China · 3 Days · 19 Moments · April 2016

Catherine Dearden Boyce

Weekend in Xi'an for the May Day holiday


2 May 2016

Lost Plate stop no.5 was a final eating stop for some fabulous spinach noodles, but I was enjoying them so much I forgot to take some photos! After our noodles (which were left unfinished as we were so stuffed!) we headed to Lost Plate stop no.6, our final stop at the only independent brewery in Xi'an, Xi'an Brewery, for a beer tasting and an excellent pint to finish off a fabulous evening with Ruixi of Lost Plate.
Lost Plate stop no.4: beef mince in pita-type bread accompanied with biting into cloves of raw garlic. Beef was great but it took 24 hours to get rid of the taste of munching the raw garlic!
Lost Plate stop no.3: dumplings! We waited a while for a table for 5 at this really popular spot in another historical area of the Muslim Quarter. The fare at this spot were beef soup dumplings with chilli oil, followed by a delicious sweet porridge. This typical Chinese sweet porridge has plenty of ingredients, including dates, raisins, dried lily, rose and osmanthus flowers, lotus seeds, sunflower seeds and honey. I loved it but not sure I could recreate it at home!
Lost Plate stop no.2: lamb kebabs in the hidden alleys of the Muslim Quarter! This gentleman has been cooking kebabs at the front of his house from 6pm every evening for 40 years. They are flavoured with salt, cumin, dried chilli flakes and his secret soy recipe brushed across the top. Apparently he has refused Ruixi the recipe repeatedly! She told us that every family will have their own variation on this. The plum juice we were given was also produced at a house round the corner. The street he lives on is one of the oldest in Xi'an at over 1,000 years old, developed as a language-teaching area when traders from the west and Central Asia started to settle in Xi'an.
Lost Plate stop no.1: the eternal soup. This soup is apparently 20-odd years old. The flame never goes out and the pot is never emptied as the flavours build upon themselves. It is like a flowing river that is constantly being refreshed by the new. Apparently! Consisted of tofu, whole eggs, chillies and lots of other stuff but was surprisingly mild. Bread is baked with sesame seeds and honey and was full of flavour. The tofu is put into the baked bread which is opened up like a pita, an egg is split into it and topping of your choice are added on top. I went for the seaweed, carrot, cabbage and spiced peanuts. Popped in a plastic bag, and you have your food to go! I'm happy to say it was delicious πŸ˜‹ Ruixi told us that this family had been working from the premises for the 20-odd years that the pot had been going for and the 3 brothers, their wives and children work there in the evenings.
A fabulous evening discovering the hidden food spots of Xi'an with Lost Plate.
Out and about around the Dayan (Big Goose) Pagoda, Xi'an
Out and about in Xi'an. Homages to Mao, cables over the road and a Xi'anese noodle lunch at First Noodle Under the Sun restaurant: great name!
Pit 3 and Terracotta Warriors museum.
Pit 2 of the Terracotta Army.
The Terracotta Army!! Pit 1.

1 May 2016

Found dinner in a very local little Muslim family eatery just round the corner from the hotel and it was fab! Had lamb skewers, bread and Xi'an local noodles with beef, tomato and bean sauce. Determined to get this place on TripAdvisor, food and people were great!
More of the Xi'anese street food and scenes that characterised the Muslim quarter.
Then we hit the Muslim Quarter! The noise, smells and sights were intense and the people were friendly, welcoming and inquisitive. Really enjoyed it! However, based on recent experiences we refrained from the street food in the knowledge that we'd booked a tour with Lost Plate for tomorrow night, so spent our time soaking in the atmosphere and the smells instead!
Back down from the city walls and a wander towards the Muslim Quarter: old and new blended in Xi'an.
After a lie-in and a leisurely hotel breakfast we set off to cycle the Xi'an city walls. We quickly realised that the sun beating down on a large brick structure made for a rather hot afternoon of cycling but ice cream and viewing stops made it much more comfortable ☺️

30 April 2016

After dinner we had an evening wander around this newly developed part of Xi'an. It was the weekend of the May Labour Day holiday so this beautiful park was full of families and friends out enjoying the balmy evening temperatures. There was a really relaxed and friendly atmosphere and we really liked this part of Xi'an.
After a couple of hours to just stop, get our bearings and decide what we wanted to do, we decided we wanted to play it safe and go for a western meal. There seem to be limited choices in Xi'an so we jumped into a taxi for what ended up being a 40 minute drive in traffic to the southern part of Xi'an, near the Tang Dynasty city walls relics. We ended up with a half-decent meal at Capriccio's in the newly developed Qujiangchi area: we should know by now not to expect too much from a 'western' restaurant in deepest, darkest China! Rookie error πŸ˜‰ but still, it was half decent and we ended up in a fascinating and beautiful area of Xi'an that we would have been unlikely to have seen otherwise.
Starting off the trip with a high-speed train from Changzhou North Railway Station - Changzhou bei zhan!