Xi’an is well-known for its distinctive mix of street food, and some of the best places to find some local cheap eats are in the Muslim Quarter, close to the Drum Tower in the center of the old town. This is a vibrant area inhabited by over 20,000 Muslims, with about ten mosques, which represents the unique amalgamation of Chinese and Muslim influences. This combination is also found in the food, such as hand-cut wheat noodles, Shaanxi-style flatbread hamburger (rou jia mo) and spicy roast beef and lamb kebabs. The yangrou paomo is also a must-try, consisting of crumbled bread in mutton or beef soup. These street-treats are best enjoyed after a visit to the wonderful oasis of calm that is the Great Mosque of Xi’an.
Sofitel Xian houses several upmarket restaurants serving Chinese, Mediterranean, Moroccan and Brazilian cuisines. Koi is the hotel’s Japanese restaurant, conveniently placed at the front of the hotel, offering teppanyaki tables and a sushi bar, as well as private tatami rooms. The sleek Japanese décor and relaxed atmosphere perfectly match the food, which is prepared by Japanese-trained chefs. Expect good quality seafood, grilled squid and succulent Australian beef, as well as rice bentos and hot pot. In a city of rich Chinese cuisine, Koi offers a light, but delicious alternative.