On June 18th, XIANEASE and Viva Xi’an host our first Bikes and Barbeque event. That morning, our participants met at a bike shop in the east of Xi’an and started a pleasant climb through the Qinling Mountains, ultimately ending at our BBQ spot, a campground in Bailuyuan.
My name is Justyna Szumigala. I’ve been living in Xi’an for 4 years, working for the same company, EF. I am currently a director of studies at EF Chang’An. I’ve been travelling around the world for more than 10 years, teaching English in different countries of Europe, Africa, and Asia. When I don’t teach, I like to do yoga and belly dance.
This month the AWE (Aspiring Women for Excellence) association held its one year anniversary party at Latin Bar. The event was held to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness with the funds being donated to the Xi’an Cancer Rehabilitation Association. One of the charity’s Pink Ribbon cancer survivors drum groups started the evening with a lively performance.
Fine Wines and Good Times
The end of May in Xi’an was, in a word, HOT. Cub Grocery is here to save us with cold beverages and tasty food.
For lunch, we visited the Cub Grocery in Qujiang in Liangzichen 量子晨, part of a hip new chain of café/bar/restaurant/wine stores with three other locations: one inside the city wall, one in northern Xi’an in Weiyang District, as well as a new location opening near south gate. Each location has its own kind of style and atmosphere. For example, the Weiyang Cub Grocery has a rooftop and the new location opening by south gate will focus on entertainment. The location we visited at Liangzichen has a weekly DJ and plaza to host events. It offers a comfy space for getting tipsy and being social, all in a relaxed environment.
A humble restaurant that punches well above its weight
As summer arrives and Xi’an starts heating up, the restaurant scene in Xi’an is clearly trying to keep pace with the rising temperatures. There are so many new restaurants and each new location turns up the heat.
For no restaurant is this truer than Yakitori, opened this May. Literally meaning “grilled bird,” yakitori is a Japanese type of skewer cuisine, usually chicken barbecue over charcoal and seasoned with a tare sauce (a kind of sweetened and/or thickened soy sauce) or salt. And this is exactly what is on offer here. As you walk through the door, it’s hard to say what you notice first – the large grill and exhaust hood, or the wash of mouth-watering aromas.
The bread isn’t sweet. I could probably end the review right there and it would be enough to get you to go to Ugly Bread, a bakery that has recently opened at the 西影Time Shopping Plaza next to the Movie Park. But that would be doing this shop a disservice, as they are doing much more than simply making savory bread. Opened with the idea that bread should taste good, this bakery is serving up bread with some unique and delicious flavor combos, as well as some classics bound to make you happy.
Tea is part of the inextricable cultural heritage of China. Legend states that tea was discovered by the Chinese emperor Shen Nong, and it is a beverage that has been carefully cultivated and enjoyed by the Chinese people ever since. A good cup of tea is refreshing and revitalizing, and the art of good tea preparation is what separates tea from hot leaf juice. While tea shops abound in Xi’an, there seem to be two main styles, traditional tea shops that are often stuffy and ornately decorated, with hundreds of teas to choose from that can be intimidating for the non-expert; and the modern tea shop where the tea tends to be more fruit juice than tea, and there is so much sugar that the delicate flavors of the tea and the health benefits are lost entirely. However there is a new place that looks to find a happy medium between the archaic tea shop and the modern coffee shop – DAHUA Tea Lounge.
While cities are nice, with all the cafes, restaurants, and shopping malls you might desire, during the summer months, the city becomes a bit unbearable due to the heat, mugginess, and general lack of patience that comes with it. What you need sometimes is an escape. Luckily, the mountains surrounding the city offer a variety of refuges, from camping sites to hiking trails, mountain inns and mountain springs. While getting out can be a bit difficult without transportation, it is possible.
Why, you might ask, am I pitting such two wildly different movie “franchises” (awful word) against each other? Well, there are more similarities than you might discover at first glance. Let’s compare.
Both sagas started out around the middle of the last century, (Godzilla in 1955, Bond seven years later), they both started out as straightforward, comparatively serious entries into their respective genres, which are the giant monster flick (that had its roots in King Kong and 20,000 Fathoms) and the spy caper movie (co-founded by Alfred Hitchcock) respectively. They both gradually developed a winning formula that steered them into more escapist territory during the sixties, only to simultaneously go for complete campy silliness during the 70s. Latter development was owed to Godzilla director Jun Fukuda and Bond actor Roger Moore, equally misunderstood and underrated masters in the art of high camp.
No , no , Yukun! You must wait for Granny to move the chopsticks first. ” Yukun is my Chinese first name and that is what my mother would often say when I broke the Chinese table rules during meals. Coming back to China in the summer of 2003 after living in the states for 8 years, I was only 12. I was a total stranger when it came to Chinese eating etiquettes. Let me share some eating rules and table manners with you to make your dining much more convenient and enjoyable when eating Chinese food in China.
