Eat Like a Local – Winter Food Guide Edition

Winter Food Guide Edition

The northern part of China, where Xi’an is located, is generally dry and cold during the winter. According to traditional Chinese medicine, during this time Yin will rise while Yang will decline, so efforts must be taken to balance the Yin and Yang and moisten the lungs with a proper diet.
Here are some local foods and the restaurants to try them in this winter in Xi’an.

Yang Rou Pao Mo 羊肉泡馍
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) It is definitely one of the most prestigious and most iconic dish in the Xi’an foodscape.
b) It makes you feel warm
c) It is nourishing; the mutton inside the soup can strengthen Yang and nourish Yin.
Origin: It is said Zhao Kuangyin, before becoming be the first emperor of the Song Dynasty, was down and out hanging out in the streets of Xi’an. He was hungry, and he only had one piece of bread on him, but it was too cold to eat alone, so boss of a restaurant that sold the mutton soup kindly gave him a bowl of hot soup. Braking the bread into pieces and he put them into the soup and found it was quite tasty.
Restaurant recommended: Ma Hong Xiao Chao Pao Mo Guan
Address: No.46 Hong Bu Jie
Cost: RMB 30/person

Hulutou Pao Mo 葫芦头泡馍
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) It is a popular food amongst the local Xianese.
b) It makes you feel warm.
c) It has a strong fragrance and is delicious
Origin: This dish can be tracked back to Tang dynasty. According to legend, a man who surnamed Hu opened a ‘Miscellaneous lamb shop’ on ZhuQue Street, mainly selling cooked chopped entrails of pigs in the first year of Emperor Tang Gaozong. One day, Sun SiMiao, who was a famous doctor, traveled here and went into the shop to eat, but he felt that the chitterlings had a fishy smell and greasy taste. He gave the shop owner his own food recipes, including eight kinds of spices. The shop owner followed this recipe to cook and became successful. The soup was very clean and strong in fragrance and was delicious. In order to thank Sun for his advice, the shop owner hung a medicine gourd on the front of the store to commemorate the event and named the food Hulutou. The origin of the name comes from the shape of tripe being similar to a gourd.
Restaurant recommended: Zhu Xiu Ying Bang Bang Rou Hu Lu Tou
Address: No. 2 Liu Li Jie
Cost: RMB 26/person

Hot and Sour Soup Dumplings 酸汤水饺
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) A popular lunch amongst the local populace.
b) The soup warms you up quite well.
c) Flavorful and various filling and a pleasant aftertaste
Origin: A traditional and popular local food with over a 1000-year history.
Restaurant recommended: Hui Fang Ma Er Suan Tang Shui Jiao
Address: No.131 Sa Jin Qiao
Cost: RMB 28/person

Soup Dumpling 汤包
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) It is not Shanghai‘s 小笼包, instead It is Xi’an’s own version which is bigger and heartier.
b) The little pockets of soup warm you up slowly.
c) The flavors are delicious and various.
d) Instead of pork, tangbao in Xi’an uses mutton and soup packed into a paper-thin wrapper, making it more nourishing.
Origin: A traditional and popular local food with a long history.
The restaurant recommended: Zhi Liang Guang Tang Zheng Jiao
Address: No.200 Miao Hou Jie
Cost: RMB 30/person

Shuipen Yang Rou 水盆羊肉
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) It is one of the dishes on the Shaanxi Intangible Culture Heritage list
b) It uses a lighter crisper flatbread than Promo (great for stuffing full of lamb.
c) It has all the nourishing properties of lamb.
Origin: A traditional and popular local food that can be traced back to the Tang dynasty.
The restaurant recommended: Chong Hui Cheng Cheng Shui Pen Yang Rou
Address: Xi Yi Road, Near the Bell Tower
Cost: RMB 28/person

Lamb Hotpot 火锅
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) Uses high-quality raw materials: Lamb from Inner Mongolia, mineral water from Guangxi Ba Ma, special peanut sauce;
b) It is warming on cold evenings
c) It has a fresh and clean taste
Origin: As far back in Warring States Period
Restaurant recommended: Xi Lin A Ma Bing Zhu Yang
Address: Yin Tai Department Store, Xi Da Jie
Cost: RMB 88/person

Iron Pot Mutton 铁锅炖羊肉
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) The lamb is very tender from the stewing process
b) It is a simple yet tasty dish
c) It dispels cold Qi, and replenish qi, blood, and benefits the kidneys.
Origin: Northern Shaanxi.
The restaurant recommended: Fu Mao Yuan Shan Bei Tie Guo Yang Rou
Address: No.3 Hou De Jie, Qu Jiang West Road
Cost: RMB 107/person

Meatball Hulatang 肉丸胡辣汤
Recommendation rate:
Reasons to recommend:
a) It is extremely hearty and filling
b) Generally very cheap but still delicious
c) Thick and delicious mouthfeel with delicious lamb or beef meatballs.
Origin: This soup also dates back to at least the Tang Dynasty
The restaurant recommended: Jia Jia Rou Wan Hu La Tang
Address: Da Pi Yuan/Xi Yang Shi, Lian Hu District
Cost: RMB 10/person

Others Recommendations: Baked sweet potato (烤红薯), Sugar-coated haws (冰糖葫芦), mixed congee (八宝粥), Braise snow pear and rock sugar (冰糖雪梨), a thick soup with golden wood ear fungus and red date soup (银耳红枣汤) is helpful to moisten the lungs