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Xizhou Baba – The Best Street Food in Dali, Yunnan China

Article by Lost Plate Food Tours

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Xizhou is the name of a village just outside Dali’s old town in China’s Yunnan province. Baba is local slang for bread. Xizhou Baba is the greatest thing since sliced bread – literally! As you walk along the cobble stone streets of Xizhou, it won’t take you long to recognize old charcoal ovens that bake this famous local street food. Peek inside a Baba shop, and you’ll see fresh dough being kneaded and prepared by hand. You’ve got to try this addictive snack yourself!

Watch Xizhou Baba Being Made!

We visited Mr. and Mrs. Yang, five generation Xizhou Baba makers who run the self-proclaimed oldest shop doing so in town. Mr. Yang’s parents have retired and passed the business on to their son, but still hang out in their house in back of the shop to keep eye on things.

Xizhou Village

Xizhou Baba Best Street Food in Dali Village

But you can’t talk about Xizhou Baba without talking about Xizhou, the village where it comes from. This small, countryside village is a peculiar mix of trendy tourists venturing off the beaten path and long time locals who have enjoyed their simple life for generations. Historically Xizhou was home to the province’s richest, traders who made their wealth along the ancient tea and horse trading route – and signs of that prosperity can still be found today hiding behind hip storefronts, galleries, and cafes.

Mr. & Mrs. Yang's Baba Shop

Xizhou Baba Best Street Food in Dali Oven

Mrs. Yang starts with what she calls “old dough”, a mix of fresh wheat dough prepared the night before and leftover dough from the previous day – a practice they’ve been following since the shop started decades ago. Each piece is then topped with lard that’s stuffed inside – and then rolled flat and topped with some more. Using her own technique, they are then perfectly folded, and stuffed with a homemade jam made of rose petals red bean paste – plus a healthy amount of brown sugar. Finally they’re rolled flat and ready for baking.

There’s also a savory variety, which starts with lard and then sprinkled with salt and pepper, topped with ground pork and green onion, and then stuffed, folded, and chopped before finally rolled up and flattened.

All of the babas then get a brush with oil, the savory ones get topped with more pork and green onion, and then they’re ready for the best part – the oven – which is something you’ve got to witness yourself!! ( psst: watch the video above)

They’ll sell up to 1000 baba every day, and most of the clientele here are locals, and for them they’ll even make an off-menu baba with a cracked egg on top. When they’re done, they’re kept warm in a bamboo basket until purchased and sliced – and they don’t last long!

Want to visit Xizhou and Mr. and Mrs. Yang's Baba Shop?

Come join us! Our 8-day trip along Yunnan’s Tea & Horse Road from Dali to Lijiang spends a night in Xizhou and we get an up-close visit to Mr. and Mrs. Yang’s shop to eat all the Baba you want!

If you’d like to learn more about our all-inclusive trip from Dali, through Shaxi and Tiger Leaping Gorge, to Lijiang, click here for more details and to view the full itinerary. Contact Us with questions or to reserve your spot on one of our next trips.

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