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The Muslim population of Xian is originally descended from Arab traders that migrated here along the Silk Road. The land-borne silk trade may have faded away centuries ago, but a central Asian flavour still permeates Xian, and it emanates from this famous corner of the Muslim quarter.

Located within the shadow of the Drum Tower, Humin Jie is a 500-metre street lined with restaurants whose proprietors are almost exclusively Chinese Muslims. The food is characteristically central Asian; featuring barbecued lamb skewers, thick noodles and heavy breads though there are some special local delicacies. Snacks include a mutton-stuffed pancake (Liu Yang Rou Paomo) and thin noodles with mincemeat (Shaozi Mien) which can be picked up at any of the smaller snack stalls and enjoyed al fresco as you pound the pavement looking for your main course. A sit down meal in one of the larger establishments is a rewarding experience, but be aware that most will not cater to lone diners. If you want to make the most of your dining experience, corral some fellow travellers into joining you for a banquet of everything on the menu. Be sure not to miss out on the Sinkiang Black Beer which is served commonly in this type of eatery. Much like a light stout, this brew is bottled in western China's Xinjiang Province and is a snip at around Y10 a bottle. Fill your gut with it at the restaurant, because few bars in China have cottoned on to the fact that this is one of the finest beers made in the country.

(www.chinaspringtour.com)

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