I am a former French chef and I loooove food. That being said, what culinary delights can I eagerly anticipate in Kunming?
I am a former French chef and I loooove food. That being said, what culinary delights can I eagerly anticipate in Kunming?
Spicy this and spicy that covered in sewer oil.
lol wow sounds great
Well, maybe don't have to rely on my opinion. I have been here over 5 years and maybe you need somebody less jaded, but the sewer oil deal is pretty accurate here. "Digou you" it is called. Lifted up out of the sewer drains and then "recycled". Or just oil that is never changed by the cooks. And yea, everything tends to be covered in one spice: red pepper. That is it. Oh yea, or something called hua jiao, this numbing pepper. The idea of flavor here is either very spicy or unbelievably spicy. My wife and I were refused service once when we said we did not red pepper on the food. The cook said "it will taste good without it!" and simply refused to prepare the dish. Lot of confidence and his cooking ability.
But if you are a chef you can get stuff and cook yourself but it will hard to find stuff. Don't listen to people who tell you you can just go to Metro or Carrefoure and get what you need. Maybe you can and maybe you can't, and things like a little plastic bottle of mayonnaise can cost about $8 here. I wanted a ham sandwich a while back. Went twic in two weeks to Metro. No cooked ham. Only the local "spam ham". Okay, they had some other super expensive stuff but I was not into spending that much. Then went to Carrefoure by Nanpingjie and they had no cooked ham either. Something like Hormel at least. Again, local Chinese style luncheon meat only, which is horrible. The "International Food" section there had yellow mustard, some pork and beans and over priced salad dressings. That's about it. Some places International Food section consists of a food wide shelf of Korean noodles. Wow. There is a place called Paul's on wenhua xiang but it is a total rip off and they can't keep their refrigerator fixed after 5 years still. Money grubbing weasels there.
Anyway, I am just bitter as I did not get that damned ham! You may fare much better. Just proceed with caution when you read about people here raving over burgers or bread here. Best of luck with your adventures here ;)
Thanks Bill. I have had that numbing spice. I call them deathballs. Are you serious about cooking in oil from human sewers? I am not doubting you, but that semms quite extraordinary, like the whole population would die from it.
Bill, sewer oil is definitely a misunderstanding. "cooking in oil from human sewers" is definitely demonizing. I understand it would be hogwash oil from the eatery offal.
Oh man, my bad. That makes it totally more reasonable and edible. In fact there was a thread here by people who witnessed people fishing the oil from the underground drains. I am not demonizing anything since this is a practice my Chinese friends sadly admit is more common than laowai want to think about. KM is on the edge man. They just set free 500 some dogs here marked for meat consumption. The animal rights people, most Buddhist, were even maligned as criminals by forum commenters.
In any case, why can't cooks and restaurant owners just use fresh oil? The practice is actually illegal and yet they continue to do it and no one really gets busted on this stuff. Whether its gutter oil or reused animal fat and gut oil, it is nauseating and barabric. Anytime you get any food on the street it is best not to think about where the oil it is cooked in has been. Eat and hope the best.
There's load of great food: don't listen to the haters. Though there was some oil stuff in the news awhile back, you don't have to fear it in most places.
For starters, you can get a stupendous variety of vegetables (particularly mushrooms) done in many styles. For some ideas there check out vegetarian-china.info/ and pics on the facebook group.
Yunnan is famed for a few things, but mostly various types of rice noodles (cold, in soup, or fried), tofu dishes, the goat's cheese known as 'rubing', and Dai cuisine. Dai cuisine is Yunnan's Tai style cuisine, which can be roughly divided in to Dehong-style and Xishuangbanna-style, which are quite different. Both feature a lot of different types of bamboo as well as palm heart (banana flower).
A good place to eat a huge variety of cheap Yunnanese food is 'Kadilan', a two-floor restaurant opposite Mandarin Books on Wenhuaxiang.
Wow, Bill is jaaaaaaded!
Bill, if you want some ham, I recommend going to Metro, buying some bacon frying it and using that instead. Or some of the local salami type stuff which is really tasty. Sometimes we have to deal with not having exactly what we want here, but substitutes aren't usually hard to find. That is what happens when you are in a foreign country. If I try to find Yunnan food in my country, its pretty difficult (and I have looked).
