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6 Yunnan street food you must try

You have heard of Chinese food, seen it at the corner of the street or even tried it somewhere. However, there is not just one type of Chinese food. Every province has its own specialities and the taste is also wildly different within the same province. While Yunnan is not famously known for its food, it still has a decent variety of great eats that you cannot resist. Here are six Yunnan street food you must try the next time you visit this province:

1. Over-the-bridge Rice Noodles

Playing a little cheat here as this is more of a sit-in and dine type of food, it is nonetheless very representative of Yunnan cuisine. The Over-the-bridge Rice Noodles (过桥米线 or Guoqiao Mixian) is a locals’ favourite and you can find it all over Yunnan.

VIew of the sumptuous spread that comes with an Over-the Bridge Rice Noodles.

You are first served a bowl of piping hot soup, then a plate of raw meats, vegetables and finally a bowl of rice noodles. Throw your meats into the soup to cook it, then your vegetables and finally the rice noodles. The broth is fragrant and flavourful, yet it is not too rich. What you are drinking here is the essence of pork ribs, whole chickens and Yunnan ham brewed for hours over slow fire.

 

Must-eat rating: 5/5

Comment: Simply too delicious! The Over-the-bridge Rice Noodles is especially apt during a cold day as the hot broth warms your stomach really well. I love how tasty the broth is, and how the locals slurp it right from the bowl. You have to try this at least once during your stay here in Yunnan.

2. Cheese Fan

A street snack made from deep-frying milk fat and sweetening it with a layer of jam.

The Cheese Fan (乳扇 or Rushan) is a Bai ethnic minority’s snack. You can find it everywhere in places where the Bai community lives, such as in Dali ancient city. It is made from milk by skimming the fat and deep-frying it. It is then topped with freshly made jam or sweet milk.

 

Must-eat rating: 3.5/5

Comment: Not everyone is a cheese-lover (me included), but it is still worth a try! Hardly do you find Asian cheese, so this is definitely an interesting find. I like how the jam creates a sweet layer over the savoury snack, giving it a unique taste.

3. Bamboo Sticky Rice

This is sticky brown rice steamed in a bamboo section and is a tasty, healthy and simple street food dish.

The Bamboo Sticky Rice (竹筒饭 or Zhutong Fan) is a Dai ethnic minority speciality. Made from brown rice, the rice is steamed in a bamboo section and served by splitting the bamboo open in half. The rice smells really fragrant and has a tinge of sweetness. You cannot imagine how rice can taste so great!

 

Must-eat rating: 4/5

Comment: This bamboo sticky rice makes a great snack. You can enhance the flavour by putting a little bit of sugar on each piece you pull out. It is a simple, healthy yet tasty street food that you can easily take with you on your travels.

4. Shiping Tofu

This is a bowl of fried tofu from Shiping county in Yunnan province. it is fried with vegetables, herbs and chilies.

Shiping Tofu (石屏豆腐) is a soybean dish that originates from Shiping as its name suggests. It is pan-fried with chilies and spices, as well as some vegetables and herbs. The tofu is silky soft on the inside, and crispy on the outside. The herbs and chilies add a kick to every bite, creating a spicy, fragrant and savoury experience all at the same time.

 

Must-eat rating: 5/5

Comment: Tofu is always nice to eat, but the best tofus are the ones where the texture is really smooth and soft. Shiping is famous for its tofu and it is no surprise that a tofu dish from Shiping hits all the right notes! You can always ask them to add less chilies if you cannot stomach the spiciness.

5. Fried Rice Cakes

The fried rice cakes are soft on the inside yet crispy on the outside. This bowl of fried rice cakes (炒年糕 or Chao Niangao) is served with sliced potatoes.

Fried Rice Cakes (炒年糕 or Chao Niangao) is a Naxi ethnic minority’s forte. You can find them everywhere in Lijiang city or in Shaxi ancient town. The rice cakes are fried until the outside is crispy while the inside is still soft. It is then coated with various powdered spices and served. The rice cakes themselves are sweet, while the spices add a savoury and spicy aftertaste to the dish.

 

Must-eat rating: 5/5

Comment: Writing this description makes me hungry! I really enjoyed this little snack, which you can add variety by mixing it with sliced potatoes. I like how the various tastes are well balanced. It is not too sweet, neither is it too spicy nor salty. Also, good rice cakes are hard to make. The ones that the Naxi ethnic minority makes is soft and chewy on the inside, yet super crispy on the outside!

6. Steamed Spring Rolls

This plate of Steamed Spring Rolls tastes very refreshing and is full of vegetables.

The Steamed Spring Rolls (卷粉 or Juanfen) is an explosion of various tastes and textures. The skin is made from rice and the fillings consists of a variety of vegetables such as cabbage, radish, carrots and onions. Crushed peanuts are sprinkled over the mixture for an added crunch. Finally, a layer of chili gives the entire snack a nice aftertaste.

A Naxi ethnic minority making steamed spring rolls or Juanfen (卷粉).

Must-eat rating: 4/5

Comment: I thoroughly enjoyed the steamed spring roll as it is simple, yet tasty. The crushed peanuts give the entire snack an addictive taste, encouraging you to want to eat more. However, it can be a little too soft at times, making it hard to eat while on the go. Also, I naturally would compare it to the Vietnamese counterpart, and the Vietnamese spring rolls are hard to beat!

 

These six Yunnan street food are pretty much very common and are definitely worth a try! Next time you explore Yunnan, do keep a look out for the street stall selling these snacks. For just ¥5, or a little less than a dollar (except for the Over-the-bridge Rice Noodles), you can pretty much have a huge bowl or piece of the snack. Eat away!

Do you feel hungry now? Share this with your friends so more people are aware of these amazing street foods! Also, drop a comment if you have any other recommendations.

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