Hidden Gems: The Best Pork in Xi’an 马嫂熏肉大饼

Article By Stephen Robinson

No.33, Da Che Jia Xiang.

Average Price per Person /人均消费: 10RMB

Things are starting to return to normal after a longer than usual winter slumber. Soon, if not already, we’ll all be heading to our favourite watering holes. But keep your eyes peeled, you’re bound to find some new and interesting additions to the already vibrant night life scene. The season of longer days, beautiful nights, and pretty drinks has arrived.

For the uninitiated, the 熏肉大饼 is a relatively simple dish composed of shredded smoked pork, thinly sliced spring onion, and a sweet dark sauce wrapped in a crispy fried wrapper. What makes these good is the complexity of flavor and textures that pair so well with each other. The deep and earthy smokiness of the pork is balanced out by the sharp sting of the onion, which is in turn balanced by the sweetness of the sauce. This dish is also a balance of textures, with the dense solid bite of the pork lightened by the crisp snap of the onion and the crinkly texture of the fried wrapper on the inside.

While there are several places throughout the city that provide this dish, there is no place that does it better than 马嫂熏肉大饼. They have been in operation for more than a decade and have absolutely perfected the craft. Every single element is done to perfection, and compliments each other perfectly. What is sometimes lacking in many of the 熏肉大饼 is the smoky flavor, as this is something that takes time and many do not bother to take the time consuming steps to do it properly. Here, however, the smokiness comes through clearly and all of the various elements are well-proportioned to each other in such a way as to bring out the best parts of the other ingredients.

Over the years, I have brought countless friend and acquaintances to this shop, and not once has anyone ever disliked it. It is that good. When I comes to ordering, you simply walk up to the counter (there are no seats) and place your order. There are two main options that you can select, 肥瘦 (fatty) or 全瘦 (lean). While most would be tempted to go for the lean, you are really missing out on something if you do. The fatty portions make the whole dish more flavorful, acting as a carrier of all that delicious flavor and giving the whole dish a moist mouthfeel that makes it all the more pleasant. It’s cheaper too.

To find this place, just go to 大车家巷 walking about 50m or so down from 粉巷, one road west of the old bar street. Last time we were there, it was next to a barbeque restaurant, sitting at the corner of a building on the east side of the street. These are best enjoyed after a night of drinking or any time that they are open, as they are always good. If you have a chance, this is something you won’t want to miss.

Stephen Robinson is the editor-in-chief at xianease and would love to get your thoughts on everything we are doing. You can contact him at stephen@xianease.com