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A taste of China / Food & Drink

A 100-year-old Muslim restaurant serves the best Lamb Paomo

By Weiwei Guan

February 14

To know more about Xi’an, an imperial capital in ancient China, you should start with a bowl of lamb soup and pita bread.

To know more about Xi’an, an imperial capital in ancient China, you should start with a bowl of lamb soup and pita bread.

Lamb Paomo can be traced back to the West Zhou Period (1046 B.C.-771 B.C.). Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty used to serve Lamb Paomo to his generals. Handed down for thousands of years, the process of making the dish has become a cultural heritage.

Where to taste a bowl of authentic Lamb Paomo?

Founded in 1898 during the reign of Emperor Guangxu, Lao Sun Jia Restaurant in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province serves Muslim food from its two-storey building. The restaurant was rebuilt in 1990. There is a 1000 square-meter museum on the fourth floor of the restaurant, exhibiting the history of Muslim cuisine with sculptures, pictures, table models, and multi-media displays.

Inside western China’s Museum of Muslim Cuisine [Photo provided to China.org.cn]
Lao Sun Jia is now a time-honored brand and Liu Huaqing, Commander of the PLA Navy from 1982 through 1988, dubbed its lamb soup the “best bowl in the world” (天下第一碗), now the restaurant’s slogan.

Inside western China’s Museum of Muslim Cuisine [Photo provided to China.org.cn/Zhao Jing]
Lamb Paomo is especially popular in winter and Xi’an has hundreds of restaurants that serve the dish. Lao Sun Jia stands out for its ingredients and unique cooking method.

 

Lamb Paomo
Lamb Paomo [Photo provided to China.org.cn]
They use meat from cattle and sheep raised on grasslands in northwestern China. The soup is boiled for ten hours with more than ten kinds of Chinese herbs. The Pita bread in the soup is made of flour from the Guanzhong Plain, home of the country’s best wheat.

Before the Lamb Paomo is served, customers break the pita bread into small pieces. The chef then puts mutton, vermicelli and chopped green onions on the bread before boiling the ingredients together in lamb soup.

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