It was only recently that I stepped away from 10 years of vegetarianism, so it is only now that I am able to start savouring Xi’an’s local meaty delicacies. I enjoyed my first Roger Moore (ròu jīa mó/ 肉夹馍) not so long ago, while just before I headed back to Britain recently a local friend of mine, Jenny, introduced me to pàomó ( 泡馍) and xiǎochǎo (小炒), dishes that hold legendary status in these parts. Pàomó is the soupy version, while Xiǎochǎo is fried. I must say I preferred the xiǎochǎo for its flavour and texture, although, that may be had something to do with the sweet pickled cloves of garlic they served up on a small plate with it.
Jenny took me to two of the more famous spots in Xi’an for these dishes, both in the Muslim Quarter (see below). She also took me for dessert at the best yuánxiāo (元宵) stall in town, which is just a couple of doors down from the xiǎochǎo restaurant. Anytime is a good time for eating yuánxiāo (元宵) as they are hot, sweet and tasty, but the real time for partaking in a yuánxiāo or two is on the 15th day of the first lunar month – the Lantern Festival – which falls this year on February 6th. I have added a couple of pictures below and simple directions to this stall and the other two restaurants, as they are all good spots to eat during these cold winter months but particularly because the Lantern Festival will soon be with us. All three are in the Muslim Quarter.
P.S. Don’t forget when you are ordering the pàomó and xiǎochǎo that you have to choose how much bread you want – I had 3 mó, Jenny had 2 (mó is a dry, round, flatbread made traditionally from wheat flour, the same bread that is used for the ròu jīa mó) – and that you have to tear it up yourself, so be prepared as it seems a strange thing to have to do to start with and it takes a while.