We actually chose a pretty bad time to visit Xi’an as it was the sweltering hot months (think 35 to 40 degree celsius) and the start of the school holidays for the Chinese. Nevertheless, after we’ve settled in, we walked over from our hotel to the Drum tower and further down to the bell tower. One thing I find pretty unique is how the road signs will have North, South, East or West flanking them. Especially, since their major roads in the roundabout in this area are often named in this manner. Makes it a lot easier to navigate the streets once we figured this out. Lol.
One of the big square that comes alive at night with performances and roadside stalls.
There are also these untended bikes that you can rent from the machine they’re parked at. Pretty cool eh. ‘Cause in Singapore, we usually rent them from the bike rental shop.
Absolutely loving the olden architecture that adorns Xi’an but that’s because I love these kind of olden Chinese architectural design. Lol. Makes me feel like I’m in ancient China with martial artists roaming the streets. Haha.
It was mid-noon and we were roaming the streets in the sweltering heat trying to find 东大街 (East Street) to desperately grab some lunch at this restaurant my aunt vaguely knew the name of but not the exact address. (While walking in the totally wrong and opposite direction for a long time), we came across this temple-like structure, which we realised later in the day to be one of the many entrances to the Muslim Quarters.
FYI, we didn’t managed to find the restaurant -.-. So we grabbed some street snacks: sausage and chicken wings on a stick before heading back to the muslim quarters. They had the right spicy kick to them.
Now, we stumbled into the crowd in the muslim quarters just as the sun was beginning to set attempting to grab some of the food there. However, as I roamed about the area taking in the sights and the food on display, I somehow knew I’m not gonna be able to walk away full. That’s because I don’t eat beef or mutton, which is what most of the stalls are selling. Beef because of my religion and mutton because it’s just too cruel to eat meat beyond the more common chicken, pork and fish. However, it’s still a nice evening “stroll” through the crowds to take in the smells and feel of the area.
One of the more notable dish in Xi’an is the mutton/beef burger (肉夹馍: ro jia mo). If you want mutton then look out for the sign 羊肉 (yang ro) and if you want beef then 牛肉 (niu ro). So I queued at this stall for the burger for a super long time thinking it was a mutton burger. Halfway through the queue (I’ve already paid for it (~15 yuan). They give you a ticket after you’ve paid for the quantity you want) I realised it was beef. -.- Regardless, I continued queuing until I got the burger which we threw into the bin. In case you’re wondering, my aunt who was with me could eat beef but she had an upset tummy that day. So better to be safe than sorry, the burger went into the bin, unconsumed. Kinda wasteful but still…
They had different flavours of fried persimmon on sale. We bought a few different ones to try but they all tasted pretty much the same. It’s not that good as well.
I think the picture below is a sticky rice date cake. But I could be entirely wrong…
After we squeezed through the quarters, all sweaty and sticky, we headed to a restaurant near our hotel for dinner before we crashed onto the bed. So we had a wild vegetable cold dish (凉拌: liang ban), a crispy and tender whole chicken (it would have tasted a lot better if there was ketchup and chilli sauce 😉 but it was still good) and lastly fried dumplings (饺子: jiao zi). Though portion sizes in Xi’an are definitely huge. Not one of the tables in the restaurant we were at (and in future ones as well) did anybody finish their meal. Plus, (and I’m not sure if it’s a culture thing a not) the servers tend to be a bit pushy in getting you to order more dishes and most of the time nobody can finish them. So you really need to be firm when telling them: “enough is enough”. If not, there’ll definitely be a lot of food wastage.
And while you’re at Xi’an, definitely do try out the sour plum soup (酸梅汤: suan mei tang). The name is slightly misleading. It’s more of a slightly sweet, cold and refreshing sour plum drink than a hot soup. You can even get a can of it at their local family mart scattered around the city. This became my go-to nightly drink over there ever since I’ve discovered it. That’s how much I like it. Haha.
Till the next post, bye!