Hands down, my favorite part about visiting Xi’an was trying all kinds of new, delicious foods. Watch this special eight-minute video to see some of the street foods that I sampled during my recent trip to Shaanxi’s capital.
For Xi’an, the old Silk Road trade route opened the doors to the culinary influence of other cultures, particularly Muslim culture, which is especially evident in the Muslim Quarter in the center of Xi’an. This marketplace contains some of the most tasty, unique and interesting street foods in Xi’an, so let’s take a tour of this area and sample some of the most iconic street foods of this region.
Shaanxi sandwich 牛肉夹馍 (Niúròu jiā mó) – 8 RMB
The first street food that I eat in this video is Nui Rou Jia Mo (beef sandwich). Due to its origins in the Shaanxi Province, it’s often called the “Shaanxi Sandwich.”
Mutton soup with bread 泡馍 (Pào mó) – 38 RMB
This one isn’t so much a street food as it is a full meal in a bowl. Pao mua is mutton soup with bread and it requires a bit of work to prepare. It’s one of the hardiest dishes you can eat in Xi’an, and it’s absolutely amazing. For 38 Yuan, it’s more expensive than most dishes you’ll find around here, but it’s worth it.
Street yoghurt 酸奶 (Suānnǎi) – 8 RMB
Sua nai, which literally means “sour milk,” is a sweet yoghurt drink sold in little white cups, and it’s especially satisfying on a hot day like today.
Beef jerky 牛肉干 (Niúròu gān) Price varies per kilo
Niu rou gan, or dried beef, is another delicious street snack available in all parts of the Muslim market place. Unlike similar looking beef jerky in the west, the variety that I bought in Xi’an has a much more distinct meaty flavor than any other beef jerky I’ve ever eaten.
Flat bread 楠 (Nán) – 5 RMB
Hailing originally from the XinJiang Province is a hardy flat bread that’s sold all over Xi’an. The Uyghur people who bake this bread call it ‘nan,’ but Han Chinese call it ‘nang.’
Skewered mutton 羊肉串 (Yángròu chuàn) 10 RMB/2 skewers
Thanks to vendors like the one in this video, the tempting aroma of juicy grilled meat permeates the entire marketplace. This snack is dripping with fat and seasoned to perfection, making this a rich, hardy Xi’an street snack.
Peanut Candy 花生糖 (Huāshēng táng) – 20 RMB/box
A few varieties of this sweet snack are available, and each requires an interesting method of preparation, such as pounding the candy with a mallet and stretching it out over a hook. The process of making this delicious street treat is even more fun to watch than it is to eat.
Xi’an is more than just the city in China with the Terra-cotta army. It’s a place where history and street food go hand-in-hand, each telling a similar story about Middle Eastern and Central Asian culinary influences and their delicious impact on the Chinese street food scene.
My favorite part about traveling to Xi’an was experiencing a new world of food that I hadn’t tasted yet in Eastern China. The Silk Road did some pretty cool stuff for China, particularly when it comes to food, and my palette is thankful for it.