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Pre-Meal Soup at Xinjiang and Lanzhou Restaurants


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When I lived in Shanghai, I often went to Xinjiang and Lanzhou restaurants (mainly on 番禺路 near Jiaotong University and on 百色路 right next to the north gate of Shanghai High School). Prior to serving rice dishes, they often served a small bowl of complementary thin soup. It's extremely delicious (in my opinion). The flavor is similar to that of the soup that comes with niu rou mian, but it's not precisely the same. Other than this, I don't really know how to describe it, so I guess the most important piece of information I can give is that it's served pre-meal. Does anyone know what this soup is called or how to make it?

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Yes it's tasty. Every 拉面 joint serves it. Some places start with a beef bone stock. Then add a few other items and spices, usually plenty of cumin.


Even though it is put on the table when you sit down, it's not necessarily meant to be consumed as a first course, or as a "pre-meal" item. It's fine to sip it all throughout your meal. Refills are free.


As you observed, you will be more likely to get it if you are ordering something served on a plate, such as 炒饭or 炒面片, instead of something that already comes in in a bowl with its own broth, such as 拉面 or 羊肉泡馍。


Here's a recipe: (Note -- I never tried making it at home.)



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Thanks for the responses.


So, what they're probably doing is simply taking the beef bone stock used in cooking other dishes and then adding certain spices to it to give it that clean, fresh taste that characterizes it? Cumin sounds like a reasonable candidate. Does anyone know any other spices that are added? It's the fresh, clean, slightly sharp taste of the soup that I'm eager to reproduce. I don't think I have ever encountered precisely that flavor in any soups I've had in the US.

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I don't think I have ever encountered precisely that flavor in any soups I've had in the US.


Agree with you completely. It's one of my favorite things at Chinese Huizu 回族/清真 restaurants. A unique taste, to the best of my knowledge.


Lots of those places in Kunming have signs outside advertising a Xinjiang or Lanzhou taste. But when I get to know the proprietors and staff, they turn out to actually be from Qinghai and sometimes from Shaanxi. The places I frequent usually add a sprinkling of Chinese garlic chives 韭菜。


I've gotten to know some of the staff and have asked about how they make noodles, but never asked about that soup. Might be a closely-guarded trade secret; I'm not really sure.


BTW, @Chef, welcome to the forums. The China Food thread here is not very active. We would welcome your contributions.


I'm no chef, but like to post recipes that I've made at home from time to time. Here is the last one:



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