Xi’an, China / May 28, 2010 / dinner
Winederlust Rating (details below): 7 out of 10 / Winederlust Worthy: Yes
For our final night in Xi’an, home of the amazing terracotta warriors (constructed more than 2,000 years ago), Jay and I wanted to try some of the local food. After cross-referencing both online and in guidebooks and consulting with our local tour guide, we settled on Lao Sun Jia, right near Xi’an’s ancient 9-kilometer long city wall and only a few traffic-clogged blocks from our hotel.
Signs in Xi’an use less English than in Shanghai, and we weren’t sure we were at the correct place, save for a tiny reference to “since 1898” on a plaque outside the door that I vaguely remembered reading about. But sure enough, after taking the elevator to the third floor, we saw the mainly Chinese diners ripping chunks of bread into their bowls and knew we’d found it. You see, Lao Sun Jia is famous for its yangrou paomo, also known as lamb and bread soup, a traditionally Muslim dish. Though the servers speak little to no English, there’s a huge menu of other foods with pictures you can point at, but you really don’t need to order much else since the soup is so satisfying.
Here are the five steps to enjoying this tasty and tender local favorite:
Step 1: Notice the basket of dense steamed and flattened buns in the middle of your table.
Step 2: Tear the bun into tiny pieces and place in bowl. Make sure the pieces are small enough or the server will tell you to tear them again. (At least that’s what we think she said.)
Step 3: Let the server take your bowl of bun pieces away and return them soaking in broth with mutton and glass noodles.
Step 4: Add garnishes of cilantro and hot and sweet chili paste to taste. Keep the pickled garlic on the side to munch on as needed (or add to the soup if you want).
Best of all? A bowl of yangrou paomo costs about $3.50 US.
– by Liz Humphreys, Winederlust Eater in Chief
Winederlust Rating Details (out of 10):
Food: 8.0 (preparation, presentation & taste)
Wine: N/A (selection, recommendations, pairings & taste)
Service: 6.0 (helpfulness, attentiveness, knowledge & pacing)
Place: 6.5 (location, view, decor & vibe)
Price Range: $ (Super Cheap)
Lao Sun Jia / Dong Guan Zheng Jie 78 Xi’an China
Open daily 11am-9pm; no reservations, no English and no credit cards.