Xining is the capital of Qinghai province in western China and the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau. It has 2,208,708 inhabitants at the 2010 census among whom 1,198,304 live in the built-up area made of 4 urban districts.
The city was a commercial hub along the Northern Silk Road’s Hexi Corridor for over 2000 years and a stronghold of the Han, Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties’ resistance against nomadic attacks from the west. Although along a part of Gansu province, Xining was added to Qinghai in 1928. Xining holds sites of religious significance to Muslims and Buddhists, including the Dongguan Mosque and Ta’er Monastery.
In Xining, some restaurants serve varieties of ‘plateau flavor’, such as Feng’er Liji (a round lamb tenderloin), Danbai Chongcao Ji (a medicine cuisine made of chicken, Chinese caterpillar fungus and eggs), Jinyu Facai (pork wrapped in flagelliform nostoc and shaped as a goldfish) among others. These dishes are often cooked by the locals at home.
There are also many small restaurants offering noodles. Gan Ban is a very common noodle dish. Perhaps Mian Pian, which means “noodle leaves” is the most common noodle plate among the Qinghai people. On the streets, many Muslims sell spicy lamb brochettes. Due to the cold climate, residents of Xining are also fond of strong spirits—Xining has the reputation of being one of the heaviest regions of alcohol consumption in China.