Summer Eating Guide: BARBEQUE

Article by XIANEASE

The locals in Xi’an love their barbeque, so much so that barbeque restaurants spring from alleyways and street corners throughout the summer months. Bursting forth from the flames is a bouquet of flavors and textures, all washed down with icy-cold local beers and an unquenchable hunger for more. For a first timer, or even an unadventurous old-hand, the world of barbeque can be intimidating, as you don’t know exactly what you are getting when you order. You’re Chinese lessons telling you of 猪肉 and 鸡肉 seem to fail you as you stare a menu of unfamiliar words and combinations. Well, don’t worry. We’ve put together a quick descriptive guide on what to do when hitting the barbeque restaurant.

On Ordering

While many restaurants have caught wise to the fact that people enjoy ordering what they want (go figure) many barbeque places will still run under the auspices of an as-they-come system. For this, the cooks will do large batches of a single item, which will then be carried around by a waiter or waitress screaming the name of the item they carry. These will typically be the items that are most popular or a canceled order from another patron. In either case, if you hear something you like, flag down the server and shout out a number, corresponding to the number of skewers desired. These items will be at the default level of spiciness, so keep that in mind. Beers or other items will need to be ordered separately.

The default seasonings are usually salt (盐 yán), cumin (孜然 zī rán), and red chili flakes (辣椒粉 là jiāo fěn). If you would like to order less of any of these, say 少__ (shǎo) 少辣 or 少盐, but there is no guarantee that they will actually do that, as the cooks are usually very busy.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the items that you might find at your local barbeque place, but it is a good start. As competition continues to increase, many shops are becoming ever more creative, expanding the range of items that they offer. What are your favorites? Which spots would you recommend to others? Let us know by emailing us at or by messaging us at our official WeChat account by searching XIANEASE through the platform.