Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Xi'an - Xiyangshi - Niu rou pao mo

One of the dishes that internet sites recommend you try when you visit Xi'an, is yang rou pao mo (羊肉泡馍) which is a mutton "soup".  Most every restaurant I went to instead offered niu rou pao mo (牛肉泡馍) which is a beef "soup", so that's what this post is about.  I put soup in quotes because eating this dish constitutes mostly fishing soggy bits of bread out of your bowl.

The restaurant with the black sign was the one I mostly frequented, as it was always packed out unlike many others.

2011-11-16 - Xian - 11 - Niu rou pao muo - Restaurant

For 15 RMB, you get given a bowl, two unleavened pieces of bread and a tag. Then you go to a table and start breaking your bread into very small pieces. I was on the large side here, and my table companion told me to go smaller.

2011-11-16 - Xian - 12 - Niu rou pao muo - Bread preparation

Once you've broken your bread up, you take your bowl and "proof you paid" plastic tag up to this counter and they give you a numbered tag in exchange for them. At this point, I recommend grabbing a small bowl of pickled garlic and minced chilli. The chilli I added to my soup later on, and the garlic.. well.. it tasted a little kerosinesque to me so I skipped it unless the "passing time" to "this doesn't taste right" ratio went in the wrong direction.

2011-11-16 - Xian - 13 - Niu rou pao muo - Hand-in counter

When they've added soup and a few pieces of beef to the bowl, they call out your number in Mandarin. And some young guy brings it to you, as you indicate that it is yours.

2011-11-16 - Xian - 14 - Niu rou pao muo - Returned soup

Going back several times, I enjoyed it a lot. There's not much flavour to the dish, but it doesn't taste watery, it doesn't have the texture of soggy bread and it is on the cheap side. I had the mutton version elsewhere for slightly more, and it wasn't better. Really, I couldn't tell the difference.

I'd definitely re-recommend this common internet recommendation as a filling and satisfying meal.  There are many things that are recommended on the internet which really aren't worth trying, but this isn't one of them.

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