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A delicious culinary escape in Xi'an | Updated: 2012-11-12 16:16

Xi'an is a place filled with eclectic flavors from around Shaanxi Province, across China, the breadth of Asia, and around the world. While I venture forth everyday to a handful of local noodle and dish restaurants for my daily sustenance, I would like to talk about a western-style restaurant.

I know many readers tend to find local hidden gems and out-of-the-way places that serve "authentic" dishes, but let me assure you that a Japanese branded Italian fine dining restaurant specializing in salads and Italian-style pizza's is a rarity and with its location in the north street of Xi'an, it is indeed a hidden gem and literal definition of out-of-the-way.

Colabo is one of those places that once you set foot inside you realize that you are in for a good meal. The fact that it's in one of the most obscure locations a restaurant could be in only adds to the atmosphere that you have truly found one of Xi'an's hidden gems that will be added to your list of frequent spots that answer the age-old question, "What do you want to eat tonight?"

With its simple and soft atmosphere the dining room feels perfect whether it's a quiet dinner for two or a night out with friends. More than just a "pretty face", the Colabo staff is multilingual (Chinese, English, and Japanese) and professionally trained in not only their restaurant menu but also in western restaurant culture which means not having to call "Fuwuyuan!" every time you want your glass refilled with water. This alone makes this eatery an oasis, an escape, and a place to relax.

With a name like Colabo it's of course Italian and that means not only does your mouth water at the pastas and salads, but the pizzas are some of the best in the city. With the right amount of sauce, cheese and toppings I'm not sure where else in Xi'an you can find a European-styled pizza that tops this one.

Another specialty is Colabo's tenderloin steak, not some thin piece of hide but a proper, thick, amazingly prepared for under 90 yuan (about $13). With imported, Chinese, and house wines that can be matched to your order, a full service bar menu that won't break the bank, and of course cold beer year round, you've just put together a meal and a half.

After a fantastic meal, it's time to talk about dessert, from homemade cakes, puddings, and ice creams; nothing will say caloric overload like finishing off your meal with one of these little sweet delights. Made fresh daily it's a sin to say no, and a sin to say yes.

There's also a daily lunch set menu and promotional items for dinner so you don't have to cringe when you get the bill. The lunch set menu is 40 or 50 yuan per person and a full dinner meal per person averages between 45 and 100 yuan. The money spent on this meal is paid back in full by needing a walk afterwards just to keep your waistline from expanding further.

Add all this up and not only will you have found a great restaurant that won't break the bank but you will also probably have found a place where the food tastes amazing every time.

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