The stinky barbecued tofu here is excellent too mmmm.... actually I like the barbecue places where you can cook lots of different things yourself, tofu, vegetables etc. There are some pretty good hotpot places around too, I particularly enjoy some of the frog ones (weird, but really tasty!).
Check out the bugs that they eat here too, haven't tried them yet but apparently very hao chi!
Just because a person has some criticism (just like Chinese people living in the US do of the food there) hardly makes them a "hater". I didn't know people still used that term actually. I am pretty sure I could find Yunnan food in the US, all I would need to do is locate the red pepper section and buy a 50 gallon barrel of it, and that should last me a week or less. Also to get that real Yunnan taste I would buy a gallon of cheap oil and use it over and over and over until it is a gooey black tar. I now now have the foundation for authentic Yunnan style food.
And as far as Dai food goes, it sucks. Dai food can better be described as dish after dish super spicy grass. The concept that every single dish at one of these Dai places can only be SPICY, SPICY, SPICY... covered in red spicy sauce and red peppers may be a sign of superb cooking to some people, but not to me. Yunnan people are just so wrapped in the "marvel" of their food culture here (basically noodle soup with spicy crap all in it) they can't even cook other styles of Chinese food, much less foreign food (not just western food, they trash Japanese, Korean and Thai food as well... and don't get me started on the so called Italian and Mexican food here, especially those foods served at the places managed by a foreigner. Those are the worst). There is a Guangdong (Yucai) place up by nanping Jie. Horrible. Bad food. Bad service. Could get good Cantonese food in Beijing no problem, but here they can't even cook other Chinese style foods. Go if you want and love it, but I have been to Guangzhou and that place would be run of of the city if it was operating there. Oh wait, et me be PC here...ooh ooh, probably in America people in NYC can't cook southern friend chicken the way they can in Alabama, so now everything is even Steven. No its not. Crap is crap, in NYC, Berlin, London, New Delhi or Kunming. And the world center for crappy food is Kunming!
And about getting what I want at Metro, in my first post on this thread I mention my difficulty of doing just that. I did not want bacon. here is a difference between bacon and ham the last time I shopped in a real supermarket and had a choice. My taste may not be as refined as the local people and their cravings for huojiao and lajiao on one knid of bland noodle, but I do not just eat bacon. I wanted sandwich ham. Cooked ham. Ham. Ham. Ham, not spam spam spam spam. I have bought cooked sandwich ham there before. Over a three week period I went there twice and to the Carrefoure at Nanping Jie once. Not a single package of decent, edible ham. NOT ONE! Modern super stores my rear end! Oh yea, they have all sorts of weird Chinese meat rolls and their luncheon meat products, which all collectively amount to crud and I can get all of that at the local convenient store, along with those ghastly little "hot dogs" in the red wrapping. Oh, yummy! Out of desperation (because I had two girls on either side of me bellowing specials into a little speaker attached to their waist at the volume of a Deep Purple concert) I did buy a package of Chinese sandwich ham whose packaging mimicked the Hormel brand. I did not expect it taste 100% like Hormel, but I did expect after two bites I would give the whole package to my dog either. I got some sliced Cheese at Carrefoure. I did not want to pay like $8 for the Kraft brand so I got the cheaper Chinese product thinking that they can't screw up cheese slices, right? WRONG! The dog had some cheese to go with his "ham".
"Western ham" is not that processed stuff they sell in the spam cans here with the little twist key. HELLLOOOOO! The last time I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich at a restaurant on Yunda campus I asked the guy if it was that crappy Chinese spam stuff "oh no, it is western ham!" I paid 29 RMB (about $5) for the sandwich (only a sandwich, no fries or even cucumbery side salad) and I'll be damned if I did not get that Chinese spam. I now understand that these places and cooks (if you can really cal them that) really think that canned Chinese spam is western ham. They really think this. They do not know what Black Forest Ham of Glazed Honey Ham is. Never seen it. In fact they also think that Chinese spam is Italian Sausage and even Yunnan bacon, since I have ordered all these things and gotten spam.
And yea, a salad is not a few slices of green lettuce over top a bunch of cucumbers! Please tell all the places on wenhua xiang this you non-haters as I am too riled up to communicate civilly.
