De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xi’an Not Quite As Legendary As It Claims

On my last day in Xi’an, I was recommended a dumpling restaurant near the Drum Tower called De Fa Chang. “You can’t really miss it … there’s this big sign” says the concierge. And when I got there … she was right.

The signage reads “千古风味饺子香 传奇品质德发长” followed by a line underneath that says “The legendary DeFa Chang Restaurant is renowned for its superior delicious dumplings” … hey, at least they got the English right 🙂 A good sign …

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xian

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xian

There are quite a few locals dining there (that to me, is also good sign!), at least on the first floor anyway. While I was eating, I saw a group of foreign tourists led by a Chinese tour guide into a lift heading to the second floor. Anyway, if locals are eating there, that’s good enough for me … but in a land of 1.3 billion, that’s not saying all that much.

Menu at De Fa Chang in Xian

Menu at De Fa Chang in Xian

When it came to ordering, I really had no clue what’s good there so I had to ask the lady by the till what her recommendation was. She suggested the following:

  • 虾脑水饺 or the “Shrimp Brain Dumpings” (the second item on the list below [in green] at RMB 22 for 15 pieces); and
  • 蟹黄蒸饺 or the “Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings” (the third item from the bottom of the list below [in pink] at RMB 16 for 10 pieces)

and just so I can try a little more, I got the 食神牛丸 (“God of Cooking” Beefballs) at RMB 6 for 3 pieces (the last item on the list below)

What Is Good Here?

What Is Good Here?

Somehow these beefballs look both very appetizing and nasty at the same time.

Paying Tribute to 周星驰's 食神! I think so!

Paying Tribute to 周星驰's 食神! I think so!

Here’s the 食神牛丸 … probably a tribute to Stephen Chow’s classic 食神 (God of Cookery, lol) movie. I made the mistake of thinking that the name was just part of a marketing strategy to get people to try them. I didn’t think much of the beefballs itself … until I found out (the hard way) it had soup in them … and so my first bite resulted in spraying beef soup all over myself (see photo below). It turns out, these beefballs are so aptly named.

酱爆 (i.e. Exploing Sauce) 牛丸!

酱爆 (i.e. Exploing Sauce) 牛丸!

There was definitely some beef taste to it, but it is not Chiu Chow Beefballs … I’m sorry.

RMB 22 虾脑水饺 ...

RMB 22 虾脑水饺 ...

These dumplings … I don’t really know where to start. It had a bit of the crab roe (蟹黄) taste to it … so I thought it was the Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings … but it’s the “Shrimp Brain Dumplings” … but I can’t really taste the shrimp. It was just pork inside a dumpling wrap. In retrospect, I wonder if they had given me the wrong dish. Anyway … this is one of those dish which you eat it just to satisfy your hunger. Sorry, it wasn’t all that good … I had to soak them in vinegar to eat them.

Dumpling Soup Trolley

Dumpling Soup Trolley

And while I was waiting for my other set of dumplings, I was given a “dumpling soup” on the house. Basically, this is the water they use to boil the dumplings (there are 2 kinds, one boiled, one steamed) … and like the “soba soup” (boiling water used to cook the Japanese soba noodle, before they’re then cooled), this is also good for your skin. Supposedly.

Dumpling Soup at De Fa Chang, Xian, China

Dumpling Soup at De Fa Chang, Xian, China

Chinese wastes nothing!

Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings

Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings

And after waiting what seemed like 15-20 minutes for these dumplings, I’ve already lost my appetite. But even if I had space to eat them, they were MILES off of Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai. These so-called Crab Roe dumplings tasted exactly the same as the first ones I’ve had … which was either the pork and/or shrimp (brain) dumplings.

Here’s a slogan they can put on their banner: “At De Fa Chang … Everything tastes the same!”

Note: Photos taken with an iPhone.

SiuYeh Rating: 3/10

De Fa Chang (德发长)
Near the Drum Tower
Xi’an, China

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