It would be a shame to leave Xi’an without sampling paomo, its signature dish. This is basically a meat soup – there are both lamb (羊肉泡馍, yángròu pāomó) and beef (牛肉泡馍, niúròu pāomó) versions – poured over a bowlful of tiny bread cubes. At many restaurants, diners are given discs of bread and encouraged to do the cubing themselves. Most foreigners seem to prefer the taste and texture of larger chunks – this will likely be met with a scornful look from your waitress, since locals take their time with this process, producing something almost akin to breadcrumbs. The bowl is then taken to the kitchen and piled with shredded meat and noodles, and it’s all served with cloves of pickled garlic and chilli paste for you to tip in as required.

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