Explore a Unique Cuisine
Travelling to Xi’an is an amazing experience for so many reasons and, when it comes to eating, Xi’an boasts a unique and diverse cuisine that will provide you with plenty of mouthwatering options. Xi’an people are passionate about their food and it shines through in the multitude of delicious dishes you can try.
Most of these dishes can be found on the street or at local hole-in-the-wall places making Xi’an a budget-friendly adventure for a foodie.
Due to Shaanxi’s geographical location in the centre of China, Xi’an cuisine uses different types of ingredients which derive from both northern and southern China. For example, salt, vinegar, capsicum, and garlic are frequently used, creating sour, spicy, and fragrant flavours.
If you’re short on time and want to try as many of these dishes as possible then I highly recommend this morning food and market tour.
Yangrou Paomo (yáng ròu pào mó 羊肉泡馍)
Yangrou Paomo is a delicious Xi’an speciality that comprises of mutton (sometimes substituted with beef) soup served alongside wheat flour flatbread. The hard bread is broken up into small pieces; the smaller, the better and are then added to the soup. The mixture is enjoyed with sweet crisp pickled garlic, coriander, and lashings of hot pepper sauce.
Photo credit and more information about this delicious dish at: Impressions of China.
Jiaozi (jiǎo zǐ 饺子)
Jiaozi (one style of dumpling) consists of a range of ingredients wrapped in a thin dough covering. It’s a real art form and almost too beautiful to eat.
Try not to miss Xi’an’s featured jiaozi Banquet (xī ān jiǎo zǐ yàn 西安饺子宴) if you visit. The jiaozi served in a jiaozi banquet are always made of the finest ingredients and come in unbelievable shapes like butterflies, penguins, leaves, goldfish, flowers, clouds and so on. Very much a treat for the eyes as well as the mouth.
Photo credit and more information about the Jiaozi banquet can be found at: China Culture Tour
Guan Tang Baozi (guàn tāng bāo zǐ 灌汤包子)
One of Xi’an’s most famous specialities is the guan tang baozi. They are delicate and delicious steamed buns hiding piping-hot soup within. You can usually choose from beef, lamb or the famous ‘three flavours’ – normally lamb, mushroom, and prawns.
With over ten types of seasoning, they are real delicacy. The easiest way to eat them is to poke a small hole in them with your chopsticks and suck out the soup. Sprinkle them with a little vinegar to really bring out the flavour.
The best place to try them is at Jia Brothers’ Restaurant (jiǎ sān guàn tāng bāo zǐ guǎn 贾三灌汤包子馆) on Muslim Snack Street (huí mín xiǎo chī jiē 回民小吃街).
Rou Jia Mo (ròu jiá mó 肉夹馍)
Incredibly satisfying food, rou jia mo is finely chopped pork stuffed in toasted wheat flour flatbread. A piece of good-quality bread and a bowl of mung bean flour soup will cost you less than 10 Yuan ($1.47).
You can find it easily in Xi’an and the best rou jia mo can be enjoyed in the Muslim Quarter where the filling is normally either lamb or beef. A cheap and delicious street snack.
Photo credit and more information about this amazing dish at: Top China Travel
Liangpi Noodles (liángpí 凉皮)
This wonderful noodle dish is a real staple in Xi’an. Filling and delicious, the dough is left to soak overnight and then cut by hand into thin ribbons. Other ingredients are added such as cucumber shreds, bean sprouts and then finished with spices, sesame paste and roast chilli oil. Wonderfully cheap and easy to find.
Photo credit: Find out more information and how to make Liangpi noodles (and a multitude of other fabulous dishes) at China Sichuan Food.
Don’t forget to try:
Hand stretched noodles — Part of the fun is watching them be stretched to amazing lengths and tossed around with incredible talent. There’s also no comparison with taste, they’re just outstanding. Restaurants can be recognised easily as they’ll usually have steel tables out front with buckets of greased dough balls ready to be stretched in front of you.
An obscene amount of street food — From fried Xi’anese potatoes in a cup to everything you can possibly imagine barbecued on a skewer (plenty of options for vegetarians here) this is a culture known for its particularly rich street food so eat as much as you can!
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Jess is the creator and editor of Books and Bao. She's passionate about the world, it's literature, food, culture, and people. She enjoys sharing her travel tips with others and capturing those perfect moments.