Uncovering ExpatOwned Restaurants in Xian China

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Xi'an, the ancient capital of China, is home to an eclectic mix of cultures, languages, and cuisines. While the tourist trail is replete with popular restaurants and street food stalls, there exists a less-explored culinary haven for expats. Buried in the city's nooks and crannies, expat-owned restaurants are serving up world-class cuisine, injecting flavors and cultural influences into the local dining scene that rivals the best in the world. This article aims to unveil these hidden culinary treasures, delving into diverse menus, sharing insights from expats, and celebrating the unique flavors that define the expat dining scene in Xi'an, China.

Guiding You to Xi'an's Hidden Gems

Xi'an's expat dining scene is a mosaic of quaint bistros, cosy cafes, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants away from the tourist hubbub. These establishments offer an authentic dining experience that transcends the flavors of the city, with menus that range from traditional favourites to innovative fusion creations. Here's a round-up of five such restaurants:

  • In a city that's home to centuries-old eateries, Burger Boss, an expat-owned joint that serves juicy burgers, is a gateway to Western cuisine. Order the D.A.D. (double Angus double cheese) burger and savor the freshly baked buns, crispy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and perfectly cooked beef patties, which are handmade daily with essence infused from specially selected South African beef. The burgers offer the perfect balance of taste and texture, accompanied by tantalizing fries and killer dips.
  • The smell of fresh bread fills the small and intimate space as you step into Le Bistrot de Xi'an, a French-owned restaurant that registers guests in the traditional Parisian manner with a pen and paper. Baguettes, croissants, and omelettes featuring ham, cheese, and mushrooms feature prominently on the menu. The restaurant's walls are adorned with posters from French films, and the dishes are imbued with the taste of France that transports you back in time.
  • What began as a passion project for expat Jake Acton, Speakeasy has grown from a small homebrew setup to a bustling brewery that serves a range of locally brewed ale, lager, and craft beer. The space is vintage with over 50 beer taps and a collection of brew memorabilia that makes for the perfect evening out with friends. While the drinks menu is predominantly alcoholic, there's a small non-alcoholic menu that caters to a broader audience.
  • Le Potager du Marquis is a hidden gem tucked away behind a resplendent wooden ceiling structure. The restaurant is run by French expats who offer an eclectic spread made with fresh and locally sourced ingredients. From foliage-layered vegetable terrines to duck confit, Le Potager's menu leaves an indelible impression on one's taste buds, with dishes that are as delightful to the eyes as they are to the mouth.
  • Gudu Cuisine is a Chinese restaurant that combines traditional flavours with a unique twist infused by the South African owners. The menu's aromas are a cacophony of flavours, from the salty and savoury taste of soy sauce to the tanginess of vinegar. The peanut butter sauce atop grilled pumpkin is a surprising delight, while the ribs glazed with honey and barbeque sauce will immensely gratify your sweet-spicy cravings.

Experiences Shared By Expat Diners

Expat living may sometimes feel like isolation, especially if expats are new to a place altogether. However, dining at these restaurants provides a sense of community and familiarity, culminated by the warmth of the locals and expats sharing streetside tables. A unifying theme across all these restaurants is the passion to provide customers with an authentic culinary experience. Guests at Le Potager du Marquis say that dining at the restaurant is like "living in a French boulangerie." They speak affably of Alexis, the head chef, with praise for his expertise, creativity, and dedication to superior service. At Speakeasy Brewery, expat patrons share how their thirst for an extensive variety of beer flavours is satiated by the exceptional range of beverages crafted by Acton. The restaurant's ambiance adds to the overall experience quality, making for the perfect evening out. Expats at Burger Boss take pride in their love for juicy burgers and fries and share how their meals at Burger Boss reminisce the home-cooked meals they enjoyed back home. The eatery's owner, Dave Buck, makes it a point to hear their suggestions and feedback over meals. The Founders of Gudu Cuisine, husband-wife duo Liman Wu and Dexter Hayden, also run a clinical consulting firm together. They offer a unique dining experience by fusing Asian, African, and European flavours, delicately balancing the tangy, sour, sweet, and salty tastes. Gudu Cuisine's patrons remark that the ambiance is homely and warm, making them feel like they're dining at home.

