Yunnan Kitchen

With a fussy 21 month old, you don’t get the luxury of long dinners, but that doesn’t make the food any less good.  Yunnan Kitchen is a relatively new trendy Chinese spot in the LES that has proven tough to get into during prime dining time.  The New York Times quickly learned of it’s growing popularity and reviewed it, giving one star to it’s “farmers’ market approach” to Chinese.

I must admit, this is not like any Chinese I’ve ever had.  Perhaps that’s because the Yunnan Province of China, which borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, pulls flavors from it’s neighboring regions.  Whatever the reason, the pickled green papaya salad with warm chicken was crunchy, tart, and spicy – unlike anything I’ve ever been served in a Chinese restaurant.  We also tried the mushroom rice cakes (I love those gummy rice cakes but make sure you really like mushrooms – like I do – before ordering this) and the Chinese sausage fried rice (perfect sliced sausage with greens that made this different from typical fried rice) – both winners.  I was not a fan of the pork ribs, which were dry and didn’t have any sort of sauce that would have allowed all the herbs to adhere to them.  That misstep was redeemed by a chicken dish (a special, I believe) that had the most unique spice I’ve ever had.  It didn’t last like a hot pepper, nor did it clear out your sinuses like wasabi.  Instead, it made my entire tongue tingle.  I couldn’t quite place it, but that “whatsit” is what will make Yunnan Kitchen stick out in my mind as a Chinese destination in NYC.

Chinese sausage fried rice
Papaya Salad