Top 8 Xi’an Food You Must Try
Xi’an. The City of the Terracotta Warriors. The Former Capital of the Tang Dynasty. And also a Foodie’s Heaven.
Xi’an is the capital city of Shaanxi（陕西, Shǎnxī）, geographically located in the centre-north of China, but often associated with the region of 西北 (xīběi), or Northeast China.
Whether you’re spending a day, a month or a year, you’ll never run of new foods to try. LTL is here to help you navigate the food of Xi’an.
WHY TONES ARE IMPORTANT: Shǎnxi Province (where Xi’an is located) shouldn’t be confused with its neighbour Shānxi Province. One is third tone, the other first tone.On that topic, if you aren’t sure about Chinese Tones, check this quick video out to nail the basics.
Famous Xi’an Food #1 – Biángbiáng miàn
Famous Xi’an Food #2 – Yángròu Pàomó
Famous Xi’an Food #3 – Májiàng Liángpí Pèi Ròujiāmó
Famous Xi’an Food #4 – Qíshān Sàozi Miàn
Famous Xi’an Food #5 – Húlujī
Famous Xi’an Food #6 – Húlà Tāng
Famous Xi’an Food #7 – Guàntāng Bāozi
Famous Xi’an Food #8 – Yóu BǐngLet’s see what they are all about…
1. Biang Biang面 (biángbiángmiàn)，Biangbiang Noodles
Probably Xi’an’s most famous dish among Chinese learners for its 56-stroke character not found on a computer keyboard, biangbiang noodle’s name comes from the sound made while making the noodles. Biang! Biang!
Wide, belt-like noodles loaded with veggies, minced meat, and 辣子 (làzi, chilli pepper), this dish is sure to please!
Note: In Xi’an restaurants, they may ask you if you want 辣子 (làzi) with your dish. 辣子 is the Shaanxi equivalent for 辣椒 (làjiāo, chili pepper).
You can also try a similar dish called 油泼面 (yóupōmiàn, oil-spill noodles).
2. 羊肉泡馍, Yángròu Pàomó
Xi’an was an important post on the Silk Road.
Throughout the city, you can see the influence of Muslim culture, from the prevalence of halal restaurants to the pervasiveness of lamb and beef dishes rather than pork, common throughout other parts of China.
This dish, literally, “lamb with soaked bread” requires a bit of work.
When you order the dish, the 老板 (boss) will give you a round-piece of white bread to break into very, very small pieces.
There is a special verb for this in Chinese, 掰馍 (Bāi mó). This actually means to break bread into tiny pieces!
After you’re done (warning: this may take 15-20 minutes, follow the lead of the other diners), the waiters will add the soup, mutton (or beef, you’d prefer), and some clear noodles to your dish.
3. 麻酱凉皮配肉夹馍, Májiàng Liángpí Pèi Ròujiāmó, Sesame Paste Cold Noodles with Roujiamo
肉夹馍 (Ròujiāmó)，also known as the Chinese hamburger, has different variations based on the city in Shaanxi you’re from, but most include a round white bun (sometimes, flaky) filled with some sort of stewed meat (usually, pork or beef).
Often, you can you can choose to have 普通肉夹馍 (pǔtōngròujiāmó, regular Roujiamo) or 纯瘦肉夹馍 (chúnshòuròujiāmo, lean-meat Roujiamo).
The meatiness of the “Chinese hamburger” pairs perfectly with the acidity of a plate of 凉皮 (liángpí)，a cold noodle served with thin cucumber strips, chilli oil, and bean sprouts.
These can be served with sesame paste known as 麻酱 (májiàng). You can also try 凉皮’s hot and rice-noodle-filled counterpart， 热米皮 (rèmǐpí)。
Fun fact: According to grammatical rules of Modern Standard Chinese, 肉夹馍 literally translates to “Steamed bun stuffed in meat,” which would be a particularly strange dish.
However, the name comes from Classic Chinese, “肉夹于馍” (meat stuffed in a bun). Over the years, “于 (yú),” roughly meaning, “in,” slowly disappeared, creating the misnamed, 肉夹馍.
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4. 岐山臊子面, Qíshān Sàozi Miàn, Qishan Diced Meat Noodle
A first glance at this dish might be a little bit intimidating – a noodle in a red-as-blood soup.
In the local dialect, 臊子 (sàozi), means diced meat.
With a little kick to it, this dish is traditionally supposed to be extremely colourful: mixing the yellow of egg, red of carrots, green of garlic sprouts, and white of tofu together.
The most authentic version of this dish can be found in Qíshān, a county belonging to Bǎojī (宝鸡), a city to the west of Xi’an.
If you aren’t willing to make the journey to Baoji, you can find some tasty versions in Xi’an.
5. 葫芦鸡, Húlujī, Calabash Chicken
A foreigner favourite, essentially a deep-fried crispy chicken.
The tastiness of this dish requires a three-step process of boiling, steaming, and frying. Because of its complexity, it was originally just made for the Tang dynasty royal court. Over time, however, it became popular with common folk as well.
A plate of crispy, golden 葫芦鸡 （húlujī）is usually enjoyed with a salt-pepper dip.
6. 胡辣汤, Húlàtāng
Originating from Henan province, this dish has a local Shaanxi version.
A common breakfast dish, it is a starchy soup with pepper and beef. The name is a combination of the words 胡椒 (black pepper) and 辣椒 (chili pepper), two prominent flavors in the dish.
7. 灌汤包子, Guàntāngbāozi, Soup Dumplings
Xi’an’s answer to Shanghai’s 小笼包， this soup-filled beef or mutton bun, is a must-try in Xi’an.
You may be wondering how the soup gets inside the dumplings.
There are many ways to make soup dumplings, but this halal version requires getting the right amount of water into the meat-filling (馅儿, xiànr) before wrapping the dumplings.
8. 油饼, Yóubǐng, Fried Dough Cakes
Who said China doesn’t have donuts? Xi’an has a savory version.
This deep-fried dough with a hole in the middle is often served with strips of lightly marinated carrots and radish.
As the crossroads of different cultures, Xi’an has options for every kind foodie. So open up your 大众点评 (Dàzhòng Diăngpíng, essentially the Chinese Yelp) App and start exploring!
If you want to explore beyond Xi’an food, check out our Best Chinese Dishes To Order, inspired by Chinese food from all corners of China.
Xi’an is based in the central region of China and one of the most cultural cities in all of China
Xi’an would be most famed for the Terracotta Warriors, a hugely popular tourist attraction. Mount Hua 華山 is one of the 5 sacred mountains of China and also draws tourists from afar.
Biang Biang面 is a very popular dish and becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Famed for having a character so complex, it cannot be typed.
Biang Biang Noodles are belt like, thick and long. Add in plenty of veggies, meat and sauce, and you have one of the most delicious dishes known in Xi’an.
Two provinces of China that are often confused are Shanxi (山西), and Shaanxi (陕西).
Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi (陕西) province.
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