Xi’an Muslim Street: Halal Food & Things to Buy

Other than being home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an is also home to over 60,000 Hui ethnic Muslims! This spells good news for Muslim travellers as you can find an extensive variety of delectable halal local food in this dynamic Chinese city.

Image credit: chensiyuan

A must-visit location in the city is the Xi’an Muslim Street. Don’t be fooled by its name! This “street” is actually a collective name for a number of streets, including Beiyuanmen Street, North Guangji Street, Xiyangshi Street and Dapiyuan Street.

Lined with numerous stalls selling clothes, handicrafts and local food, being overwhelmed is definitely an understatement! To help you out, here’s a list of must-eat halal food and souvenirs you have to look out for at the Xi’an Muslim Street:

1. Roujiamo (肉夹馍): Chinese hamburger 

Image credit: bionicgrrrl

When in Xi’an, ditch the western hamburgers from the golden arches and grab a roujiamo instead! Roujiamo translates to “meat sandwiched in bread”. The delightful snack is said to be the world’s first hamburgers and can be traced back to the Qin Dynasty! Sink your teeth into a slice of history as you enjoy the fluffy baked bun stuffed with savoury marinated beef or lamb.

2. Yangrou Paomo (羊/牛肉泡馍): Flatbread in mutton stew

Image credit: Pubuhan

Yangrou Promo is a popular dish at Xi’an Muslim Street where ladles of piping hot soup are poured over pieces of flatbread that are broken into small pieces. Other than soaking up the flavour of the stew, the bread also reduces the greasiness often associated with mutton. With noodles and chunks of meat accompanying the bread, this is one hearty meal you cannot miss!

3. Liangpi (凉皮): Cold noodles

Image credit: Celia M

If you’re in Xi’an in the summer, Liangpi or cold noodles is a refreshing meal that will make you forget about the heat. The rice or flour noodles are first thinly sliced and boiled. Then, they are set aside to cool. Before serving, chilli oil, pepper powder, vinegar, bean sprouts and cucumbers are added to complement and enhance the flavours of the silky noodles.

4. Yang Rou Chuan (羊肉串): Lamb skewers

Image credit: Kirk K

For all you meat lovers, you have to pick up a handful of Yang Rou Chuan or lamb skewers. Hunks of juicy lamb meat are coated in a blend of spices, which includes cumin, chilli flakes and Szechuan peppercorns, and then skewered onto actual tree branches. The meat is then grilled over white-hot charcoal which sears meat quickly, resulting in a caramelized finish and smoky flavour. Anybody else already salivating? 

5. Biang Biang noodles

Image credit: Kirk K

Thanks to its belt-like shape due to its thickness and length, Biang Biang noodles is named as one of the “ten strange wonders of Shaanxi” (FYI, Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi Province). Its name is said to be derived from the “biang biang” sound as the noodles are stretched and slammed onto tables. The handmade noodles are typically served in soup with mutton, chives and chilli oil. 

Image credit: shankar s.

Fun fact: With 58 strokes, did you know that “biang” is one of the hardest Chinese characters to write? Seriously, the character is so complex that there isn’t a Unicode version of it for computers!

6. Gui Hua Gao (桂花糕): Osmanthus rice cake

Image credit: Aparna Vargese

If you’re starting to crave for something sweet, keep your eyes peeled for the bright yellow Gui Hua Gao or osmanthus rice cake. Although most people call it a “cake”, this traditional Chinese dessert has a jelly-like consistency. Made with glutinous rice flour, osmanthus honey and rock sugar, the cake has a sweet and flowery taste which is not overpowering.

7. Shiliuzhi (石榴汁): Pomegranate juice

Image credit: Sabur Khan

To wash everything down, pick up a cup of thirst-quenching shiliuzhi or pomegranate juice. Pomegranate is Lintong’s (where the Terracotta Army is located) fall speciality and is well-loved for its sweetness and tartness. The fruit also packs high amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C! The locals claim that the pomegranate juice goes amazingly well with the lamb skewers. 

8. Dried Persimmon & Shaanxi Jujube

Image credit: Tn Tan (left), Lusie Susantono (right)

If you’re looking for some souvenirs to bring home with you, dried persimmons and Shaanxi jujubes are a good option. Unlike usual persimmons, the persimmons from Lintong has a distinctive red flesh and are often called “shiny-red persimmons”. Shaanxi jujubes are known for their sweetness and high calcium and phosphorus content. These unique and healthy goods serve as great gifts for your loved ones. 

9. Chinese paper-cut

Image credit: ProjectManhattan

The paper-cut is a popular art in Shaanxi and you can easily find them along Xi’an Muslim Street. They come in a wide variety of designs such as paper-cuts of figures, Chinese characters and animals. Although they are usually used to decorate houses during festive occasions, you can find paper-cut bookmarks or cards which would make a nifty souvenir. 

10. Terracotta Warriors replicas

Image credit: Khonesavan Vilayhome

Undoubtedly, you have to get a Terracotta Warrior replica when you’re visiting Xi’an! Like the real ones, you can find replicas of warriors of different ranks and different facial features. They even sport varying facial expressions such as happy, angry and sad. Do keep out for these variances when picking out your ideal Terracotta Warrior!

Brimming with delicious halal Chinese food and one-of-a-kind souvenirs, what more can one want from Xi’an Muslim Street? We don’t know about you but if we’re there, we’re definitely hitting the food stalls first!

Also read: Halal Travel in China: Exploring Xi’an and Xinjiang

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