Xi’An is the capital of the Shaanxi province and means “Western Peace.” The center of Xi’An is surrounded by a city wall that was built in the early Ming Dynasty. Famous for its sites like the Terracotta Army, the Bell and Drum Towers, the City Wall, and Emperor Qin’s Unopened Tomb, this ancient city is full of interesting culture and food! Tickle your taste buds with these top 10 foods you absolutely have to try while staying in Xi’An.
You can find all of these foods and restaurants on the Spoonhunt App.
10. Biangbiang Noodles 油泼扯面
Known for being the most complicated Chinese character that exists (seriously my computer can’t even type it), Biangbiang Noodles are a Xi’An specialty. These broad noodles are handmade and relatively thick. They are flash-boiled and served with vinegar, chilis, garlic and Chinese cabbage. They are very savory and chewy thanks to the egg and flour that make the noodles.
9. Persimmon Cake 柿子饼
Often called Persimmon Donuts, these dessert pastries have a very unique texture. The outside is deep fried in oil making the exterior crispy, but the inside is completely chewy dough, much like mochi. Found all around the center of Xi’An, this dessert helps relieve thirst and is usually only available around the fall and winter.
8. Pomegranate Juice 石榴汁
In the fall, Pomegranate Juice is the most popular drink of choice for people in Xi’An, especially around the Terra Cotta Soldiers. The taste is naturally tart but sugar can be added to make them really sweet. The juice is very good for your colon and goes great with the skewers you can find on the infamous Muslim street near the Bell Tower.
7. Cold Noodles 凉皮
One half of the Xi’An “happy meal,” cold noodles are a staple for the smaller snack shops along with the Chinese Hamburger. Unlike Biangbiang mian, these noodles are thinly sliced and boiled. When ready, they are set aside until they cool. The texture is silky and the toppings include chili oil, pepper powder, vinegar and bean sprouts or cucumbers to give it a spicy flavor.
6. Fried Grass Jelly 炒凉粉
Made from mung bean starch, another famous Xi’An dish involves stir frying the translucent cubes of grass jelly with sauce and vegetables. In Sichuan, grass jelly is served cold, but in Xi’An it’s served hot and a little bit crispy. It’s not as spicy as the Sichuan version, but it’s served in a paper bowl to carry around the Muslim Quarter.
5. Fried Potatoes 炒土豆
Another street snack favorite that you can easily find in the Muslim Quarter is Fried Potatoes. The potatoes are really small and round and boiled before being stir-fried. They get stir-fried over a flame in a shallow wok while chili, garlic, green onions, sesame and other spices are added to the process. You can ask for whatever ingredients you’d like added in and carry around with you.
4. Flatbread and Mutton Soup 羊肉泡馍
Most restaurants along the Muslim Quarter serve their own version of Flatbread and Mutton Soup. You’ll be served a few flatbreads that you tear up into small, chickpea sized pieces and place in a bowl. When you’re done, they take your bowl back to the kitchen and add rice noodles, braised mutton and vegetables. It’s a social meal that lots of locals like to enjoy together.
3. Hot and Sour Dumpling Soup 酸汤水饺
Different dumpling varieties can be found all over China. In Xi’An the specialty dumpling is Hot and Sour Dumpling Soup. Regular Shuijiao dumplings are boiled in Hot and Sour soup to give the dumplings extra flavor. Sesame seeds, leeks and cilantro add to the broth’s flavor and give you a unique aftertaste.
2. Lamb Skewers 羊肉串
A popular Muslim snack all over China are lamb skewers, so obviously the Muslim Quarter in Xi’An has them! Foreigners and Chinese people alike love these tasty and cheap snacks. For lamb, cumin is the main spice added on top to give it a perfectly savory taste. If lamb isn’t for you, you can find different meat and vegetable skewers on the street.
1. Chinese Hamburger 肉夹馍
Arguably the most famous and popular Xi’An food/snack is the Chinese hamburger. Instead of ground beef like a regular hamburger, the Chinese Hamburger is made of chopped pork that has been stewed in a variety of spices for hours. The bun is flat and pan-fried to ensure the meat and juices won’t leak out. This #1 food is an absolute must try.
To find any of these foods at place near you, search their names in the Spoonhunt app!
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