17 Apr2016

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Our apartment was a five minute walk away from the Drum Tower and Muslim Street in Xi’an. A local would later tell is with a tinge of disdain that no locals ever eat on Muslim street, that it was sort of the disneyland equivalent of local street food for the benefit of tourists, tens of thousands of whom come to the city to see the terra cotta warriors and other destinations. Never mind, it was the quick way to get a view of much of what local street food they had on offer, and this post is a quick run-down of some of the stuff we saw and a we only sampled a small fraction of what was on offer…

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Cold noodles with shredded cucumber with either a sesame or soy sauce (or I suppose you could put both)…

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What looked like cubed pan-sauteed potatoes with chilies and green onions.

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Smashing peanut brittle.

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Stewed lamb feet/hooves eaten like one would eat a chicken drumstick while strolling down the street.

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Pulled sugar for a taffy like candy…

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…and another shot of the artisan at work. While one got the feeling this was all for show, the bottom line is that there were a LOT of people on this street, and frankly 90% seemed to be Chinese (albeit visitors from other parts of China and probably not locals) and there was high turnover. So much so that you can see 5-6 of these guys pulling sugar throughout the night!

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Battered fried crab on a stick anyone? And they didn’t look like soft-shell crab either.

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Local beef jerky is a specialty.

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Ribbons of tofu with a chili sauce. We didn’t have this here, but a day or two later we had it at a restaurant and it was delicious!

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Piles of steamed crayfish which seemed like a bit of a bother to munch on while walking around.

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Tons of dried fruit and nuts. This is the epicenter of kiwi land (there is a local name). Not too many know that New Zealand is not the original home of the kiwi fruit, they just seem to have made it more recognizable around the globe. If we had more luggage allowance, I would have had a suitcase with 20+ kilos of fruit in nut in tow. :)

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Lamb skewers at the ready.

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Lots of lines which we took to be a sign of quality or desirability but we didn’t ALWAYS find this to be true. :(

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A rare display of greens, veggies are not a big deal in this part of China due to growing conditions we were told. But fruit and nuts were plentiful.

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Modern fruit popsicles in a myriad of flavors.

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Stone bread, more on this later.

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More sesame noodles.

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Hand-pulled noodles. But I wasn’t watching the noodles, I was watching the fiery exhaust of the gas cooker. I wondered if any stray kids would go running up to it and singe their hair or clothes. Talk about a lack of safety measures. With all the unruly kids in the Philippine dining environment these days, I am CERTAIN one of them would end up barbecued or at least with third degree burns if let loose in Xi’an.

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After a few minutes I realized people knew well enough to avoid the potential incendiary end to their designer jeans or canvas shoes, no casualties…

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Squid on a stick with sesame seeds. They use a LOT of sesame seeds in this part of China.

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Stewed dried fruit looked really appealing, but I am not sure how they use it in their dishes or meals… it’s a bit discombobulating not being able to communicate with the vendors to find out more about their products.

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Dried persimmons (Footloose, look!) and lots of dried nuts and other preserved items. The pistachios were a result of the trade along the silk road, along with lots of other things like spices, breads, etc.

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Local dates stuffed with walnuts. A healthy snack individually wrapped.

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The most amazing cubes of tofu sprinkled with a chili sauce and herbs.

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Quail eggs on a stick.

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I think this was a butter date cake purchased on a stick. Overall, the variety of items on display was impressive, touristy or not. We had a wonderful time strolling down this street two nights in a row.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. ConnieC says:

    In Xian… Kwek kwek anyone? I love the variety of food on display.

    With Xian so far inland I wonder where they source their seafood, but of course with China’s fast rail system and with air transport, nothing is too distant.

    Apr 17, 2016 | 6:58 pm

     
  2. Footloose says:

    Impressive array huh? The goat hooves remind me of an old Canadian friend who told me once that his grandfather was convinced the Chinese are the smartest people in the world to have figured out how to sell otherwise unusable animal parts to tourists (to sell garbage to the white man were his exact words).

