad or do they have some staying power?” Well, if they’re able to hit it home like the new Torikai restaurant, located just off QuJiangDaDao, right across from BeiChiTou subway station, then we may be in for a treat.
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.
With the cold weather having truly and properly announced its arrival in our city, it’s easy to just want to stay inside. Yet, I find this weather to be the ideal time to practice my favorite pastime: cafe hunting.
On a fresh Saturday afternoon, I headed out in the direction of South Gate in search of coffee. I was most delighted when I found a café at a location I’d never have thought to venture in to.
Having faced the cold on route, and admittedly getting lost (for trusting my mental compass over a map), what better feeling than being welcomed by warmth, the smell of coffee and freshly-baked croissants.
Life can get stressful at times, and sometimes you really just need to relax and unwind. This can be made difficult when living in a large city, as escaping is not always an easy thing to do. Escaping to the mountains works only if you have a car and even then, you need to have the time. What’s needed is a place that you can get to more quickly, a private oasis that you can go to amongst the concrete. That is what Lanna Spring Spa seeks to be.
Ilove cocktails. The only thing I love more than drinking a good cocktail is making one. I often come up with ideas for different cocktails as well as test them out, and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at making drinks. My friend Ben loves music – he comes up with beats in his spare time and they are usually quite good, but recently he has be neglecting his passion. So after a long talk a proposal was made, a pact if you will, to help spur his creativity and out of comradery I decided to do the same. We came up with challenges for each other; his was to come up with a complete new song in two weeks, mine was to come up with a new cocktail every week. But my challenge had a few handicaps, which lead me on a very creative and tasty journey.
It was a wet, brutally cold evening when we arrived – snowing lightly, the streets and sidewalks covered with puddles, mud, and leaves. Located a short walk from Nanshaomen Station, the neighborhood is familiar, but has undergone some recent changes. The addition of Takiyoshiya is decidedly a most welcome one.
As soon as we stepped inside, we were instantly transported to Japan: a wave of hot air washed over us, a slightly claustrophobic dining area had colorful posters advertising Suntory highballs, the glow of hidden light strips illuminated the walls, and peeking over the bar counter we could see steaming pots in the kitchen. The icing on the cake, though, was a Japanese cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” playing over the sound system.
Chuan-chuan, for the uninitiated, is a variation on hot pot that serves the typical arrangement of hot pot goods served on skewers instead of the standard trays. Skewers are counted up at the end, just like at barbeque. These restaurants have become increasingly popular over the past several years and for good reason; they offer the best of the hot pot experience, but allow you to eat a greater variety of things without having to massively extend your bill.
2020 has been a rough year for many in the hospitality industry, with many places going under as the year grinded on. But, as old places disappear, new ones pop up to fill the void and one of those is the newly opened Local Club at Localand. Located at Glorious Plaza in Gaoxin, Local Club opened up in mid-November with an idea of becoming a live music venue. .
The space is a relatively intimate one, with just a few tables with comfortable chairs and a long wooden bar with plenty of stools. There is also an upper level with additional seating. A bright neon sign lights up a small stage that has been set up for performances. The place has a very chill vibe, with just a touch of class. The bartenders are all dressed in vests and shirts, and the menu consists of a variety of cocktails, beers, and spirits to satisfy most anyone’s needs.
It used to be that a good cup of coffee was hard to find in Xi’an. Now it seems we are spoiled for choices, with coffee shops popping up everywhere, from large sprawling affairs to smaller boutique places. These places will offer up special varietals of coffee beans from the far reaches of the planet. Quality can sometimes vary though, as all the excitement surrounding coffee has not necessarily gone hand in hand with knowledge of proper preparation.
While there are many restaurants in Xi’an, most of them are faceless institutions, without a personal look or touch that separate them from any other. Often it seems like they are mere money spinners, designed to separate you from your hard-earned currency while delivering a mediocre product. So when you find a place that has a bit of a story behind it, there is immediately more interest.