Feast to Your Heart’s Content – Food and Drinks to try in Kunming
More than stunning landscapes, cultural heritage, and handicrafts, Kunming in China is known for having a diverse and delicious cuisine. Prepared with a fusion of Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Tibetan flavours, the culinary experience is also heavily influenced by the region's rich ethnic diversity, incorporating ingredients and techniques from the Yi, Bai, and other minority groups. From spicy hotpots to refreshing rice noodles and savoury steamed buns, foodies are in for a gastronomical adventure with these must-try items!
Crossing-The-Bridge Rice Noodles
Cooked in a variety of ways, Yunnan is known for rice noodles and this dish in particular, is a speciality. Served with a large bowl of hot broth and a dozen small plates with fresh meat slices, raw quail eggs and various vegetables, the heat of the boiling soup acts as an agent to cook the ingredients as soon as the dish is served. For a finishing touch, a layer of goose oil is added on the top of the soup for heat preservation. In Yunnan’s Mengzi city where the dish originated from, locals add edible chrysanthemum flowers for extra flavours.
Steam-pot chicken is a popular dish in Kunming, where the chicken is cooked in a pot over boiling water, hence gaining its name. The locals add ginger, shallot, pepper, and salt to marinate the chicken in the pot and let it heat for about four hours, where the steam from within the pot comes into contact with the pot’s lid and condenses into water, flowing back into the pot as delicious chicken broth. With this special cooking method, the chicken is tender and juicy when ready, and is usually served with dipping sauces for some added tastes.
Roasted Rice Cakes
These rice cakes are a unique snack found within the Yunnan area. It is a popular breakfast option among the locals, and you can find many street food stalls in Kunming selling them. The dish is made with a mix of white and purple rice. Grounding the cooked rice and forming them into flattened square or round shapes, they are then toasted and brushed with sesame sauce or spicy sauce. To enjoy this snack like a local, try adding a deep-fried dough stick, sausage, or ham for that savoury kick.
Yunnan Stuffed Bun
Yunnan stuffed bun is another popular snack found in many of Kunming’s food stalls along the streets. Made using low-gluten flour and lard with ham, diced meat, sugar and chopped dried mushrooms in its filling, the bun is recognised for its flaky skin that resembles the texture of a croissant but is soft on touch. Sugar is used to accentuate the flavour of the meat filling. Bite into one while it is still hot and you will be reaching for another one before you know it.
With its increasingly popularity, Yunnan coffee is not to be missed on your travels in Kunming, China. The province's unique geography, high-altitude mountainous regions and abundant rainfall provides the ideal conditions for growing quality coffee beans. Characterised by a smooth, mellow taste, Yunnan coffee gives off hints of chocolate and nuts and some may even taste sweetness in it. Give this specialty coffee a try when you are in Kunming!