Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor :: Xian Food Travel Tip

Eat

Xi’an specialties include:

Yang Rou Pao Muo 羊肉泡馍 is one of the signature dishes of the area, it consists of a piece of thick, chewy bread and a kettle of lamb soup. The diner shreds the bread with his hands and places the shreds in a bowl, the soup is then poured over the shreds (along with meat, maybe some noodles or scallion, etc.) The trick is to shred the bread into pieces that are as small as possible, like the size of your pinky fingernail. Most first-timers will shred their bread in pieces that are too large. In some restaurants, they have already shredded the bread for you. It is normally also served with pickled garlic and chili. If you don’t like lamb, some restaurants also offer a beef version. Tong Sheng Xiang Restaurant is recommended.

Biang Biang Mian is a local provincial specialty noodle dish that is extremely good. The wide noodles are spiced, have a broth, and include toppings such as eggs, tomatoes, beef, etc. The character for “biang” isn’t yet possible to type into a computer, but look for a complex character with about 57 strokes repeated twice before “面”. A popular chain has a red sign with white characters, and includes the face of the “Noodle King”.

Rou Jia Mo 肉夹馍 is the closest thing to a beefburger. This is a local tradition and should be very easy to locate. Sandwich-like, with pork, beef or lamb, this is a must-try item for anyone who is in this area.

Xiao long bao-zi 小笼包子 are basket-steamed dumplings (one basket ¥3), common as a midnight snack. Look for its big brother “Da bao-zi” only available first thing in the mornings, like a steamed cornish pastie, but very nice.

Guan Tang bao-zi 灌汤包子 are steamed buns served with sauces inside.

Shi Zi Bing 柿子饼 are buns made from persimmons, stuffed with something (e.g. black sesame paste), and deep-fried, so they’re quite sticky-sweet. You can find many sellers in the Muslim Quarter, and they are only ¥1 each!

Lu dou gao 绿豆糕 are literally green bean cakes (come in small cubes), but they’re more moist than you may find elsewhere and also come with a variety of mixings (e.g. sesame). Half a Jin should be about six cubes and cost about ¥5 at a cart in the Muslim Quarter.

Some good places to look for restaurants are:

The Muslim Quarter close to the Drum Tower is a vibrant area with many restaurants spilling out onto the street and mixing with the street sellers. If you’re looking for snacks, this area is also full of people selling dried fruit (especially dates) and nuts/seeds (sunflower, melon, pumpkin, etc.) Prices are per Jin (500 g) and are pretty much standardized throughout the area, so you can’t really bargain unless you’re buying a lot (but who wants 1 kg of peanuts anyway)? Watch out for the pits in the dates!

Street food (mostly sold after sunset, or some near night clubs/bars after 11PM) presents a variety of local/regional dishes, ranging from noodle soups, dumplings, hot pot, and so on by tens of little food vendors on street side, each with a red lamp.

Budget
A good way if you do not want the expensive hotel food or just want to try real Chinese cuisine, is to simply go into a small restaurant and point to a dish somebody else is having and you will get a meal for less than ¥10 (seldom ¥20) per person.

A good street for eating is Xiyang Shi running east-west near the mosque in the Muslim quarter.

Wen Xin Jiaozi Guan (温馨饺子馆), 123 Xushimiao Street (Next to the Good World Hotel, off of Lian Hu Lu). A good cheap place for jiaozi (Chinese dumplings). There is no menu, but endless supplies of fresh jiaozi of many flavors. From ¥4-5 a bowl. edit
Lao Sun Jia, G/F Dong Dajie. Has fantastic yangrou paomo which is very cheap but flavoursome. No English spoken but easy to communicate with sign language!

Mid-range
McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC or its Chinese brother, Dicos, are widely available within city walls for a change from the daily Chinese cuisine. There are also three Starbucks within a 5-minute walk of the Bell Tower.

Highfly Pizza (高飞), (Down the right hand street after coming out of South Gate (南门)). Real pizza and other western food. edit
Green Molly Restaurant & Pub (绿茉莉), (200m north of Ginwa Shopping Center on the intersection of Gaoxin Road and Keji Road (西安市高新区高科大厦副楼一层 (世纪金花商场后门向北200米路东))), ☎ +86 29 81883339. 10AM-11PM. A restaurant where you can indulge in the tastes of home, whether that be in the U.S., Europe or even Mexico. The restaurant owns only the second authentic pizza oven in Xi’an. Downstairs, the first and only real pub in Xi’an has a wide selection of beverages ranging from imported beers to wine and delicious cocktails.

