Friday, January 30, 2015

Yunnan Food - Dali and Kunming

I arrived in Dali on a Sunday morning. Muslim food stalls were lined up at Renmin Street near the local mosque. On the second day (Monday), there were none. Muslim men and women were a common sight in Dali.

A Muslim stall selling pastries and sweets at the west end of Renmin Street
Beef rib rice noodle soup was my first meal in Dali. I had tasted a few rice noodle soups in Lijiang and Lugu Lake. There wasn't anything special about this dish even though it was more expensive. I was beginning to get tired of rice noodle soup now.

The beef rib noodle restaurant, Dali at Yangrenjie (Foreigner's Street)

The menu

Beef rib rice noodle soup. Rating = 5/10
While looking for dinner on my first night in Dali, I came across a picture of Mei Cai Kou Rou on the advertisement board outside this restaurant. It was a dish that I could not miss. Though it was a little dry, nevertheless, with its sweet and savory taste, I really loved this dish. I had it again for dinner at another restaurant the following night. For both restaurants, I gave it 8/10.

The Mei Cai Kou Rou restaurant. The advertisement board was in red on the left of the restaurant

Mei Cai Kou Rou. Rating 8/10

Mei Cai Kou Rou at another restaurant. It was prepared slightly sweeter. Rating 8/10

As I strolled along Fuxing Street to South Gate in Dali, I saw a few food stalls on the way but I did not try the snacks there.

The street food stalls at Fuxing Street, Dali

 The snacks on display at the stalls

The usual breakfast food in Dali was similar to Lijiang. I had Baozi, which was again average.

The Baozi shop

Inside the Baozi shop

Baozi (steamed buns). Rating = 5/10
For lunch on the second day in Dali, I picked a spicy looking dish. It was similar to the spicy dish I had in Lijiang. It consisted of pieces of bony chicken with hardly any meat.

The restaurant

Spicy bony chicken. Rating = 6/10

At Kunming, I saw this tofu been grilled over some charcoal at a hawker stall. It looked good but I was unsure whether it was going to give me Delhi Belly. In the end, I decided that I had to try it. It was not bad and it was safe to eat.

This little eatery did not have running water ...

I would not normally take food from such an unhygienic eatery but because the tofu was grilled, I decided to take a bet to see whether I was going to get Delhi Belly. I won.

Grilled tofu. Rating = 6/10

While walking around Kunming looking for dinner, I saw this shop. It had Jiaozi (dumpling) and Xiao Long Bao (soup steamed buns). I had to try them.

The Jiaozi and Xiao Long Bao shop

Inside the shop

Jiaozi. Rating = 6/10

Xiao Long Bao. Rating = 6/10
While exploring Kunming, I noticed a few stalls selling street food scattered around the city. They were selling similar breakfast food. I was not sure what they were called. Was it Er Kuai?

Is this Er Kuai? A thin piece of fried flat bread spread with some spicy sauce was used to wrap the You Tiao (fried bread stick), fish nugget or hot dog, etc. Rating = 5/10

Another stall selling similar breakfast food

Another Er Kuai? This has egg. Rating = 6/10
I finally gave up on Yunnan local food. The same stuff was offered at every restaurant. I was so tired of the noodle soup that I went for KFC and McDonald in Kunming. Unfortunately, the KFC and McDonald were not as good as the Malaysian versions.

The crust was too thin


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Yunnan Food - Lugu Lake and Lijiang

On arriving at Lugu Lake, we were famished. We had skipped lunch. The dentist seemed to be very hungry and was prepared to gobble up a whole suckling pig. Anyway, we stopped her. We had a proper meal/ bbq dinner in the open air prepared by another restaurant.

An Ming with her antics

Preparing the charcoal burner for our bbq at Lige, Lugu Lake

Pork. Rating = 5/10

Homemade wine (according to Doctor, she managed to sweet-talk a free jug out from the restaurant). Rating = 5/10

From left: Dr. An Ming (from Nanjing, works as a dentist), Bruce (from Beijing, works for CCTV), Joshua (from Shenzhen), Hagrid (from Shanghai, just graduated from law school). They were all solo backpackers and met Bruce at different times in Dali and Lijiang, who pulled them together to travel in his hired car to share cost. Rating for the companions = 10/10

Pork for barbecue. Rating = 5/10

Liangpi is a cold dish - savory, sour and spicy. Rating = 3/10

Fish. Rating = 5/10

This dentist has nothing better to do than to tease me with the brinjal/ egg plant. Rating for the brinjal = 6/10. Rating for the dentist = 10/10

Chicken. Rating = 5/10

Brinjal/ egg plant. Rating = 6/10

Overall rating for the dinner = 5/10
On the following morning, after coming back from watching the sun rose, we had breakfast at a restaurant. We had rice noodle soup.

The restaurant where we had our breakfast in Lige, Lugu Lake

The menu

The noodle soup came in a jug

The noodle soup. Rating = 4/10
At Lugu Lake, Bruce drove us to Luoshui where we would drop off Joshua. He would be trekking at Lugu Lake while we would be exploring the region around the lake in a car. We came to Zouhun (Walking Marriage) Bridge, where we had lunch. The dentist did not want to take lunch (for fear of the consequence of getting travel sickness later)

We had lunch at the blue-roof restaurant at Caohai/ Zouhun Bridge (Sea of Grass/ Walking Marriage Bridge)

Inside the restaurant

The four dishes were all greens, and surprisingly, they were excellent. Rating = 8/10
On returning to Tina's Guesthouse after visiting the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, I had fried ham rice. It was quite good.

Tina's Guesthouse restaurant

Fried Ham Rice. Rating = 7/10
As mentioned earlier, the breakfast food choices in Lijiang were limited. The breakfast food sold from this street cart was more or less universal in Lijiang.

Typical breakfast food in Lijiang
One of the most famous local Yunnan food is Guò Qiáo Mǐ Xiàn (Cross-the-Bridge Rice Noodle). I had one on my way back to Dayan from Black Dragon Pool (Heilongtan). Different sets of ingredients were sold, with different prices, from tens to hundreds of Yuan. Again, this was a rice noodle soup.

The Guò Qiáo Mǐ Xiàn (Cross-the-Bridge Rice Noodle) restaurant

The set ingredient that I ordered. The egg and the meat must be cooked first

Cross-the-Bridge Rice Noodle Soup. Rating = 5/10
Hagrid loved sashimi. He had heard of Bell Restaurant from others and went in search of it. We found the restaurant but the sashimi was very expensive for a whole fish. He just wanted a single portion for himself but the restaurant did not serve single portion. I don't take sashimi. In the end, he skipped the sashimi and ordered Qì Guō Jī (Steam Pot Chicken, another famous local Yunnan dish) and two other vegetable dishes. I did not know that vegetable dishes could be this good.

Hagrid making the orders at Bell Restaurant, Lijiang

Snacks before our main meals

Brinjals/ egg plants with the skin removed. Rating = 8/10

Cabbage. Rating = 8/10

Steam Pot Chicken (Qì Guō Jī). I took this photo after a few pieces of bony chicken had been eaten. Rating = 6/10