You’re wandering around Kunming, looking at all the fancy and not-so-fancy looking restaurants, wondering where you should eat. Truth be told, there’s no way you can die of starvation in Kunming - there are at least five restaurants at every corner. The problem is rather how to choose among all of them. Trial and error? But you’re only around for a few days, no time for that. You want something that’s certainly good, something special, something on your taste, maybe something local. No problem, it’s all covered. You can find the best restaurants in the city here.
1. Lotus Park (liánhuā chí chī diǎn)
This all you can eat vegetarian buffet is placed in a wonderful location know in English under the name of Lotus Park. Lotus Park (liánhuā chí), although not as popular as Green Park, is a very calm and relaxing part of the city. The restaurant has an outdoor area right by the lake. Since it is linked to a Buddhist temple, they keep their prices very low, even offering free lunch or dinner on certain Buddhist holidays. They generally serve a wide selection of stir-fried vegetables, soups, tofu, noodles and rice. They are open for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 7 p.m.
莲花池吃点 (Liánhuā chí chī diǎn)
Address: To southwest of the crossing of Minyuan Rd. and Xuefu Rd.
2. JianXinYuan (jiànxīn yuán)
The most popular food in Kunming is called “cross bridge rice noodles” (过桥米线 - guò qiáo mǐ xiàn ). It’s not so much because of how tasty the food is, but rather because of the love story that comes with it. The legend says that a woman had to cross a long bridge in order to take food for her husband. Since the soup would get cold on the way, she thought of separating the hot water from the rest of the ingredients and only mixing them up once she arrived there. Try to have a local tell you the full story - there’s also a reason why the husband was isolated. In any case, if you want to try the local specialty, JianXinYuan restaurant is the best place for that. Since it’s a chain, there are more of them around the city.
建新园 (jiànxīn yuán)
Address 1: No.195 Baoshan Street, Wuhua District, Kunming 650021, China
Address 2: PanLongQu HuanCheng DongLu 208Hao, Kunming, China
3. Hóng Dòu Yuán
Located in one of the busiest streets of the city (Wen Lin Jie), this restaurant is a good stop after sight seeing and walking around. It’s also a favorite spot for locals. They have a large variety of options on their menu, most of it Yunnan specialties. The service is prompt and the staff very friendly. There might be a small language barrier if you don’t speak any Chinese, but either way it’s worth to try.
Hong Dou Yuan
Address: 144 Wenlin St, Wuhua Qu, Kunming Shi, Yunnan Sheng, China, 650031
4. Salvador's Coffee House
Salvador’s is the place to go if you’re craving Western or international food with a Mexican touch. This is the preferred place for ex-pats and travelers, so if you want to meet new people, head to Salvador’s. It’s also a good place to have a coffee while browsing for your next destination (they have good WiFi). It’s not called a Coffee House for nothing.
Salvador's Coffee House
Address: Wenlin Jie, Wenhua Xiang 76, Kunming 650031, China
Website: Salvador’s Coffee House
5. Yíng Jiāng Dǎi Wèi Yuán
One of the famous ethnic minorities in Yunnan is Dai ethnic group. Their food is a combination of Chinese and Thai style of cooking. Most Dai people live south of Yunnan province, but no worries, you can try their tasty specialties in Kunming as well. A good place for doing that is Yíng Jiāng Dǎi Wèi Yuán, located very close to Green lake. Be careful, though: most Dai dishes are spicy, so make sure to ask before if you can’t take spicy food.
盈江傣味园 (Yíng Jiāng Dǎi Wèi Yuán)
Address: Cuihu Xiansheng Pokou, Wuhua District, Kunming, China
6. Yì kēyìn kūnmíng lǎo fángzi
This restaurant is a special one not only because of the high quality of the food they serve, but also because of its location. The building itself is a traditional old style courtyard, transporting you into medieval Chinese times. They serve mostly traditional food from Yunnan.The old Chinese style ambiance coupled with the lively atmosphere make this restaurant a wonderful place for both lunch and dinner.
一颗印昆明老房子(yì kēyìn kūnmíng lǎo fángzi)
Address: 18-19 Jixiang Xiang, Dongfeng Xi Lu, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China
7. Heavenly Manna
Very easy to find, right next to Salvador’s, this is a small restaurant with wonderful food. There are many vegetarian options on the menu, the staff is very friendly and kind. They mostly serve Yunnan specialties and they also have an English menu, making it easier if you can’t speak Chinese. You can also try the local Yunnan goat cheese.
Address: Wenlin Jie, 74 Wenhua Xiang (near Culture Alley), Kunming, Yunnan Province, China
8. Wèi téng sìhǎi
This restaurant is very central (right next to Green Lake), making it a bit more expensive than the usual Chinese restaurant. But if you’re travelling during winter, it’s the perfect place to stop as they’re most famous for their wide choice of hot pot. No matter if you’re a vegetarian or love to eat meat, hot pot is a good choice, especially on a chilly day.
味腾四海 (wèi téng sìhǎi)
Address: 12 Cuihu Bei Lu, Kunming, Yunnan province, China
Indulge in food while travelling in Yunnan
With its wide variety of food, Yunnan offers the opportunity of discovering the local culture and the countless ethnic minorities through food. Don’t be afraid to try them all!
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