Mijiang Baba (rice milk pancake)
Mijiang Baba has always been at the top of the breakfast menu for Kunming locals. It is made from mijiang, which is fermented rice milk, and egg. The mijiang is made by soaking clean rice for hours, then beating the soaked rice into rice milk, adding yeast and letting it ferment. The tricky part is how long to soak and ferment the rice for, which will directly affect the taste, softness and fluffiness of the dish.
In the very first bite, you will enjoy the sweet yet slightly acidic taste of the fermented rice milk, as well as the subtle flavors from the egg and fat used, together with the chewy sponginess of the pancake. If you are lucky, the one you try may have a golden crispy "shell".
Mijiang baba is a great breakfast choice; you can find it on main roads and in small alleys alike, downstairs from your office, or round the corner from school. You can buy one to takeaway within one minute, and it is extremely quick to make if you want it freshly cooked.
(Photos are taken in Miqi Xiang, address: Guanghua Jie, on the east side of Yunnan hospital of traditional Chinese Medicine)
Shao Er Kuai
Shao Erkuai is another option from the top of the Kunming breakfast menu which shouldn't be missed. Erkuai is one of the "Eighteen Specialties of Yunnan", a type of rice dough particular to the Yunnan province. It is made from rice, which has been washed, soaked, steamed, mashed, then finally kneaded into a rice dough.
Shao erkuai means grilled erkuai, which is then spread with different kinds of pastes, such as fermented bean curd, tahini, chilli paste, or peanut butter. You can choose what you want your erkuai to be rolled with: deep-fried dough stick, sausage, fried egg, or even fried potato shreds and Yunnan pickles. For the paste and filling, you can choose just one kind, or combine them all if you are feeling brave enough to try some mixed flavors!
You will find mobile vendors making and selling shao erkuai from their tricycles by the roadside, or small shao erkuai stands on the corners and in the alleys of almost every street in Kunming.
Soybean Milk With Deep-Fried Dough Stick
It goes without saying that bread and butter are a great pair. In the same way, soybean milk and deep-fried dough sticks make excellent companions.
The way Kunming locals enjoy this dish is by soaking the deep-fried dough stick into the hot soybean milk, and letting the stick soak up the soybean milk for a few seconds, so it becomes softer and juicier inside, yet still crispy on the outside. You can put a teaspoon of sugar into the soybean milk if you have a sweet tooth, to make the dish even more delicious.
(Photos are taken in Xiaolong Doujiang Youtiao Restaurant, address: Xiaolong Sifang Jie, Panlong District)
Xiaoguo Mixian (small pot rice noodle)
There are many different kinds of rice noodle dishes to be found in Kunming, yet Small Pot Rice Noodles are the most commonly enjoyed by Kunming locals, especially for a quick and hearty breakfast.
So why the name "small pot"? It's because each portion of noodles is cooked separately in a small copper pan with a long handle. Fresh minced pork, Yunnan pickles, leek, soy sauce, and Zhaotong paste (the most popular and delicious paste in Yunnan area) or thick broad-bean sauce with chilli are put into each pot to awaken the soul of the dish.
(Photos are taken in Jianxin Yuan, address: Jinma Biji Square)
One of the most popular restaurants for beef noodles for breakfast in Kunming is from Yulin, a tiny down to earth restaurant near Dian Lake.
Here, the noodles are freshly cooked in a huge boiler, while a strongly-flavored beef broth has already been cooked for hours. After the beef broth is added to the noodles, you can add minced garlic, chopped green onion, chopped leek, chili oil and Yunnan pickles yourself. What is more, you can pay extra for some truly authentic additions such as pig blood pudding, pork intestines, and stewed pig skin.
This little restaurant is so popular that people who live on the other side of Kunming will drive here at the weekend just to enjoy a bowl of these lip-smacking noodles.
(Photos are taken in Yulin Xiaochi, address: opposite the Prosecutor's College, Tianzeyuan Residence, Xishan district)