In my post on the Guan Tang Baozi from Jia San, I mentioned the Muslim Quarter. Located behind the Drum Tower, the Muslim Quarter and the Xi'an Mosque was first mentioned in imperial records dating back to 742 AD.
Walking past the Drum Tower and down Bai Yuan Men Jie, the main street, you'll start to notice as subtle change in dress, women with their hair covered in scarves, men looking a bit less "Han" in appearance. The Missus notes that even the language here was different.
Bai Yuan Men Jie is lined with shops. Many of them selling dried fruit, nuts, and other items that Xi'an is well known for....being that Xi'an was the Eastern terminus of the Silk Road, perhaps some of these items have a long history.
In one of the shops I came across the sesame and nut stuffed dried peppers we had in a dish in Jinan, One of the Missus's foodie uncle's had mentioned we'd be seeing this in Xi'an. I had a taste and man, this was pretty spicy....back of the throat spicy that got me coughing pretty good.
Quite a few snack shops along the street as well.
This one served up a bunch of different fried dough........
If you really want to see the "real action", it's all located on the side streets that branch out from Bai Yuan Men Jie.
This is where you'll see all of the produce, meat, and other vendors. We were told that there are folks who are raised, married, and die, who almost never leave this tiny enclave...... I'm not sure it's true, but it's quite a story.
The smells are intoxicating, there always seems to be a pot of something simmering or boiling over some pretty rustic stoves putting out some major heat.
And there were times where it didn't seem like we were in China.....
And of course, this was where most of the food stands were....like this one making Rou Jia Mo, often called "Chinese Hamburger" in signs, but more like a meat stir fry in pita bread. This stand was quite popular.....
It was pretty amazing the amont of heat that came out of this stove.......it looks simply like charcoal in a hole, but there is a fan contraption underneath.
As well as a bellow set-up......so things can get pretty hot.
I kinda enjoyed the Rou Jia Mo...
Though things get a bit crowded in the Muslim Quarter during the day, it was still pretty relaxed .
However, when the sun started going down......
Things behind the Drum Tower start heating up.....the crowds descend on the Muslim Quarter and it gets quite crowded.
I had to find areas to take a break from the mass of humanity at times.
I'm not a big fan of crowds, but we had to check things out because this was when all the grills came out!
The alleyways were full of little stands, all in turn filled with customers chewing away on skewers of yang rou chuan.
It was really amazing and somewhat alarming watching cars attempting to drive down the packed alleyways, but we saw no accidents.
I guess we enjoyed the Muslim Quarter, as we returned there on every day of our stay in Xi'an.......
Getting lost and wandering down the small streets that were like branches growing from the trunk that was Bai Yuan Men Jie.