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Born in Hong Kong and raised in Australia, Jessie has always had a love for adventure and learning about different cultures. A software developer by trade, you'll never see her without her MacBook.

. China

Top foods you must try in Xi'an (Savoury Edition)

Xi'an, the capital of the Shaangxi province in China, is famous for its street food, especially those found at Muslim Street (also known as the Muslim Quarter) in the city centre. Good luck trying to stick to your diet when you're at Muslim Street! Here are our top must-eats at Xi'an.

Beef or Lamb Rou Jia Mo (Beef or Lamb Meat in a Bun)

Lamb rou jia mo,
Lamb rou jia mo

Rou jia mo is sort of like a Chinese hamburger, except this is a must-try food in Xi'an. So what is it made up of? Baked bread, filled with braised meat which is usually shredded by hand. At the Muslim Quarter, people will queue for days for some good lamb rou jia mo!

Found at various stalls along Muslim Street.

Liangpi Noodles (Cold noodles)

Liangpi Noodles
Liangpi Noodles

Liangpi are one of those foods, along with the lamb rou jia mo, that really defines the food scene in Xi'an. Liangpi noodles are essentially thin, cold noodles which are tossed (or topped) with cucumber shreds, bean sprouts and a sauce that is made from sesame paste, black vinegar, pepper and roasted chilli oil.

Found at various stalls along Muslim Street.

Yang Rou Pao Mo (Pita Bread in Lamb Soup)

Yang rou pao mo, pita bread in lamb soup
Yang rou pao mo, pita bread in lamb soup

As someone who originates from Southern China, I've grown up with stir fried noodles and dumplings. However, until I went to Xi'an I had never seen Pao Mo, a specialty food from the Shaanxi Province of China. So what is it? It's a bowl of lamb soup which is filled with lamb meat, vermicelli and small bits of pita bread.

This dish also has a very interesting back story. It is said that the first emperor of the Song dynasty, after a long journey, he threw some hard, inedible bread (the only food he had), into some lamb broth and ate it. After the emperor ascended to the throne, he returned to the shop that gave him the broth, remade the dish and hence named it "yang rou pao mo".

As a side dish, do as the locals would and get some sweet pickled garlic.

Where to get yang rou pao mo:

  • Lao BaiJia PaoMo Guan ($) Bei Lin District Bei YuanMen 67, Xi'an, China

Kebabs

Making lamb kebabs
Making lamb kebabs

Lamb skewers are a HUGE thing, especially along Muslim Street. While these are no different to the kebabs you may be used to outside of Xi'an, make sure to try some anyway!

Found at various stalls along Muslim Street.

Biang Biang Noodles

You may notice these signs at Muslim Street with a SUPER complex Chinese character, Biang, which is actually the most complex Chinese character there is. It's called ‘biang' because that's the sound of when the flour hits the wood when noodles are being made.

In fact, Biang biang noodles are famous for their complex character, and also for how thick and wide the noodles are. In one bowl, you can easily just have one noodle! They are served similar to the liangpi noodles, with vinegar, peppers and garlic. If you're lucky, you might be able to see them making the actual noodles on the streets at the Muslim Quarter.

Found at various stalls along Muslim Street.

Dumpling Banquet

Dumpling banquet Xi'an selection
Dumpling banquet Xi'an selection

The only must-eat on this list that can't be found at Muslim Street. I'm sure most of you would've had dumplings somewhere, sometime. If not China, then maybe you've tried steamed Xiao Long Bao dumplings or wontons overseas. One of the earliest records of the dumpling banquet dates back to the Tang dynasty where a course of 24 dumplings was presented to the then-emperor. The capital of China at the time was Chang'an, which is now known as Xi'an, which is why Xi'an is regarded as the birthplace of the great dumpling tradition.

The dumpling banquet which is available at many restaurants in Xi'an is amazing in that you get to try many types of dumplings - from fried dumplings to sweet dumplings to tiny dumplings in soup. Make sure you try it while you're in Xi'an!

Where to have a dumpling banquet: