I will start this post by saying if you're afraid of large crowds then the Muslim street in Xi’an will not be the place for you. But if you can eat your body weight in meat, don’t mind hordes of people squeezing beside you as you walk. Having every vehicle made by man, passing you in either direction of the narrowness street possible, horns at full blast. Then you’ll have an exciting time eating all the food in Muslim market on your visit to Xi’an China.
The Muslim street market is located at the end of what was once the Silk Road and was considered the cultural and political capital of China.
The main street food area is known as Huimin Street or Muslim Quarter. It's the main street with a few smaller intersecting roads. The Xi’an Muslim street food is the collective name for several streets, including Beiyuanmen Street, North Guangji Street, Xiyangshi Street and Dapiyuan Street.
In the Muslim Quarter, you’ll find a mix of both Chinese and Middle Eastern culture. The Xi'anese cuisine not only has one of the world's longest culinary histories but also one of the richest too, due to the influence of its large Muslim population since 7th Century AD.
The Drum Tower acts as the entryway to the Muslim Quarter and is located in the Northwest side of the ancient city walls.
I loved visiting the stalls along Muslim street, from watching as hawkers roasted walnuts, sold prunes, to chefs stir-frying lambs and spices in hot woks over coal ovens and fruit vendors with pomegranate juice. It reminds me a bit of the markets in Jamaica where it seems everything in the world is happening all at once around you.
You will not go hungry walking through Xian’s Muslim Quarter. If you’re like me and love checking out the local food scene of the countries you visit then you may also want to read the Prague food tour guide.
Here are my recommendations on what to eat at the Muslim Street in Xi’an China
Biang Biang Noodles (Biang Biang Mian)
Trying a noodle dish is a must when in China, and Xi’an has its own famous noodles – Biang Biang Mian. The noodles are made from wheat flour, oil and egg. Which contribute to its chewiness and is an inch and a half wide from the stretching of the noodles.
The noodles owe the popularity of its unique name, from the sound the dough makes when it hits the counter while being stretched.
The noodles are flash boiled for a few moments with cabbage. Then served with vinegar, diced garlic, red chillies, mutton or beef. Depending on your order. You’ll not look the most glamorous eating these noodles as they are long and a bit messy to eat.
Tours in Xi'an - Tour of the Muslim Quarter
Xi’an Meat Roujiamo (steamed bread sandwiches)
The Roujiamo - a steam bread split and stuffed with braised chopped beef or lamb. The bun is made of leavened bread which is baked in a traditional furnace.
The meat is slow cooked in a stew containing 20 spices and seasonings, which adds to the unique flavour of the meat. The bun is crispy and has a flaky quality to it; the meat is chewy and packed with flavour. I found the bread of the Roujiamo to be dry even though the beef filling itself was tasty. The bread was a let-down.
Hot and sour dumpling soup (Suantang Shuijiao)
Restaurants in Xi’an have their own brand of dumplings to what you're used to from you’re local Chinese. They specialize in mutton dumplings bathed in hot and sour soup.
The meat in the dumplings are tender and are an explosion of flavour. With sesame seeds, chopped leeks and cilantro to give a flavourful kick to the broth, giving it a unique aftertaste.
Skewers Everywhere – (Rouchuan)
You will not be able to walk two feet along the Muslim market without passing a stall selling skewered meat (beef, mutton, lamb's liver, chicken wings, sausages). Where the smoke rising from tiny chunks of lamb sizzling over coal fires competes with steam and smog of the stalls next to it.
My favourite skewers were the breaded squid looking thing. To be honest I don’t even know if it was squid but it had a squidish texture when I was chewing it.
Vegetarians fear not, you too can get your sweets peppers and mushrooms grilled on a skewer. The city of Xi’an and the Muslim Quarter is a haven for vegetarians in a country where meat is a symbol of prosperity.
Braised Sheep's Hooves
Along the main stretch of the Muslim street, you’ll find braised sheep’s feet — some roasted with no seasoning to others dressed in chillies and sesame. If you’ve never had any kind of animal hooves before, I would say eat this with caution as it will be hard to bite into and is gelatinous (but good for soup).
We have cow and goat hooves all the time in the Caribbean especially in soups, so this wasn’t anything new for me to eat.
Pomegranate juice (shiliuzhi)
Pomegranate in the city signals the arrival of autumn. Pomegranate is a local fall speciality, most famously from Lintong, the location of the Terracotta Army.
The freshly extracted pomegranate juice goes great with kebabs. Far better than any pre-packed pomegranate juice, I’ve ever tried in the supermarket.
You’ll see people drinking it as they move along the street.
Tours of Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors Tours
Desserts to try along the Muslim Street Market Xi'an
After the hot sugar is repeatedly folded and stretched across a hook (never once touching the dirty street). The candy gets transferred to a large wooden stump, where it's sprinkled with nuts.
Then the hammering begins. The nuts are hammered into the warm candy until it hardens into a quarter-inch-thick sheet.
Even if you don’t try the candy it is pretty cool to watch it being made.
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Gui Hua Gao (Yellow Rice Cake)
When you've exhausted yourself from feasting on meat why not try Gui Hua Gao. A fruity smelling dessert made from yellow looking layers of glutinous rice, dates and kidney beans with a sweet syrup drizzled over it.
The cake is sealed overnight in a special appliance called a Zeng. The cake had a chewy texture to it and wasn’t my favourite because of the texture.
If you have a sweet tooth like me then read the best dessert shops in London guide.
You may also like: How to get a Chinese visa with a UK passport
Hopefully, this brief guide on some of the best food you can try along Muslim street in Xi’an helps your visit to Xi’an China. Visiting the Muslim street market should be high on the list of things to do in Xi’an.
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