    Walnuts in dates, I make those. Also dried apricots and persimmon wrapped dates that I learned from Maangchi.

    Now I know what to do with the dried tofu skin I mistakenly picked up to make ngohiang/lorbak.

    Apr 17, 2016 | 10:59 pm

     
  3. Khew says:

    I love the large stewed fruit jars.

    Apr 18, 2016 | 12:21 am

     
  4. E J says:

    So fascinating! No wonder you went there two consecutive nights.
    Interesting, isn’t it, that the Chinese gooseberry is now so much more identified with New Zealand that named (rebranded?) the fruit after its flightless bird?

    Apr 18, 2016 | 4:19 am

     
  5. ami says:

    What caught my attention were the beautiful blue and white plates and bowls that they use.

    Apr 18, 2016 | 8:44 am

     
  6. Monty says:

    The World Street Food Congress is happening this week I think somewhere in BGC. There should be interesting dishes to be offered.

    Apr 18, 2016 | 10:30 am

     
  7. Betchay says:

    Interesting streetfood choices! What were you lining up for?(14th photo)

    Apr 18, 2016 | 10:46 am

     
  8. emsy says:

    since coming to work in mainland China, it’s been such an eye opener to eat “Chinese food” that goes beyond roasted duck, char siu, and what I now refer to as “Hong Kong food.” It’s good, but I think the flavors, textures, and aromas from mainland cuisine are more varied and complex. I hope you had the stone bread soup and liked it!

    Apr 18, 2016 | 10:46 am

     
  9. Marketman says:

    emsy, I agree, the plethora of choices is utterly amazing. The soup you refer to was one of our highlights, post in the next few days… Betchay, that like was for the lamb sandwich. It was delicious, but not sure it was worth the 20 minute wait when there were others nearby with a much shorter line. :) Monty, oddly, I was actually asked to cook at that event, but travel schedules didn’t work out, and besides, I am currently nursing one of the worst flus in recent memory. :( ami, yes, the food, the set up, the props and displays, were all stunning. EJ, yup, the kiwi was hijacked. Khew, I wanted an excuse to buy lots of the stewed fruit, but we were headed to another city and had limited luggage allowance so I just enjoyed it for a minute or two and moved on. Footloose, I had a dried persimmon precisely for you, and didn’t regret it one bit. ConnieC, we wondered the same thing about the seafood as well…

    Apr 18, 2016 | 11:31 am

     
  10. Monty says:

    MM, hope you get well soon. Do you get flu shots yearly? If you do, make sure you get the quadrivalent kind, the one that offers protection from 4 virus strains rather than the usual 3.

    Apr 18, 2016 | 12:34 pm

     
  11. Marketman says:

    Monty, no, I haven’t been in the habit of getting flu shots, I don’t seem to get it too often, but the combination of cold weather and high adrenaline/activity on China (shopping trip for restaurants at the tail end), horrible allergies including to our lovely dog who has taken to sleeping beside my side of the bed due to the horribly hot conditions lately and exposure to a virus means I have been sidelined. I don’t like vaccines and medicine, and often try to get over things naturally…. but I have to say, for this bout, it’s maximum strength Zithromax for 3 days. But thanks for the heads up, maybe I will get one next year.

    Apr 18, 2016 | 12:51 pm

     
  12. Natie says:

    This is definitely my scene. I’d spend days here and try everything. Feel better, MM. Bad timing, this flu. Lots of spicy soups.

    Apr 18, 2016 | 9:15 pm

     
  13. Ej says:

    Get well soon, MM!

    Apr 19, 2016 | 12:17 am

     
  14. cumin says:

    Hi MM, found a video on how to make the OC cotton candy you featured in Instagram: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmyBS4tC4Ag

    May 23, 2016 | 2:32 pm

     

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