Famous Xi’an Food

In which I explore world of Xi’an’s famous food!

I don’t think I have the knowledge to call myself a foodie, however, I do LOVE food. In China there are all sorts of different local specialties, including hotpot in Chengdu (although none of these are from Chengdu), lamb in Inner Mongolia and duck in Beijing. Xi’an is no exception, so when I visited my friend Sophie who’s hometown is Xi’an, how could I not try all the famous Xi’an food!

We headed to the Muslim Quarter, as that’s the main place to go and find snacks (xiǎochī –小吃 – literally “small eat”) and as you walk in, all around is food and people eating food.

There was simply so much on offer:

  1. Octopus balls – zhāngyú xiǎo wánzi – 章鱼小丸子(Japanese snack called Takoyaki) famous xi'an food

    These were a small snack that we actually ate just outside the Muslim Quarter. The included some kind of mayonnaise and fried onion shavings. Served warm.

  2. Pea Cake – wāndòu gāo – 豌豆糕 –  famous xi'an food

    Wow. This was impressive to look at and interesting to taste. A beautiful colour and well presented – I also thought it looked like slices of melon! It was made out of peas (well,”dou” could also mean beans) and had Chinese dates on top. Served cold. Speaking of dates…

  3. Jujube or Chinese Dates (zǎo – 枣)
    famous xi'an food

    jujube – chinese dates 枣Zǎo

    These were being sold loose everywhere! I’m not a huge fan of them, but the Chinese say that they are good for women

  4. Eight Rose Mirror Cake – (Bā bǎo méiguī jìng gāo – 八宝玫瑰镜糕)
    famous xi'an food

    Eight Rose Mirror Cake- check out my awesome nails too 😉

    Another sweet delight made from sticky rice sprinkled with sugar and a sauce made from rose petals. The “lollipop” is then dipped into nuts and a covering of your choice. I went for strawberry jam but you coul could have other flavours such as sesame, apple and more! Served cold.

  5. Breakfast soup – ròu wán hú là tāng – 肉丸胡辣汤 and roll – niúròu bǐng – 牛肉饼
    famous xi'an food

    Really spicy!

    This was actually a breakfast I had on my last morning with Sophie. It was a gloopy, sticky soup (that sounds disgusting I know, but it wasn’t!) which was a little spicy with vegetables and beef. Also a bun filled with beef, yum! Served hot.

  6. Pork burger – Ròu jiā mó 肉夹馍 and cold spicy noodles – liángpí 凉皮
    famous xi'an food

    Some of my favourite food in Xi’an!

    These are two of the most famous Xi’an foods, darn delicious and quite possibly my favourite! The pork burger is simply the bread and pork and tastes divine, whilst the liángpí are often served spicy, however you can also go for a different sauce like sesame instead too. Served hot.

  7. Lamb soup with bread – yángròu pào mó 羊肉泡馍

    One final famous Xi’an food is the yángròu pào mó. We went to one of the famous restaurants for it Shǎnxī dì yī wǎn – 陕西第一碗. famous xi'an food Before you can eat the soup, you must break up the bread into the bowl. Sophie tells me that you can tell if someone eating yángròu pào mó is local to Xi’an or not by the way they break the bread up into the bowl. If they do it in larger pieces, they are not from Xi’an as the proper way is done by doing it in smaller pieces, as demonstrated by us:

    famous xi'an food

    Sophie and I tearing up the bread

    Next, you take your bowl of torn bread back to the chef and they add the lamb soup. This was absolutely delicious and yum and tasty and I’m also glad we shared a bowl, as it was also very filling! (Didn’t help I’d already eaten LOADS!) It was also great fun watching people tear away at their bread:

    famous xi'an food

    I love the guy’s face – he’s clearly enjoying his bread tearing experience!

    Xi’an should definitely be on your list of places to visit in China – there are many more things you can do there. Thanks again to Sophie for showing me around her hometown – miss you girl!

Sophie and I

Sophie and I

Which Xi’an 小吃 tickles your tastebuds?

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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  1. What a yummy culinary journey across Xi’an! I went to Xi’an last year to see the Terracotta Warriors but I had some typical Chinese dishes there, nothing special. Just some fried rice and veggies. The octopus balls look very yummy, but the breakfast soup sounds and seems to be a little bit gross :).

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    • The soup was gross because of the texture, but still tasty! I couldn’t eat all of it though because there was so much, not because it was disgusting 😉 Xi’an is fantastic for food – I went before and did all the things like the Terracotta Warriors but it was great this time to stay with my Chinese friend and eat my way around 😀

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  2. I lived in Xi’an for 6 months and got to eat lots of these! I miss my rou jia mo’s!! The noodles are the best, though. I haven’t found comparable “mian” since I left 4 months ago, and I just want an 10 kuai bowl of spicy beef noodles from Xi’an! Great list, Bennett!

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    • Sorry, this was marked as spam! Rou jia mos are great but liang pi will forever be my favourite. yang rou pao mo was a close second though! I could happily eat my way through this list again and again – thanks Jeremy!

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  3. Great list- I think the pea cake would be the item I’m most likely to try, then the rose mirror cake. Not so sure about the lamb soup!

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    • I’m definitely losing my sweet tooth in my old age, I have to say! So the lamb soup is top priority for me 😉 Thanks for checking in Vanessa!

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