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.
Some experiences just stick with you: your first sports game; your first kiss; or maybe a trip you took years prior. For me, one that resonates with me was my time in Japan. There were so many experiences to take in, so I can think of lots of things I enjoyed, but one I carry with me was the simple pleasure of the Izakaya. By definition, an Izakaya is a type of Japanese bar in which a variety of small, – typically inexpensive – dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks. And that’s exactly what I got while I was there. It was a relaxed drinking environment for the weary and hardworking. A place to gather and take in the people around you, while enjoying simple prepared food at a decent price. Oh, and of course you had to have a nice cold draft to chug while you ate. It was that charming and unpretentious dining experience that was so attractive, especially after running around the city chasing fancy cocktail bars, malls, and museums. It was so nice, and now I find myself longing for that same feeling after a busy day.
Tommune is probably familiar to many expats in Xi’an, as it is one of the more reasonably priced options when it comes to going out in Xi’an. With a massive selections of drinks and food, a lively environment, and friendly service, it is no surprise. Capitalizing on the success of their first location near West Gate, they have opened up a new venture in Qujiang near the BeiChiTou subway station. Since people have been so taken with the first location, we decided to go check out their newest venture to see how it stacks up.
Have you heard? There’s a new western restaurant in town that has been the talk of the town. Real, home-style Western food, something the community in Xi’an has been sorely missing, especially in this era of limited travel. But this is no mere substitute for tastes of home. The food here is legitimately good, and varied enough to satisfy any taste buds. Whether you want smash burgers, fish and chips, falafel, or delicious milkshakes, Mina’s Western Restaurant is sure to hit the spot..
Oh, man, is it hot! I’m scorching hot. I’m talking egg-frying, fire-starting, mind-numbingly hot! What is a simple drinker supposed to do in this whether that demands us to go outside, but at the same time is cooking us alive? There is of course a way to fight back against this heatwave. The magic of a refreshing drink can shield you from the sun’s vengeance, while making for a fun way to relax. The remedy to the summer burn is a refreshing drink. Now, as a man who knows his way around a bar, I know lots of refreshing drinks, so I won’t bore you with the list (in this article), but when I think of the summer heat and the need for something to cool me down, my mind goes back to one thing: bubbles.
Summer is a time for vacations, barbeques with friends, and enjoying the sunshine outdoors. Another thing that summer is known for is free time. Kids are out of school, teachers get a long break, and there are long stretches where there is little to do. And while you can fill your time with the activities above, you can also use your free time for volunteer work. While there are many ways to give back to society, one of the best ways to make an impact is volunteering with non-profit organizations that often have more to do than they can do alone. Anything can be done, from using your professional teaching or technical skills or even just lending a hand with distribution or chopping vegetables. All it really takes is a willing heart and an open mind to start making the world around you a slightly better place to live. If you are looking for a place to volunteer, below we have listed some of the charities that are operate in Xi’an.
The summer is already heating up and it can seem impossible to escape from the unrelenting furnace that is a Xi’an summer. Sure, you could hide from the heat in your home, with the A/C cranked to 11, but what’s the fun in that? No, summer heat relief comes best in the shape of a swimming pool. While it may not seem so from the outside, Xi’an actually contains a large number of swimming pools, though many of them are tucked away in building and out of sight. So here are the best places to get wet this summer.
Mr. Tony, a British engineer and businessman came to Xi’an and founded the Yellow River Soup Kitchen -a charity organization – with the money from selling his companies and assets in the UK, and has since helped thousands of people in need by routinely handing out meals, buying wheelchairs, sponsoring operations for the handicapped, and holding sport games for schools, and bringing books to pupils in the schools in remote mountainous areas. Ms. Amanda, an English teacher from South Africa in Xi’an, initially was a part-time volunteer serving the orphans in Xi’an Home Care Center, founded the Starfish Children’s Service with her personal savings, sponsored the operations for dozens of disabled orphans and helped many successfully get adopted by qualified families in foreign countries
Ayear or so ago, I posted a WeChat moment of a scene from an old Shaanxi movie and described how some of the streets I walk through in Xian at present still looked like scenes from that movie, a snapshot comparison of certain streets between now and almost thirty years ago could look identical. Though this observation was made without malice, still along this post came a critical comment from a local acquaintance exclaiming that this city is and will always be proud to maintain the traditional look it’s had over the past decades. “We want our children to experience the imagery of life we experienced while growing up”. This line felt like a pin prick in my chest, like I had deeply offended someone while at the same time I’m outwardly applauding their pride for conservation.
In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new restaurant in town that is serving up some of the best western food that Xi’an has seen in some time. Called Mina’s this restaurant has gained in popularity over the past month, with customers returning multiple times per week due to the authentic taste of home that is near impossible to find elsewhere. So, to find out more, we sat down with Steve and Dalia, the couple making Mina’s possible, to find out more about how this came about.