The development of greater Shaanxi cuisine reached its peak during the Han and Tang Dynasties almost two millennia ago. It is characterized as being hearty and salty with a strong flavor, and much emphasis is put on making elaborate dishes out of everyday ingredients. Today, Xi'an cuisine is heavily influenced by northeastern cuisines, and starches such as breads, noodles and dumplings abound as a main or a complement. This is highlighted by Xi'an's two most esteemed specialty dishes, Yangrou Paomo and the Dumpling Feast, both of which are based around noodles or breads. With Xi'an's long history as a cultural melting-pot and its strong Muslim minority, it's no surprise that city snacks in this town are a delight: guantang baozi – steamed buns filled with sauce – and rou jia mo, or grilled bread stuffed with minced pork, are just two.
Pork, mutton and freshwater fish are the staple meats in this land-bound province. Steaming, frying and stir-frying are the main cooking methods, and spices from nearby Sichuan make the occasional appearance on the table.
Though China's many flavors are readily available in Xi'an, foreign restaurants are noticeably lacking and, despite one or two exceptions, you'll have a hard time getting quality steaks or salads.
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