About not finding "real" finding Chinese food in the US: bunk. I could go to any supermarket in Seattle I will have no difficulty finding Chinese food and spices. Probably can't find any dog meat, but will just have to settle I guess, like people tell me I have to do here. They have an International District (they are so PC there they can't say Chinatown) where you can get all the stuff you see here, only fresher. You can even get pig snouts and ducks with the head still on them. Now that is real Chinese cuisine my friends. The markets there had row ofter row after row (not a shelf or two) of food from all over the world at reasonable prices. Why can't the world's number two economy have cooked sandwich ham in its big mega stores all of the time!!!! Because the people here (and in Yunnan in particular) are xenophobic and can't conceive of eating anything other than the same things they have eaten all of their lives three times a day. And that is rice noodles, rice noodles, rice noodles. Gadzooks. Anybody who thinks this stuff is wonderful has not had a good cheeseburger in way too long.
If you're here for travel okay. Fine. Try this and that. Try that godawful guoquiaomian (cross the bridge noodles) so you can say you tried some local cuisine back home. But I have lived in China for 7 years and 5 of that has been in Kunming and about 3 in Beijing. I have earned the right to say the food here sucks. I have nearly been killed by it okay, or spent a work night on the toilet because of it. And the food tatse is not the only issue. The service is slow and rude and you can't get diddly at these stupid ass Metro type places. Okay... maybe you can. Maybe. Or you might get there when the ham, or the bacon or whatever, is meiyou le. So you go back a week later and guess what ..."hai meiyou". what kind of BS is that and how can anybody defend it. My wife is Chinese from Jiangsu and her opinion is more brutal than mine. Oh but then I should be a compassionate laowai and understand the local culture and learn to eat spicy noodles all the time and stop whining. But even then I can't get the noodles the way I like it. My Chinese is not that bad. The "cooks" here just do not believe in letting the customer having their food their way. They know what I want more than I do. And that is: spicy and greasy grass or noodles, or pig fat (not meat).
There are lots of people here who will tell the new person about the culinary wonders of Yunnan and KM. I am here you tell you the facts: old and stale food, all spicy, spicy, spicy, cooked in dirty greasy oil and covered in MSG. Can't even get a decent bowl of white rice here. Always cold and hard. Rice in the east of China is totally different, not because of the rice but because of the people cooking it. Maybe some people here like burgers made with weird green and brown filler weird Yunnan herbs that when put all together taste sort of like cow dung (not that I have eaten actual cow dung, but I am not sure what that was at The Prague or Camel Bar I ate that emptied my wallet both times and that I left unfinished on my plate, could have been cow dung for all I know). If you like it, great, manman chi, but I am not driven by some sense of PC guilt that says I can't say crap doesn't taste like crap and that Metro and Carrefoure here are sub-par compared to the same type of stores in Beijing. I could get all the things I wanted at the Chinese Yi ChuLian Hua supermarket in Beijing. A Chinese chain. Not from France of the US. I could get Doritos there!
What about here? The Walmart superstore near my place has rows of: chicken feet, pickled spicy doufu, rice crackers, blah blah blah, but no ham or decent sliced cheese. The foreign food food shelf is about a foot wide and has some Korean instant noodles and some Thai candy. WOW! There is no where I can walk to (even an hour walk away) that would have butter or margarine, or mayonnaise, or good peanut butter or some sort of decent bread, or yellow mustard or on and on and on. For one reason, you discover, all of those things are "bad for your health", but food cooked in gutter oil with a ton of MSG poured into it and little pig guts floating around inside it seems to be good for your health. But if I need any variety of a thousand different types of spicy chicken feet or packages of spicy pickeled "something" I am good to go. And that is a fact! Not some "hater" rant. My bitterness has been pressed upon me by my environment. I was not born this way friends.
New people, heed my words! I am a voice crying in the wilderness, but I bring you the truth. Learn now you will never have good ham again (okay, maybe if Metro has it in stock and you have that little card to pay for it with) or any other cookie than an Oreo as long as you in Kunming, and learn to like the greatest food ever given to mankind: spicy ass rice noodles (followed by the other greatest culinary delights ever to touch a palette, spicy ass doufu and spicy ass undercooked potatoes).