Small World Cafe, Huancheng Nanlu Dongduan 90# (Outside Jian Guo Gate). Run by a Dutch woman. Great European cafe feel. Good food. Pizza, salad, fried chicken and real cake.

Delhi Darbar (新德里餐厅), Dayanta West Road (雁塔区大唐通易坊东头路北) (Directly west of the Big Goose Pagoda on a street full of upscale bars and restaurants). Authentic North Indian food run by a wonderful Indian manager. Service is good, food is devinely delicious, and prices are very affordable. Mango Lassi for only ¥10 is a must have. Average meal price is about ¥40 per person.

Highly Recommended.
Village Cafe. A nice urban cafe on Shi Da Lu that offers burgers, steaks, and all sorts of drinks and desserts. From ¥30-60 per person.

Splurge
La Seine, Nandajie (南大街) (Near Bell Tower). French style restaurant.

Tang Paradise Hotel, (Near the Wild Goose Pagoda in the Qujiang Resort of Xian). Dinner Show in a large 165 acres theme park. The charm lies in that all the buildings in the park are built in the luxurious style of the Tang Dynasty. The best time to visit is at night when most of the shows, including fireworks and dances, are performed.

Koi, Sofitel on Ren Min square. Japanese cuisine.

Drink

Night clubs in Xian are not abundant. All clubs play the same music, a mix of Chinese disco and some pop music. Most people go out between 10PM and 1AM, but clubs are generally open until 4AM.

In summer time, the area around South Gate (南门) is beautiful. East of it are three nice bars with terraces and gardens.
Along the short Nandajie (南大街) are the most clubs (you can also eat on the street as there are restaurants open past midnight).
MIX, (Big light ad). Rather nice places to sit and drink.

Palando. Rather nice place to sit and drink.

Night Cat. Dance floor, some foreigners and OK-DJs.

Kulala. Dance floor.

Other options include:
1+1, Dongdajie (东大街) (In the middle of the street). Remains one of the most popular clubs and definitely the most popular amongst foreigners. The club has 2 dance floors: first floor is mostly J-pop music, second floor is mostly hip-hop. There is a relaxed open air bar on the 5th floor which has live music every night.

De Fu Lou Cafe & Bar (De Fu Lou Paulaner Bar), De Fu Xiang Street. In Bar Street (De Fu Xiang), one of the first bars ever to open in Xian and a favourite hangout for locals. Live football on the big screen and live music every night.

Salsa (莎莎; Shasha), 7F, Parkson building, No.107 West Street. Is probably the most popular club. This club is your best bet on Fridays and Saturdays however yi-jia-yi is more consistent during the week. The dance floor, while smaller than yi-jia-yi’s, is usually less crowded, so you have a bit more room to dance.

Off-road Tea Bar, Jiefang Road (800 m S direct to Xi’an Railway Station). Has been checked by Goofle Business. Here, one could enjoy the fresh green tea in Southern Shaanxi and could meet local cycling and trekking lover.

Havana Bar, Renmin Square (In Sofitel Hotel). Has a Venezuelan band and makes good cocktails.

The Belgian Bar, 69 Shun Cheng Nan Lu Dong Jiao (150m east inside the South Gate), ☎ 13201672369, [1]. The first and only Belgian bar in Xian. Friendly pub atmosphere and huge range of beers. Popular with expats and locals. Awesome location facing onto the city wall.

Vice Versa, Wen Chang Men (Wen Chang Gate) (Beilin History Museum (Beilin Bo wu guan)), ☎ 151 092 72480, [2]. 3PM-5AM. Vice Versa is a cultural mix of east and west, found in one of the older districts of Xi’an. It is located next to the front gate of the Forest of Steles History Museum. With a relaxed cafe/restaurant open during the day, a lively bar serving a mix of western and asian beers/cocktails at night, and a crowd of expats and Xi’an locals around the clock, this venue is a great place to use the free WIFI while you sip a western coffee, or to get crazy at night with new friends. Vice Versa boasts the only gathering of underground culture in Xi’an, from it’s own skate shop on the third floor, run by Converse pro-skater Xiao Jian, to it’s gathering of all types of music and live bands from around the world. Cheap cocktails and beer, bi-lingual staff, and the easy-going mood will help you see Xi’an as the city it truly is: a vibrant mix of people from across the globe coming together with one dream- having fun. Located next to the city wall at Wen Chang Gate, you can call Mike at 151 092 72480 if you get lost.