Yunnan nestled in China’s southwest mountains is an unusual gastronomic center. Taking a culinary adventure in Yunnan is a foodie’s dream – there are unique Yunnan flavor foods, enticing food cities, interesting Yunnan culture of gastronomy and a dazzling array of folk cuisines for you to discover. This is the list of the most famous Chinese foods & snacks to try in Yunnan, also with the best places to enjoy the foods. Don’t miss them when traveling in Yunnan.
>> Highly recommended 9 days Food Tour in Yunnan with cookery lessons and more
Crossing Bridge Rice Noodles
Where to eat: Mengzi (the birthplace of crossing bridge rice noodles), Kunming, Lijiang
A must-eat food in Yunnan, crossing bridge rice noodles is a unique Yunnan flavor food. It pairs Chinese rice noodles with nutritious soup, diverse food materials, such as ham, shallots, quail eggs, chicken, pork, beef, sheets of bean curd, vegetable, mushroom, etc. and ingredients like coriander, onion, source, etc. Therefore, it is not just a bowl of rice noodles, but also with a dozen small plates of side dishes.
Yunnan Style Steamed Chicken
Where to eat: Jianshui, Kunming
A famous Yunnan dish, it has been handed down for over 2000 years, and originated in Jianshui.The chicken is steamed with ginger, salt, scallions, nuts and herb medicine in a specially-made earthenware steamer – in order to retain its freshness. After being steamed for 3 to 4 hours, thedelicious chicken dish is ready. You can even taste steam foods banquet in Jianshui.
Where to eat: Kunming, Chuxiong, Yuxi, Qujing, Shangri-la
Yunnan is the kingdom of mushrooms that grow wild in the deep of mountains. There are about thousand kinds of fungi can be found and tasted in Yunnan, including termitomyces albuminosus, boletus, truffle, chanterelle, and so forth. You can try mushroom hot pot and taste the braised, stir-fry, roasted mushroom, and even the mushroom pancake.
Where to eat: Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La, Nujiang, Xishuangbanna, etc.
A popular snack and breakfast in Yunnan, bābā are found in almost all cities, each with their own flavors and cooking methods, e.g. Xizhou bābā stuffed with meat and green onion, the salty or sweet Lijiang bābā, Diqing bābā to be eaten with yak butter tea, Nujiang bābā cooked on flagstone…
Yunnan Yiliang Roast Duck
Where to eat: Jianshui, Yiliang in Kunming
A historic dish, Yunnan style Roast Duck has a history of over 600 years. It blends the original Chinese roast duck flavor and local cuisine features. It is crispy and tender, and tastes like Beijing Roast Duck, but more than that.
Jianshui Grilled Tofu
Where to eat: Jianshui
A bite of China (a famous gourmet in China) highly recommends the Jianshui’s grilled tofu as a delicious traditional street food in the night markets. The tofu are cut into small pieces and cooked slowly over a charcoal fire with oil, pickled bean curd, specialty sauce and chili powder.
Where to eat: Dali
A unique food in Yunnan, dairy fan is a yummy dairy product invented by Dali Bai people. It has the similar texture and creamy yellow color with chips (some are in milk white), but is shaped like Chinese a fan, hence the name. Dairy fan is not only a popular snack among local people, but also a famous dim sum served on the banquet.
Where to eat: Tengchong, Kunming
A popular traditional food in Yunnan, Er Kuai is a kind of rice-flour cake that is made into blocks, slices or shreds (Er Si). Local people have various different methods to cook Er Kuai, such as stir-fry Er Kuai, deep-fry Er Kuai, steam, braise, or stew Er Kuai, fry rice nooles with Er Si.
Kunming Pickled Vegetables
Where to eat: Kunming
There is an old saying goes that, “Kunming pickled vegetables are Yunnan people’s favor food”.They can be an appetizer when cold or a main course for daily meal after being stir-fried.
Dai Style Bamboo-tubed-cooked Rice
Where to eat: Xishuangbanna, Dehong, Pu’er, Lincang
It is a delicious ethnic dish in Yunnan invented by Dai people. Put the glutinous rice with water into the fresh bamboo tube, cover the tube hole with clean banana leaves or cane leaves, and cook the bamboo tube on the fire.
Where to eat: Jiangchuan in Yuxi, Dali
In Yunnan, there are many different ways to cook fish. They are steamed in copper pot or casserole, stewed with papaya and tofu, or boiled with ham and dried slices of tender bamboo shoots. Local people also make delicate cold fish jelly. If you’re fish dish enthusiasts, make sure you try the cooper pot fish in Jiangchuan and casserole fish in Dali. Jiangchuan’s Fuxian Lake and Dali’s Erhai Lake are rich in different species of edible fish.
Yak Butter Tea
Where to eat: Lijiang, Shangri-La
A popular (and necessary) everyday drinks in the Tibetan area of Shangri-La and Lijiang, yak butter tea is usually drunk by local people with zanba (roasted qingke barley flour) to refresh the brain and quench thirst.
Where to eat: Xuanwei in Qujing, Kunming, and other places
A renowned local speically food in Yunnan, Xuanwei ham is produced in Xuanwei City, hence the name. The row materials of pork need to be pickled, fermented and air dried. Xuanwei ham can be steamed, stired, boiled and cooked in many other ways. Even the fomous Yunnan ham mooncake is stuffed with Xuanwei ham.
Where to eat: Mangshi, Ruili in Dehong and Xishuangbanna
An original Thai and Burmese drinks, paoluda is also popular in Yunnan. It pairs icy milk with sago, purple rice, papaya, butter bread, coconut shred, etc. – 12 materials in all. So it tastes sweet, crispy and refreshed.
Yunnan Style Cold Rice Noodles
Where to eat: Kunming, Yuxi
The cooking method of cold rice noodles is quite different from crossing bride rice noodles. After being boiled with water, the rice nooldes need to be cooled off with cold water. Then mixed the rice noodles with tofu pudding or stewed meat (two different flavors), and other ingredients such as sesame, peanut, sour beans, leeks, cilantro, chopped pickles, and soy sauce or chili sauce.
Where to eat: Zhaotong, Tengchong, Huize, Lincang
Especially popular in summer, creamed pea can clear summer heat. Locals usually have it for breakfast and mix creamed pea with rice noodles, steamed rice noodle rolls, Er Kuai or deep-fried dough stick. Don’t miss the seasonings such as oil chili, coriander, soy sauce, sesame oil, etc.
Deep-fried Pea Flour
Where to eat: Dali, Baoshan, Tengchong
Have a similar making method to creamed pea for the first few steps, but it has to be deep fried after being creamed. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and you’ll get the delicious and crispy deep-fried pea flour. No wonder it was also listed a traditional snack to try in Yunnan by A Bite of China.
Edible Wild Herbs
Where to eat: Pu’er, Xishuangbanna, Lincang, DehongYunnan’s edible wild herbs are gifts of nature and unusual foods for foodies around the world. Most of the herbs have very odd and uncommon names, and plain (or strange) looking, but taste really good. Some edible wild herbs are Chinese herb medicine, and can be simmered with soup. While some are tasty green vegetables.
Where to eat: Xishuangbanna, Mangshi, Ruili
The insect foods are part of the ethnic minority cuisines in Yunnan. Yes, the idea sounds really crazy. The locust, ant, chrysalis, cicada, bamboo insect, honey bee pupae… are cooked as foods. There are even insect food festivals in many remote areas. It is safe and healthy to eat insects in Yunnan, but don’t worry, you won’t be forced to try them.
>> Contact us for a tailor-made genuine culinary adventure in Yunnan.