Xi’an, China is most obviously known for the Terracotta Warriors and for its long history. In food however, the dumpling banquet is one of Xi’an’s most popular dishes that dates back to 25-220 AD. Dumplings are taken to the next level in Xi’an. Carefully mastered, there are dozens of different shapes, colors, tastes, and each cooked in different styles. It’s an art in itself.
The last dish is entertaining as they brought a hotpot of boiling soup and put in mini dumplings into the pot. We were greeted with a story before they served the soup. The amount of dumplings served in each bowl correlates to the amount of blessings you will have. While six dumplings in your soup means everything will go well, ten means you’re perfect in every way. Even if you have no dumplings in your soup, it means you have nothing to worry about and you’re in good health. This is just a glimpse of the importance and traditions of dumplings in China. Many of the different styles of dumplings even have their own story that dates back hundreds of years.
The restaurant where I went to is called De Fa Chang (德发长) and is located near the Drum Tower (make sure you go to the 2nd floor). It’s a very popular spot for dumpling banquets. Prices range from 120RMB to the thousands. By no means a cheap eat but you certainly get quite a feast of dumplings and more. Their English isn’t the greatest which I thought was odd for such a popular restaurant. We were not handed an English menu although we did spot several tables with foreigners. Not sure if an English menu existed somewhere but we just didn’t have one. Other than foreigners, there are quite a lot of Chinese tour groups and Chinese business men that like to eat here as well. With prices that range in the thousands for each person, it’s an upscale and professional restaurant.
We ordered the cheapest option of 120RMB each person and this is what we got.
- Four appetizer dishes. The cucumber dish being my favorite. Perfect to cleanse the taste of the dumplings.
- Three steamed containers of dumplings. Each had about 4 to 5 different styles of dumplings. One dumpling style for each person. This was sometimes deceiving because right when we thought we had finished, more dumplings came out. It was incredibly filling.
- Two sweets that were served after the containers. Seemed odd to serve these while more food still had to come out.
- A large platter of regular dumplings. There must’ve been another 15 or so dumplings on this plate. It was delicious but started to put us over the edge.
- A hotpot soup came out and cooked mini dumplings within the soup. Just as I described above, a lady came up to us and gave us a story as she served the soup. We weren’t a big fan of the soup but I did like the dumplings in the soup. The broth didn’t have much of a taste to it.
I don’t think I’d go again but it was definitely worth it. If you’re in Xi’an, China and you’re looking for a Chinese cultural food experience, the dumpling banquet might be a good choice.