From Appetizers to Desserts

Expat-owned restaurants in Xi'an, China, offer an array of culinary delights across diverse menus. From appetizers to desserts, the flavours are nuanced and decimal, catering to an extensive range of dietary preferences. Here's a sneak peek into the diverse menus available at the five restaurants.

Burger Boss

Burger Boss offers a range of mouthwatering dishes, ranging from starters to desserts. At the outset, we recommend trying the Juicy Boom shrimp cocktail: the plump prawns are cooked to perfection, coated in a tangy cocktail sauce that's both sweet and spicy. The crispy chicken strips are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The onion rings and fries are hot, freshly cooked, and delicious. The burgers at Burger Boss include: The Big Mufakwu (ZAR 79), which features succulent beef, bacon, pepper sauce, cheese, lettuce, and tomato, and the Veggie Fantastic (ZAR 79), which features fresh veggies like mushroom, beetroot, lettuce, cherry tomato, and carrot with a gravy sauce.

Le Bistrot de Xi'an

Le Bistrot de Xi'an's menu changes seasonally, with an emphasis on fresh and locally sourced ingredients. However, some delights we'd recommend trying include: The croque-madame (ZAR 59) employs a buttery brioche and smoked ham, perfectly paired with a sunny-side-up egg, and complemented by lettuce and béchamel sauce. The cèpe lin fun (ZAR 69) comprises mushrooms sautéed in garlic, butter, and parsley with steamed egg bein fun. Other popular items include the ham and cheese croissant (ZAR 39) and l'œuf à la coque (ZAR 29).

Speakeasy Brewery

Speakeasy's menu complements its extensive beer setup, with over 50 beer taps and a collection of brew memorabilia. It has a small non-alcoholic menu with starters, mains, and pizzas. Begin your meal with the Buffalo Pretzel (ZAR 55), thick and buttery pretzels deep-fried and coated in house-made buffalo sauce. The crispy lamb chops (ZAR 135) are savoury and juicy, with a perfect balance between saltiness and crunchiness, while the chicken wings (ZAR 79) are much-loved and packed with flavour. Speakeasy's signature pizza (ZAR 129) features an array of toppings, with options like tomato, bacon, olives, pepperoni, and onions, leaving you spoilt for choice. The crowd's favorite, however, is the spicy chicken wings pizza (ZAR 149), a delightful combination of pizza and chicken, served hot and fresh out of the oven.

Le Potager du Marquis

Le Potager du Marquis's menu boasts an exquisite culinary journey, starting from the vegetable terrine, comprising foliage, orange, grapefruit, kiwi, cucumber, and La Choiselienne platter featuring foie gras pâté, duck terrine, and chicken terrine with fig jam, walnut sauce, and compote fruit. Le Potager offers a range of rice dishes, pasta dishes, and stews, such as Gras Horizon (ZAR 219), Filet de Boeuf Grillé (ZAR 189), and T-bone Eteint Peche (ZAR 189). The freshly made fruit tart (ZAR 69) for dessert is a perfect close to a sumptuous dining experience.

Gudu Cuisine

Gudu's menu comprises an exciting fusion of African, Asian, and European cuisines, showcasing the eatery's South African roots. The starter barbecue chicken wings (ZAR 59) are coated in a spicy ginger and garlic barbecue sauce, while the seafood specials like prawn cocktail (ZAR 69), butter prawns (ZAR 99), and fish cakes (ZAR 59), are a delight to the eyes and the taste buds.

Join the Conversation!

We would love to hear your experiences of dining at these expat-owned restaurants in Xi'an. Do comment below to share your favourite dishes, gluten-free meal options, and your overall dining experience at these establishments. The expat community, these restaurants, and their flavours paint a colourful picture, one that's both delectable and inviting.

Conclusion: Uncovering Xi'an's Foodscape

Xi'an is a city that brims with diverse flavours, textures, and cuisines, and these hidden expat-owned restaurants soon to become mainstream add another layer of richness to its culinary landscape. The five restaurants we've explored serve as vehicles for cultural and social exchange, ushering in the flavours of the world while celebrating the local essence. Xi'an's expat community is growing, and these establishments offer a comfortable home away from home, where the dishes are as warm as the hospitality.