Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province, is an absolutely beautiful city in China’s south central part right above Southeast Asia. Surrounded by mountains, Kunming is one of the most culturally diverse cities in China and is quickly becoming a popular destination for travelers looking to explore China’s hiking and backpacking spots. No matter where you go exploring in Kunming, or China for that matter, Spoonhunt has great dining options for you to check out nearby. Here is our list for top 10 must eat foods while in Kunming.
You can find all of these foods and restaurants on the Spoonhunt App.
10. Stinky Tofu 臭豆腐
Recently named a UNESCO Cultural Heritage item, Kunming's special Stinky, Hairy Tofu is the beginning of this list for obvious controversial reasons. While it is loved by locals, stinky tofu is a hard sell to foreigners. Lots of people will cross the street just to get away from the smell of the street vendors. This fermented tofu dish is not to be missed by those daring enough to try it.
9. Xuanwei Ham 宣威腿
Yunnan Ham has a history that goes back 250 years. While many restaurants carry it and serve it in their own style, it's really more about the ham than it is the style. This particular type of ham is so famous and popular because of the breed of pig used is high in body fat content and muscle quality. In 1909 it began being mass produced and by 1915 it won an international gold medal.
8. Ru Bing 乳饼
Ru Bing is the Chinese name for pan-fried goat cheese. The Bai and Sani ethnic minorities in Yunnan created and made this dish a Kunming classic. The goat's milk used for making the cheese must be firm, acid-set, non-melting and fresh in order to get the high quality for the dish. The milk is hjeated and mixed with a souring agent. It can be stir-fried with vegetables or served with just spicy powder for dipping.
7. Pineapple Rice 菠萝饭
Pineapple rice is a signature dish of the Dai cultural people that live in Yunnan and other parts of Southern China. The rice is typically a mixture of purple and white that is soaked overnight then steamed for an hour to make it gluntinous and sticky. Pineapple flesh, raisins, rocksugar, salt, coconut milk and sliced almonds are usually add and served in a hollowed out pineapple. Since Yunnan cuisine is typically spicy this sweet dish is a nice compliment.
6. Pu'Er Tea 普洱茶
Pu'Er Tea is native to Yunnan and only Yunnan, so when you're visiting Kunming you have to have a taste of it. Pu'Er is a black tea and typically comes in big bricks. Pu Er Tea is one of the oldest teas in the world. Because of the way it is fermented and oxidized, Pu Er is a very dark tea with a strong taste. It is even called a "living tea" because it will continue to naturally ferment itself over time, like fine wine. The name for this tea comes from the trading post for dark tea in Imperial China.
5. Braised Wild Mushrooms 红烧鸡枞
Because of Kunming's geographic location many different types of wild mushrooms grow freely and are used in a lot of classic dishes. Jizong is one kind of wild mushroom that come up during the hotter months of the year after a rainfall. Jizong mushrooms taste like chicken and for this dish they are braised in soy sauce and stir-fried in hot oil. It is served with tenderloin pieces, garlic, ginger and shallot.
4. Yunnan Mashed Potatoes 老奶洋芋
Yunnan Mashed Potatoes are often called Grandma's Potatoes, as this is a classic homestyle dish in Kunming is so soft, little old grannys with no teeth can still eat it. The potatoes are first mashed and boiled, like regular Western mashed potatoes, but then after are stir-fried with coriander, chives,
3. Rice Cake/Er Kuai 饵块
Er Kuai is made with high quality rice that is cooked then pressed into a square "cake" shape. When it cools, the cake retains it's shape. From there, the cake can be stir-fried, boiled or roasted. In Yunnan and Kunming, it is typically gently roasted over a charcoal fire and is often eaten for Chinese New Year. It is often served with stir-fried vegetables and numb and spicy sauce, or it can be found as a popular street snack rolled up with youtiao.
2. Steam Pot Chicken 汽锅鸡
While this dish seems very simple, Steamed Pot Chicken is prepared in a very special pot that has a hollow tube in the middle. Ginger, Chicken, shallot, pepper and salt are put in the pot to be steamed for a few hours. The steamed travels up the tube and hits the cold pot top, condensing into water and becoming the soup's stock. This dish has been around since the Qing Dynasty and can be found at a lot of the fantastic century old restaurants in Kunming.
1. Crossing Bridge Rice Noodles 过桥米线
One of the most well-known dishes in Yunnan is Crossing Bridge Rice Noodles. The story behind the name is that a scholar was studying hard for his imperial exams on a small island. His wife would bring him food across the bridge, but the noodles would be cold by the time he got them. To keep them warm, she separated the soup and the ingredients in earthen pots and mixed them once she got over, keeping them warm.
The dish itself is a large bowl of boiling broth served with serperate ingredients, including turkey, chicken, tofu, chives, sprouts, lettuce, eggs and rice noodles. It is like the pho of Chinese cuisine.
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