"Variety is the Spice of Life": Kunming’s Best Multiethnic Dishes

"Variety is the Spice of Life": Kunming’s Best Multiethnic Dishes

The impressive variety of dishes available in Kunming is most certainly a reflection of Yunnan Province's multiethnic character. Local cuisine, such Cross the Bridge Rice Noodles, Clay Pot Chicken and Pineapple Rice, are characteristic of both the local climate as well as the local culture. Below are some of our favorite dishes to sample when travelling around the area.

1) Cross the Bridge Rice Noodles
Cross the Bridge Rice Noodles (过桥米线) is the most famous and characteristic dish in Kunming (and Yunnan Province in general).  As the story goes, the dish was invented by a woman making dinner for her husband, who was busy preparing for the imperial examinations in his study, located across a bridge from the kitchen. Every time she made him noodles, they'd be cold by the time she finally crossed the bridge and arrived at his study. Eventually, the wife came up with a clever way to keep the noodles warm: by adding hot oil to the broth. The soup was an instant success with her husband, and the original recipe is still a welcome sight on any table. 

Authentic cross the bridge has an oily soup base, thin rice noodles and a variety of meats, vegetables and seasonings.  The noodles are served tableside, while the waiter brings over a large bowl of hot oily broth, noodles, and slices of sausage, pork, meat, vegetables and raw quail eggs.  The mixture is then boiled in the broth at your table and then is ready to serve.  This flavorful soup will surely become a favorite of yours, but be careful not to burn your tongue, as it's very hot!

Recommend: Qiaoxiang Yuan Cross the Bridge Noodles (桥香园过桥米线)View In Map

Add: 2 Shulin Jie, Wuhua District, Kunming (near Jinbi Square)
Tel: 087 1364 5275
Opening hours: 07:00-23:30
Price: 15+ RMB
Getting there: Take bus No. 3, 4, 62, 73, 90, 98, 107, 206, 213 or a1 to Jinmafang (金马坊站)

2) Clay Pot Chicken
Clay pot chicken (汽锅鸡) is another one of Yunnan's signature dishes. The chicken is cooked in a clay pot made from Jianshui County's famous clay, which gives the chicken a very special flavor. The chicken, carefully chosen for its size and fat content, is steamed in the clay pot and seasoned with ginger, onion, salt and pepper. Traditional Chinese medicinal plants such as sanqi (三七), tianma (天麻) and chongcao (虫草) are also added to the broth. There are several types of medicinal soups to choose from, although chongcao clay pot chicken is the most popular.

Recommended: Fuzhaolou Clay Pot Chicken Restaurant-Jinjiang Branch (福照楼汽锅鸡饭店-锦江店)View In Map
Add: Building 1, Jinjiang Hotel, 98 Beijing Lu, Guandu District, Kunming
Tel: 087 1355 6858
Opening hours: 11:00-21:00
Price: 58 RMB (small), 78 RMB (medium), 98 RMB (large)
Getting there: Take bus No. 2, 23, 47, 83 or 236 to Beijing Lu (北京路)

3) Old Milk Potato
The odd name hardly does any justice to this tasty dish. Old Milk Potato (老奶洋芋) is a zesty and spicy mashed potato dish that one can only find within Yunnan Province. Potatoes are boiled, pealed, mashed and fried in a pan with oil, onions and spices. These aren't your mom's mashed potatoes (unless your mom is from Yunnan), but they sure are a delicious treat.

Recommended: Mana-Culture Alley Branch (吗哪-文化巷店)View In Map

Add: 76-15 Culture Alley, Wuhua District, Kunming (Near Wenlin Jie)
Tel: 087 1536 9399
Opening hours: 11:30-21:30
Price: 35 RMB
Getting there: Take bus No. 1, 85, 101, 125 or 139 to Fuyong Dao (府甬道站)

4) Dajiujia
When the Qing army invaded Kunming, the Ming Dynasty Emperor Zhu Youlang fled to the Tengchong District. By the time he arrived, he was starving. Fortunately, a plate of stir-fried rice pieces was waiting for him, and it's said that upon finishing the dish he proclaimed, "Stir fried rice pieces saved my life!", hence the name Dajiujia which means "to save one's life".  Dajiujia (大救驾) is made with stir-fried rice cake pieces called erkuai (饵块), and has long been a Yunnan specialty. The erkuai are quite slippery (you'd better brush up on your chop stick skills), semisweet and not very oily.

Recommended: Dajiujia (大救驾)View In Map

Add: Xiba Lu, Shanxi District, Kunming (from Yunnan Baiyaoguang, walk 100 meters towards Jinmanfang)
Getting there: Take bus No. 4, 22, 62, 120, 156, 160, 184, 185 or a1 to Baiyaoguang (白药厂站)

5) Pineapple Rice
Pineapple rice (菠萝饭) is another treat that shouldn't be missed while visiting Kunming. The dish comes from the Dai ethnic minority. While the ingredients can be found anywhere, the best time and place to enjoy this dish is in Kunming during the spring, as it's peak pineapple season in Yunnan. The ingredients in Pineapple Rice include: pineapple, rock sugar, almonds, and raisins, which give the dish a sweet, aromatic flavor. 

Recommended: Dai Family Bamboo House (傣家竹楼)View In Map

Add: 66 Sanheying Lu, Wuhua District, Kunming
Tel: 087 1361 8908
Opening hours: 11:30-21:30
Price: 55 RMB
Getting there: Take bus No. 5, 10, 14, 26, 52, 66, 82, 84, 98, 124 or 207 to Yishu Juyuan (艺术剧院站)

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Keywords: Kunming specialty dishes Kunming ethnic cuisine


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