Xixi Bistro, take two: the fusion eatery has returned after closing last year, this time in Xintiandi. If there’s anything to love, it’s the stylish interior: bright red patches of bold floral wallpaper, glowing lanterns, a mishmash of dinnerware patterns and a layout that feels like a lane house. The first two floors have two cocktail bars, while dining ensues on the third.
If you never visited the old Xixi, it was known for providing a love-it-or-hate-it kind of dining experience. Seems spot-on for a place making the risky move of fusing two of the world’s greatest cuisines: Chinese and Italian.
The menu is mostly tapas-style; small plates ranging 30-65RMB. To no surprise, rich foie gras does not pair well with oily scallion pancakes, nor does cold tofu ‘cheese’ earn the place of buffalo mozzarella alongside Parma ham and tomatoes. Pesto fried rice lacks flavour and there’s a not-crispy parmesan crisp stuck to it via a ghastly blob of mayo. The highlight of the meal is the plate of crunchy Bolognese spring rolls, mainly because they’re what you make on a drunken evening when your mate says ‘fuck it, let’s just wrap up this meat sauce.’
The cocktails are nice, but you can stay at the bar for those.
It’s great that Xixi is trying to be creative – boldly going where few people have gone with fusion… seeming for good reason, sadly. With such a cool space, you’ll wish the team would just stick to quality Chinese food. Hell, do Italian and throw some Sichuan peppercorns in your arrabiata if you must. But what’s on now doesn’t fly.
Go for the experience, but as things stand, there’s not much reason to return.
By Elysia Bagley