Wandering around the streets of Kunming and you’ll come across lots of tempting food to fill your tummy. That being said, there’s also plenty of places where the fried rice floats in a puddle of oil.. Here’s a brief list to give you an idea and hopefully get your stomach rumbling for some good food. Just a few of my favourite places to grab a bite to eat..
Heavenly Manna: (74 Wenhua Xiang, just off of Wenlin Jie)
This is one of the first places that I ate at in Kunming and is usually the first place I take visitors to for their first Yunnan meal. The ceilings are a little low, so mind your head! It’s a colourful, simple little place with LOTS of vegetable dishes on offer. The menu is also in English which is really helpful for travellers and although the prices have gone up during the past 2 years it’s still reasonable. Like nearly all places in Kunming even if you order rice it won’t arrive so make sure you ask again and again! Everything I’ve eaten here has been really good and although I want to try it all, I often stick to my old favourites as they are just too good to pass up. They have the usual selection of beers and do great banana smoothies.
My top 3:
1. Yunnan goats cheese with broccoli
2. Yunnan style crispy red beans with mint
3. Laonai yangyu – grandma’s potatoes
Actually, all the veggie dishes are pretty good and for a refreshing option try the cucumber with lime and chilli.
Hong Dou Yuan 红豆园 : (142 Wenlin Jie)
I think this has to be my ultimate favourite! I actually have dreams about their food..
This is a really popular place with Kunming locals. You’ll find lots of families come here to enjoy some Yunnan classics. It can get pretty busy and closes early (try to go before 20:30). It’s a simple place but it’s the food that really makes it special. There is a big picture of a grandma on the outside, you can’t miss it.
My top 3:
1. Er kuai with chicken in spicy sauce
2. Grated potatoes
3. Tofu & crab soup
As You Like 有佳面包店: (5 Tianjundian Xiang, tiny alley off of Wenlin Jie next to Dune Bar)
My favourite cafe in Kunming, it’s a beautiful little 80 year old house, with lovely decorations and furniture. It’s VERY small but this just makes it even more special, sitting on cushions or little stools it feels like a relaxed afternoon at home. All their dishes are vegetarian and full of goodness.
They have excellent pizza and bread. Jia Jia and Tom are constantly coming up with delicious new recipes, so make sure you go!
Yingjiang Daiweiyuan 盈江傣味园: (Luofeng Jie. Walk up from Green Lake towards Yuantong Temple and turn right into Luofeng Jie at the second intersection, stay on the right side and you will see a little entrance heading up the side of a shop that leads to the restaurant)
Just one of the places in Kunming where you can find the wonderful cuisine of the Dai people of Xishuangbanna. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to get down to Xishuangbanna myself, so I don’t really know what authentic Dai food should taste like. However, to my inexperienced taste buds the food tastes pretty amazing and I would definitely recommend you try it, especially if you don’t have time to head to the south of Yunnan.
You can find the sister restaurants of this place on Cui Hu Bei Lu and off of Jinmafang Square. The other two have better decor and are a little more posh but I think this one has the best food. Lots of low tables are scattered around with another load in what looks like an old basketball court.
The dishes wrapped in banana leaves are all delicious, especially the bamboo shoots. The pineapple purple rice is pretty good and I love getting to scoop the pineapple out at the end, although it sometimes is a bit too sweet and ends up like a dessert. Be adventurous There are pictures for every dish so it’s pretty easy to order. The flavours of most of the dishes are sharp and spicy from the chillies and the lime gives them a nice sourness.
Some other great but more expensive options are… 1910 La Gare du Sud (火车南站) where you can eat in an old French train station, it’s a bit pricey but great atmosphere for a special occasion. Lao Fangzi (老房子), near the bird and flower market, is within a beautiful old house and you can eat in the rooms or the courtyard. The hostel Lost Garden (一丘田七号客栈) near the Green Lake (7, Yiqiutian) is a great place to eat a lazy breakfast or a pizza on a sunny afternoon. They have a rooftop terrace and it’s one of the few places in the city where you can really relax and get away from it all. The next one is not really Yunnan food but it’s ridiculously hao chi..the Thai Hot Pot restaurant in the Parkson Shopping Centre on Sanshi Jie. I can spend literally hours there eating my way through tons of seafood and they have really good sauces that you can choose from. It is pretty pricey but if you share the smaller option of hot pot between 3 hungry people it’s fine. The waiters/waitresses are really lovely and you can sit back and take your time without feeling that you need to free up your table for the next customer.
I haven’t included any cheap noodle places or street snacks as I feel they deserve their own post! =) If you have any questions about these places, need more info or want to suggest somewhere, please feel free to comment at the bottom of this post.
So, all I have left to say is…mànmàn chī!