Xian is renowned for the Shannxi snack and Guangdong cuisine. Beyond the inevitable KFC and McDonalds there is little in the way of western fare. The Muslim Quarter is the place to head for some delectable dishes such as cold noodles in sesame sauce and chopped mutton fried in a wok with ground meat.
The most celebrated dish from Xian is the soup – yangrou paomo, with a flat loaf of bread in a bowl with noodles, mutton and broth.
The mouth-watering desserts that are available are the perfect finish to the varied cuisine on offer here, be sure to try the peanut cakes (huashenggao) however, be warned; one is never enough.
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Situated near Bell Tower Square, this popular restaurant is the place to head to for some traditional Cantonese dumplings, with the 18-course meal being a particular favourite of the restaurant's clientele. Dishes are wheeled around on a cart, ensuring that your chosen meal is easily served. Credit cards are not accepted so make sure you have cash on you.
The reasonable prices and lively atmosphere make Da Fa Chang a favourite with both locals and tourists wishing to experience an authentic Chinese dining experience.
Location: No. 3 West Street, Clock Drum Tower Square, Lianhu District, Xi`an
Tel: 029 8721 4065
This is the most famous vendor of Shanxi's most widely consumed snack - rou jia mo – finely chopped pork pressed between two halves of a solid steamed bun. Xian's answer to the hamburger makes a perfect snack on the run, albeit not the healthiest of snacks, still it certainly fills up the stomach. Ask for the good-quality (youzhi).
Location: 46 Zhubashi Jie, Xi'an
Tel: 029 8785 5333
Xian is not renowned for having a vast assortment of western food to offer. This comfortable pizza joint is a great choice if you fancy a night off Cantonese fare and feel like something a bit lighter. The four-cheese and pepperoni pizzas are excellent, real oven-baked penne, tuna sandwiches, chocolate brownies and Texas stew, make Highfly a great place to sample some comfort food. An unusual feature in China, the entire restaurant is nonsmoking too.
Location: 1F Victory Hotel, Heping Gate, Xi’an
Tel: 029 8785 5333
This contemporary eatery is set apart from its more old fashioned neighbours. Don’t expect to find any English fare on the menu but the Peking Duck is out of this world and a popular choice with westerners who frequent the restaurant. You can actually watch it being prepared.
The kitchen surrounds the restaurant and is separated by a glass partition so you can observe food preparation. Also available are the more challenging Chinese dishes with comical translations like ‘pig face in strange flavours’. Drop by if you are interested in a real fruit juice as several are available here.
Location: Dong Mu Tou Shi 176
Tel: 029 8723 5888
The original restaurant, opened in 1898 making it over a century old. There are now three branches, two of them on Dong Dajie. The branch with the best reputation at the moment is located inside the Lao Sun Jia hotel. On the first floor, you can dine with the masses. The second floor is a point-to-choose xiaochi (snack) restaurant.
Thought to be the most famous restaurant in Xian a trip to the city would not be complete with sampling a huge bowl of, yangrou paomo. Other recommended include lamb dumplings (suan tang shuijiao) and a local favorite, fenzheng yangrou - two steamed buns perched delicately to the side of a pile of mince and flour.
Location: No.78, Dongguan Zheng Street, Beilin District, Xi'an
Tel: 029 8240 3168 / 029 8240 3100
Arguably the slickest restaurant in town, the restaurant where you can dine under the gaze of the chairman is situated across the road from the Little Goose Pagoda. The Huananese dishes on offer include spicy deep fried chicken, ribs and even some English dishes. The pleasant atmosphere matched with punctual service make Maogong Xiangcaiguan one of the best restaurants in town. Popular with visitors and Xian's elite.
Tel: 029 8428 6836
This is one of the more affordable and healthy theater/banquet restaurants in Xian. You won't leave with a grumbling stomach after you polish off up to eight appetizers, eight main courses, and 20 snacks (xiao chi). There are three different banquets available, and if you book in advance, you may be able to get a table close to the shadow puppet show, which is held every night on the third floor. Worth looking out for are a delicious steamed corn bun (wotou) and a nutty sweet-potato pancake (shan nan xiangyu bing)
Location: Jianshe Lu 2, Xian, Shanxi
Tel: 029 8553 5555
Hot Pot is one of the local famous-brand enterprises. With its many outlets, it is so popular with locals that they often line up for seats. The décor and style is unsophisticated with a spacious and bright dining environment. Service is hospitable and food is delicious, making it a top choice when in Xian. Head out here if you want to experience an authentic Chinese dining experience, at very reasonable cost.
Location: Laodong Nan Lu Branch: 19, Laodong Nan Lu (west suburb); Heping Branch: 105, Heping Lu (east part of downtown); Xiao Zhai Crossing Branch: 103 Chang'an Zhong Lu, Xiao Zhai (south suburb)
Offerings feature fresh marine products, Zijinghua is famous for the authentic taste of seafood dishes, high quality service and its size. Expect the usual shark fin and bird's nest soup and an array of other Chinese delicacies some well known some not. Situated in a southern suburb of the city, the restaurant specialises in Canton and Sichuan fare, and Canton tea at affordable prices.
Location: No. 249, Hanguang South Road, Xian
Tel: 029 8823 0118