This post is one of several posts about my trip to Yunnan Province. You can read "Two Days in Kunming Yunnan China" first for an overview. Other Yunnan posts include Yunnan (Poisonous Mushroom Hot Pot), Xishuangbanna Dai Culture & Cuisine, Xishuangbanna Gaozhuang Night Market, and Foreigners Navigating Post-Pandemic Travel in China.
Green Park in Kunming is a beautiful park and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Right next to Green Park, we had a fantastic dinner of modern Yunnan food at Aozao Guan 凹糟館. This restaurant showcased the bounty of Yunnan's produce, but with their own modern twist to the dishes. I loved the food. I don't even know if I can describe these dishes accurately enough to do them justice, but I'll try my best.
One of my favorite dishes (and the most memorable one to me) was this chili candied bean dish. It may not look like much, but it was strangely addictive. Each bite was savory, sweet, spicy, crunchy, candied . . . and I couldn't stop eating it! The beans reminded me a bit of certain crispy (slightly sweet) beef dishes you might get in Chinese restaurants, but made with beans instead.
Stir fried thick and chewy noodles!
This purple mashed potato is their signature dish and it is FANTASTIC.
Mustard green stems.
This dish reminded me of Hong Kong's typhoon shelter crab, which is buried in fried garlic and chilis.
Chicken, onions, and spicy chili peppers!
I can't remember exactly what this was, but it was a local vegetable that I am not very familiar with . . .
This doesn't look like much, but I was insanely impressed with the dressing on this salad of raw chrysanthemum greens. It was sooo good. It was beautiful balanced: a bit sweet, spicy, umami, etc. I just remember wishing I could replicate this salad at home.
Dessert! Deep fried mochi balls with a sweet and sticky filling.
All in all, I loved the restaurant. The food was different enough from other types of Chinese cuisine that I still found it "exotic". Yet, at the same times the flavors were often familiar, and more importantly, delicious and deeply satisfying. (perhaps I was also hungry?) I loved how the restaurant showcased the local produce in the various dishes.
The place was PACKED with locals, and we had a hard to ordering many dishes because they were already sold out. Perhaps the holiday week had something to do with it. Still, even though we couldn't order a lot of what we had originally wanted, the food that we got was still excellent. Honestly, I'd go back in a heartbeat if I were to return to Kunming again.
Aozao Guan Restaurant
No. A11, 3rd Floor, Building Yicui Xuan,
Area 5, Cuihu South Road,
Wuhua District, Kunming City