About two years ago, the guys behind UVA, Fumo, and more recently Mito, opened Xixi Bistro in a quaint Wuyuan Lu lanehouse to solid reviews, a consistently packed house, and a loyal clientele. Fast forward a year later, permit issues forced them to close.
Thankfully, they weren't gone for long, bouncing back early this spring in Xintiandi. The new, more polished neighborhood called for classier decor and a more sophisticated menu, and though it's taken some time and more than one reboot, Xixi is finally hitting its stride.
A glance through the new menu reveals what feels like a brand new restaurant. Old favorites like rice bruschetta and ragu jiaozi have been replaced in favor of Eggplant (RMB58) done two ways—deep-fried, and braised with a sweet, sticky sauce—and Winter Bamboo (RMB48), which switches out chicken for large, chunks of bamboo, a clever tweak to the classic Taiwanese dish sanbeiji, or "three cups" chicken.
The Hong Shao Rou Terrine (RMB68), a quintessential Shanghainese dish given a French makeover, is one of Xixi's more innovative offerings. Paired with rice and a side of spinach salad, it's plated and served in a way that is reminiscent of dosirak—Korean tin box lunches. Slices of pickles help cut the fat, a drizzle of candied walnuts steers the dish away from being too soft and limp.
The mains section is as varied an affair, starting near home in the form of a crunchy Shanghai-style Pork Cutlet (RMB128), served with black vinegar and scallion-infused olive oil, then meandering toward Hong Kong with Wok-Fried Tiger Prawns (RMB168), done "typhoon shelter"-style with lashings of crispy, deep-fried garlic, before heading further west with the New Zealand Cod Fish (RMB218), light and delicate, sweetened with a cushion of green bean puree.
As for carbs, the Wok Sauteed Niangao (RMB78)—sticky, chewy rice cakes topped with thin shavings of black truffle—and Beef Fried Rice (RMB88), hauted up with wagyu beef and creamy bone marrow, are equally solid options.
Things looked a little wobbly for a time after the reopening—previous menus in the new space, while not terrible, failed to impress—but we're glad Xixi has managed to recover their footing. They're back doing what they do best, spinning new sides to familiar, old classics.
What: Xixi Bistro
Where: Unit 02. No. 16 Xintiandi, 181 Taicang Lu (near Huangpi Nan Lu) 太仓路181弄新天地16号02单元 (近黄陂南路)
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