I have officially died and woken up in Street Food Heaven. Directly ouside our hotel near the Drum Tower is a local food street filled from one end to the other with steaming, delicious street food.
My first meal in Xi’an is a huge, hot bowl of hand cut noodles. Now I don’t know if hand-cut noodles (dao xiao miàn – literally knife cut noodles -刀削麵) originated in Shaanxi province, where I am, or next door Shanxi province, which is totally different, but spelled almost identically. Very confusing. I do know that they are incredibly delicious and fascinating to watch as they are made.
The noodles are made and cooked to order from a slab of wheat dough, rolled into a large loaf shape then pressed firmly onto a rectangular wooden board, held just below shoulder height in the left hand. The noodle -maker stands over the steaming cauldron of boiling water and then deftly and rapidly slices thin strips of dough off the slab, with a swiftly flashing sharp knife. The noodle strips fly through the air and land with a splash-splash-splash! in the pot. Not a single one falls on the ground, the sign of a practised cook.
After cooking, the noodles are added to a rich broth, with the addition of greens, coriander, and spicy meat; or dressed simply in a rich spicy sauce. Both are delicious, and the noodles have a great chewy texture in the middle, and are ribbon-thin at the edges. About 6 yuan a bowl ($1).