You probably have found Yunnan foods in Beijing, Shanghai, and many overseas cities like Chicago, Singapore, Toronto and Sydney, but to taste the authentic Yunnan foods, you have to make your way to the places of origin of the foods – the legendary gastronomic cities, towns and even remote villages.
>> Travel to Yunnan’s top food cities with wonderful gastronomic experiences and hands-on cookery lessons in our 9-day Yunnan Food Tour
Dali: Bai Minority Cuisine and Fish Dishes from Erhai Lake
Dali is not only a famous tourist destination in China, but also a popular food city that boasts distinctive Bai minority cuisine. Dali dishes usually taste sour and spicy. The food materials are diverse, including chicken, fish, fungi, edible wild herbs, wild flowers…
For foodies to delve deeper into Dali cuisine, you’re encouraged to travel to Weishan Ancient Town with a food culture rich and Nuodeng Ancient Village, famous for its ham.
In addition to savory dishes, Dali cuisine also includes a thrilling variety of street foods.
Must-eat foods in Dali: fish stewed in casserole, braised chicken, papaya chicken, granny potato, three-course tea, Dali hot and sour fish, cold chicken rice noodle, Weishan one noodle, Nuodeng ham, fish gel
Famous street food of Dali: dairy fan, Xizhou baba, Erkuai, Ersi, carved plum, green bean cake (in Weishan)
Popular food streets in Dali: main streets inside Dali Ancient Town, Weishan Ancient Town, Nuodeng Village
Kunming, plus Jiangchuan
A city of gastronomy in China, Kunming’s cuisine absorbs the essence of different cuisines of Yunnan. So you can taste a wide spectrum of traditional Yunnan dishes and snacks in Kunming, apart from its local specialty foods, such as steam pot chicken and pickled vegetables.
Some people think Kunming Cuisine is very like the spicy Sichuan cuisine, but actually Kunming cuisine is of much milder taste and focuses more on the original flavor and fresh food ingredients.
For foodies fond of fish dish, travel further from Kunming to Jiangchuan in Yuxi City, where the beautiful and resourceful Fuxian Lake offers various fresh delicious fish that can be cooked in different ways.
Must-eat foods in Kunming: steam pot chicken, pickled vegetables, mushroom hot pot banquet, several styles of Yunnan rice noodles, beef dishes, gastrodia hot pot chicken, Yiliang roasted duck, granny potato, Jiangchuan salt water fish, fish stewed in copper, Jiangchuan hot pot
Famous street food of Kunming: flower cake, ham moon cake, dairy cake, Guandu baba, ice porridge, bean flour tangyuan, Shao Erkuai, bean flour pudding (xi dou fen), Kunming chips
Popular food streets in Kunming: Nanping Street, Xiangyun Street, Xiyuan Road, Guanshang Middle Road, Fengning Night Market, Heping Village Street
Jianshui – Historical Cuisine
An essential part of Yunnan Cuisine, the current Jianshui Cuisine can be traced back to more than 700 years ago. Each of the dishes and foods has a legendary story. Therefore if planning a food tour to Jianshui, make sure you don’t miss the historical foods.
Besides, Jianshui has been mainly inhabited by ethnic minority people, including Hani, Yi, Miao, Dai, Hui and Dai, thus the cuisine also blends the distinctive features of different minority folk cuisines.
Must-eat foods in Jianshui: steam pot banquet (e.g. steam pot chicken, steam pot rice noodles), dishes of grass shoot (cao ya), Jianshui roast duck, copper pot delicacies, grated pork with goat's milk, chieftain’s banquet
Famous street food of Jianshui: Jianshui Grilled Tofu, edible bird's nest cake, bubble cake (pao gao), lion cake, lotus root with glutinous rice, Jianshui steamed bun, chu si gao, Jianshui barbeque
Popular food streets in Jianshui: Jianshui Ancient Town, the 12 Flavor Workshops of West Gate on Yinghui Road and Qingyuan Road
Mengzi – Authentic Crossing Bridge Rice Noodles
Mengzi is the birthplace of crossing bridge rice noodles - arguably the most famous food in Yunnan. For foodies, no visit to Yunnan is complete without savoring crossing bridge rice noodles. There are a set of rules to make and eat this delicacy. So find yourself a local traditional famous restaurant to feast on the most authentic crossing bridge rice noodles, which is like a banquet but only for one person.
Mengzi also offers an array of local classic dishes that worth a try.
Must-eat foods in Mengzi: chrysanthemum crossing bridge rice noodles, steamed pork with rice flour, the traditional eight dishes (tu ba wan)
Famous street food of Mengzi: baked bean curd, Mengzi New Year cake, ice papaya cold water
Popular food streets in Mengzi: Hongzhai Food Street, Wenlan Road
Xishuangbanna – Unique Ethnic Cuisine, plus Weird Foods
Influenced by its tropical rainforest climate and making full use of its abundant natural resources, Xishuangbanna's Dai, Bulang ethnic cuisine has its unique characteristics. The basic cooking methods include baking, frying, steaming, chopping and marinating, with few stir-fried dishes. The local foods features incense, spicy, bitter and sour flavors. The major food materials ranged from fresh fruits, bamboo shoots, tea leaves, edible wild herb to fish, chicken and beef.
In addition, there are many kinds of insects in Xishuangbanna. The weird insect foods are also an important part of local Dai cuisine.
Must-eat foods in Xishuangbanna: baked rice In pineapple, steamed meat in japanese banana leaf, mamboo-tubed-cooked rice, roasted chicken with citronella, grilled fish with citronella, cured beef, pebble fish soup, bitter bamboo shoots with Nanmi (a local seasoning), boiled chicken with sour bamboo shoots
Famous street food of Xishuangbanna: pounded chicken feet, baked suoluo (glutinous rice baba), fried bananas, sour ant egg, fried bamboo worm
Popular food streets in Xishuangbanna: Golden Beach (Jianshatan) night market
>> Check out the 20 Most Famous Foods in Yunnan China