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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top 4 Chinese dishes you can't miss in Xi'an - Tasting culture through culinary experiences
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 4 Chinese dishes you can't miss in Xi'an - Tasting culture through culinary experiences

Being a blend of many cultures due to its history with the Tang dynasty, Xi'an in central China is a place that shows its concoction of cultures through its food.


Yangrou Paomo

Yangrou Paomo, meaning flatbread in mutton soup, is the one dish that all locals would certify represents the true spirit of Xi'an. It is a heavenly dish that is a treat to both the taste buds and the olfactory senses, a rich mutton broth with shredded flatbread. The dish can be quite spicy, as is the case with many of the local dishes. However, no place, not even the most high end Xian Restaurant will serve it the way it is eaten. To eat this dish the right way, you have some work to do. You will first be served two pieces of flatbread, called "mo". Your job is to shred them into small pieces, ideally pieces the size of soybeans. This is the time locals usually gossip and share stories from their day, while the hands are kept busy shredding. The shredded mo is then returned to the kitchen in your bows, where it is cooked in a mutton broth and rice vermicelli. This flavoursome concoction is then returned to you with slices of beef or lamb and a touch of pickled sweet garlic.



Locally called chaun'er, more commonly known as kebob, these are a favourite among locals, especially when sitting down for a drink. A must-have at any eatery in town, you'd find this at the topmost Xi'an hotels like Grand Park Xian to the food cart around the street corner. Enjoying a kebob over a beer is almost a lifestyle of the locals. As a skewer is pretty cheap – about 1 yuan – and addictive, it is not unusual to find a hundred skewers being shared between merely two people. The meat is usually lamb or beef and has a generous coating of cumin, chilli, and pepper.



Roujiamo is the Xi'an's version of a meat burger. It has a rich and long history. A good roujiamo has only two key ingredients: shredded meat and baked leavened bread. The traditional roujiamo is baked in a furnace as opposed to an electric oven. The patty is made by kneading the hand-shredded bread with fat pork as well as lean pork, although some people choose to use lean pork only. Although pork is a common choice of meat, the locals believe that the best roujiamo is found in the Muslim quarter of the city, where the meat is beef or lamb.



Cold noodles, or liangpi, is the usual accompaniment to roujiamo. The name is self-explanatory, as the dish is made of thin rice noodles that have been left until cold. This cold noodle is then served with a drizzling of pepper powder, chilli oil, diced garlic, and vinegar. A couple of slices of cucumber also are placed at the top to cut through the heat of the dish and provide some coolness. Although the texture of the dish is rather silky, traditional cold noodles is a really spicy dish.

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