Rice noodles are the staple food in Kunming, and you can find one of the many different varieties to try at restaurant and street food stands all over the city.
Cross-Bridge Rice Noodle
Cross-Bridge Rice Noodle (过桥米线) is one of the most well-known rice noodles dishes in Yunnan cuisine. It is the first thing that every tourist who comes to Kunming should try. The dish is served as a large bowl of hot soup, and all other ingredients are presented separately. The most common ingredients are raw quail eggs, thin slices of raw pork, pieces of chicken and rice noodles. Once added to the soup, these ingredients cook quickly because of a layer of goose oil on the top which preserves the heat. Adding flowers to dishes is a special feature of Yunnan cuisine. Traditional Cross-Bridge Rice Noodle often features edible chrysanthemums, making it taste even more delicious.
Rice Noodle in a Small Pot
Xiaoguomixian (小锅米线) literally means rice noodles cooked in a small pot and is a popular staple dish among Kunmingers. Soft, white rice noodles, cooked with minced pork, Chinese leek, and locally produced pickled vegetable, warm the hearts of locals and visitors alike from the very first bite. Those who have lived in Kunming a long time call this simple dish "the taste of Kunming".
What makes it so special then? Well, first, the rice noodle and other ingredients have to be cooked in a small copper pot, which has a long handle to prevent the cook getting burnt by the pot. Each of these small pots can only make one bowl of Xiaoguomixian each time.
Boiled Rice Noodle with topping
In Kunming, the most common serving style is boiled rice noodle (煮米线). The boiled rice noodles and broth are definitely the best choice for breakfast, and diners add their own toppings. There are many choices of topping, such as chicken, pork, beef, lamb, or mixed sauce (杂酱).
Mixed sauce is made from Zhaotong Sauce (昭通酱), sweet sauce, bean paste, chilli sauce, tahini, peanut butter and other secret ingredients. Stir fry pork mince and peanut with mixed sauce offers a delicious topping for rice noodles.
Douhua Mixian (Rice Noodle with Bean Curd)
Douhua Mixian (or rice noodle with bean curd) (豆花米线) has long been one of the well-recognized local snacks in Kunming. Its ingredients include boiled rice noodles, two spoonful of soft bean curd, tasty pork chili sauce, chopped Chinese chives, dried preserved cabbage, a pinch of salt and some sweet soy sauce. By adding chilli sauce, bean curd and sweet soy sauce, one can get a flavor which is spicy or mild.
Fried rice noodles (炒米线) with mince, sweet soy sauce, salty soy sauce, chives, peppers, cabbage and other ingredients. The bright red colour as they come out the pot is sure to awaken your hunger!
Cold Rice Noodles
Cold rice noodles (凉米线) are one of the most popular dishes in Kunming, and this is the best dish to cool off on a hot day. Sliced vegetables, crushed peanuts, and chives are the highlight of cold rice noodles, and their sweet and sour flavour comes from the sweet soy sauce and vinegar dressing.
Guanguan Rice Noodles
Guanguan (罐罐) in Chinese means small earthenware jar. Rice noodles are placed in the jar, then broth, mint, stinky tofu and picked vegetables are added. The jar is put on a rack over a low heat, and before it is ready, a spoon of meat sauce is added, with the rich and fragrant smell arousing people's appetite. Based on this guanguan rice noodle cooking method, there are also a wider range of guanguan dishes such as guanguan seaweed and guanguan potatoes, and all are common street foods in Kunming.
Casserole Rice Noodles
Casserole rice noodles (砂锅米线) are very simple to make, as you simply need to put all the ingredients into a casserole then add stock to cook. The taste is light and delicious, and they are suitable for everyone to try!