I just came back from a “business trip” from Xi’an, China and while I was there, I asked my staff to surprise me with some local delicacies … I was brought to a 乾州食府 on 科技路. The restaurant was semi-decent; it was definitely not the hole-in-wall type of restaurants, nor was it anything upscale. The restaurant sits comfortably in the middle of the spectrum I guess …
I had the locals do all the ordering … but after a full day of meeting, all I really wanted was the Hans Beer, which I believe is brewed locally. Apparently, Hans was acquired by Tsingtao but unfortunately, the quality didn’t quite transpire downstream. Hans was a bit lacking in flavour and was actually quite watery, but hey, I wasn’t expecting too much either. Whatever got me off my feet a little bit on an empty stomach would do. Speaking of beer though, my favorite beer in China other than Tsingtao is still Yanjing Beer (燕京啤酒) … but anyway …
Restaurant Hygiene in China
After all these years living in China, I still find it funny how restaurant have to resort to having their plates and bowls sanitized by a third party vendor. But the truth is, I do feel better that my utensils are vacuum-wrapped, grease-free and free of residue from previous patrons … whether it really is bacteria-free, I don’t know … but this is good enough for me.
First up, a type of hard bread called 鍋盔 that you dip into some preserved veggies, meat, spice and herbs … I actually have no clue what’s inside the dip. The outer layer of the bread is supposed to be slightly crispy with the inside, a little bit soft. But the bread itself is probably the blandest (is there such a word?) of bread I’ve ever tasted. It really was tasteless. There’s quite a big Islamic community in Xi’an and I’m pretty sure that has got to be the influence behind this bread. But I don’t judge 🙂 I appreciate it for what it is …
Apparently, you can only get the dough and the water used for making the perfect 鍋盔 from some place, so most of these bread are pre-made and brought into the restaurants in bulks.
豆脑 or 豆腐脑 which roughly translate (literally) as Bean Curd Brain
This dish is called the 豆腦 or 豆腐腦, which literally translate into “Bean Curd Brain” … haha, not exactly something you want associated with your food … but what it really is, is bean curd in half broth and half hot sauce (as you can probably tell from the photo). It wasn’t too spicy … and it was … well, nothing special. I have 豆腐花 all the time, but that’s the “sweet” version … I suppose you can do anything with bean curd.
This bean curd brain together with the bread you saw just now are consider 2 of 4 of Shaanxi’s “Treasures” (陝西四寶), the other two being 挂面 (gua mian) and 馇酥 (cha su). Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try the last 2 of the “Treasures”.
Fried Flour Soup
So anyway … I thought that this brown soup … substance … thingy was sesame soup, which I would’ve been perfectly fine with. But I was told, after having a couple spoonful and slowly realizing it wasn’t made with sesame, that this is made from frying flour powder and mixing it with some soup … which I thought was totally weird and that was the end of it. I can’t really describe it either … and you know what that means? It taste like chicken. HAHAH … it was probably made from chicken stock …
It wasn’t bad … and I’ve had much much more weird stuff, but I wasn’t quite ready to waste my quota on fried flour, if you know what I mean. Oh, how difficult it is being a self-proclaimed food critic vs. maintaining my weight.
Braised Fatty Pork
Umm, this was so so. I’m not even sure if this was a Xi’an dish. Looks Shanghainese to me and that version is much better.
Raddish with ... umm, some sort of eel
This was some big wok of raddish and eel fried together with peppers, spring onion, onion and garlic. They had a burning flame underneath to keep it heated … wasn’t bad of a dish, but the eel was a bit weird. I’m guessing its some sort of freshwater eel, it has to be … given Xi’an’s proximity to salt water.
Garlic Fried Ribs
Neither was this a Xi’an delicacy … I don’t think. But I see fried ribs with garlic in all sorts of Chinese cuisine. This was one of the better dishes of the night. I had TWO of these ribs.
Grilled Chicken Bones (雞軟骨)
And finally, this was actually the best dish of the night … it was tender and it was actually spicy. If I’m not getting a kick from the taste, at least give me some thing to numb my tongue.
A disaster? Hmm, not really. I’m not going to just generalize Xi’an food from this one sitting. This was an definitely experience, nonetheless. Especially fried flour soup … who would’ve thought.
Siu Yeh Rating: 2/10
Photos taken with an iPhone
乾州食府 (科技路) Gan Shi Fu (Ke Ji Lu)
No. 26 Ke Ji Road, Xi’an
Tel: +86 29 88228166
Filed under: China, Xi'an | Tagged: Bing Ma Yong, bingmayong, China, 鍋盔, 陕西, 陝西四寶, 馇酥, 豆脑, 豆腐腦, First Emperor of China, Great Wall of China, iPhone, Islamic Influence, Mausoleum, Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, Terra Cotta, Terracotta Army, Travel, Tsingtao, Xi'an, Yanjing Beer (燕京啤酒), 兵馬俑, 兵马俑, 掛麵, 汉斯红狼, 乾州食府 (科技路) | 5 Comments »