If you go to Xi’an you must do two things: one is to see the clay figures of terra cotta warriors and horses; the other is to taste the local snacks in Xi’an, which is the most popular city for snacks.
Among all the snacks, Yang Rou Pao Mo (a soup dish that involves breaking wheat flour flat bread into a bowl and adding a delicious mutton stock) is the most representative one. Before dinner, you will be served one or two pieces of wheat flour flat bread which you break into tiny pieces, the smaller the better. The waiter or the waitress will then hand your bowl to the cook who mixes the bread and mutton soup with an appropriate relish. When the steaming hot meal is brought in, the waiter will also offer you sweet crisp pickled garlic, coriander, and hot pepper sauce. The most famous, the Tong Sheng Xiang (Prosperity and Fortune) Beef and Lamb Paomo Restaurant done in Tang Dynasty style, is a time-honored establishment in the Xian Bell and Drum Tower Square.
Next to Tong Sheng Xiang is a great restaurant, De Fa Chang Dumpling Restaurant, with its own version of the Dumpling Banquet. Ingredients for the dumpling fillings include various meats, vegetables, and seasonings. Cooking methods include steaming, boiling, pan-frying, deep frying, and roasting. Many flavors, including salty, sweet, hot, and sour are offered. Other house specialties include Peking dumplings, steamed sweet bean paste buns, steamed shrimp paste buns, and various uniquely spiced dishes. While you sample various delicacies, waiters will explain the cuisine culture of each dumpling.
One of Xian’s most famous specialties is the Guan Tang Bao (steamed buns with juicy stuffing) served at Jia Brothers’ Restaurant in Muslim Snack Street. You’ll know you’re there when you see the monstrous blue arch over the entrance and a wall festooned with photographs of Xian notables – TV hosts, writers, and musicians. The specialty of this restaurant is Guan Tang Bao, with a choice of beef, lamb or ‘three flavors’ – lamb, mushroom, and prawns. The buns have piping-hot soup inside, so caution is advised. It is best washed down with Ba Bao Xi Fan, a bowl of sweet rice porridge filled with peanuts, sultanas, hawthorn, and medlar berries.
Fanji is the famous vendor of Shaanxi’s most widely consumed snack, Rou Jia Mo, finely chopped pork stuffed in toasted wheat flour flat bread. A piece of good-quality bread and a bowl of mung bean flour soup will cost you no more than 10 Yuan. The state-run atmosphere is quaint and friendly, and the numerous awards that decorate the walls are well deserved. The restaurant is in a lane opposite the Drum Tower, south of West Main Street.
A fascinating lure for food buffs is Local Snacks Street (Moslem Street) near Drum Tower in Muslim Square. On the two sides of the 500-meter street, there are many restaurants of different cuisines along with unique snack shops. While enjoying true Muslim cuisine, you can learn customs of the Hui people.
Besides guan tang baozi in Jia Brothers’ Restaurant, there is barbeque in the Pingwa Kaorou Shop, sour cabbage and beef fried rice in Honghong Suancai Chaomi Restraunt, and beef noodles in Yifenli Restaurant. Other offerings, including fried persimmon cake, fried dumpling, stir-fried bean jelly, chopped mutton fried in a wok with fine-ground wheat, and beef and vegetable pie are available on both sides of the street.
If you would like to taste all the local food at one time in a budget meal, Xian Restaurant (Xian Fan Zhuang) offers more than 100 varieties in its self-service restaurant on the first-floor. It is very popular and charges only 18 yuan per person.