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Yun Nans - 1st Jan 2020


What is the first thing that comes to your mind when one says, “Yunnan cuisine”?

For me, it is their signature “guoqiao mixian”, also known as “cross-bridge rice noodles”.

After many years, I finally got to taste it once again, this time in Singapore, at Yun Nans – the first overseas outpost of Yun Hai Yao. Hailing from China, Yun Hai Yao is the largest casual restaurant chain specializing in ethnic highland cuisines from Yun Nan, China.



As there was a total of nine at the table this time, we had the luxury of ordering many dishes for sharing.

First up was the Beef Rolls with Peppermint – boiled beef shank meat cut and rolled with a stalk of peppermint as one can pretty much guess from its rather straightforward name. The peppermint complimented the spicy dressing, and I find it suitable as a starter as it did not come on strong and yet got my taste buds rearing for the next flavour profile.

The dish that immediately followed was their Stir-fried Chayote Leaves with Garlic. Andre finds it unique, sweet and not oily. I also find it a good balance of flavours from the garlic and chillies, with a hint of red capsicum which I detected before spotting the capsicum itself.

  

Next in line was Yun Nans’ signature dish, Steam Pot Chicken Soup with Matsutake Mushroom. The chicken soup and chicken meat were served separately, with the chicken meat served with an additional spicy mala soy sauce dressing.

And this dish was, simply, outstanding. The soup was boiled, in a special ceramic pot, perfectly to remain clear and had a good flavour without having the gelatin from the bones. It was light and sweet, and had a very natural flavour to it.

My colleague really loved this dish as she finds it not overwhelming or savoury like some other broths she used to have at other places, which makes one feel like downing glasses of water after drinking it. “This is definitely one dish that I will order when I visit them again,” she exclaimed.

I recommend that one drinks this chicken soup before eating anything else, especially dishes with strong flavours such as the Signature Cross-bridge Rice Noodle or the Beef Stew in Copper Pot. The flavours were that delicate.

   

Fans of hot pots and mala spiciness, the Beef Stew in Copper Pot might be the one right up your alley. It was too spicy for me. But it still tasted great. If you still want some mala spiciness, you could also go for their Spiced Beef Shank. The beef shank meat here was served in thicker pieces and the sauce was drizzled over with a similar spicy dressing as the beef rolls. Initially savoury, the spiciness gradually kicked in. As to how spicy it was, I would say that it was an acceptable challenge for me. Eat with caution though, as everyone has different thresholds for spiciness, though you should be able to gauge mine after you tried their dishes once.

   

The Signature Cross-bridge Rice Noodle –the best-known dish of Yunnan cuisine– is my favourite from the menu here. I had the same dish when I visited Yunnan and I found it too oily, albeit delicious, for my liking back then. But here at Yun Nans, the broth was very rich and flavourful and was not too oily. This dish was so good that it also ranks top for my other colleague.

And this same colleague of mine also gave the Steamed Red Grouper with Green Peppercorns the thumbs up. She finds the sauce very tasty and she likes that it did not have a fishy smell. Indeed, the fish was fresh and the meat was firm. The sauce was also not overly spicy unless you bite into the peppercorns.

   

Last but not least, we also had the Braised Wheat Pumpkin with Ham. The wheat pumpkin was soft and soaked up the delicious ham broth. Pieces of lard also gave it a burst of flavours.

Fun fact:
As we did not know the dish names when eating, many of my colleagues started guessing which vegetable it was, as it had the texture of pumpkin but the colour of avocado and we had not seen it before. The waitress serving us was kind enough to volunteer more information on it – it was wheat pumpkin specially procured and imported from Yunnan, and is not available in Singapore.


Besides this waitress, there were also other helpful and attentive waitresses here at the Westgate branch. I accidentally dropped a chopstick and before I could turn around to ask for a new pair, they were already on their way to me with one. They also shared with us that the name of “Cross-bridge rice noodles” arose from a loving story between an ancient Chinese scholar preparing for his exams and his warmhearted loving wife. They even offered to help me pack my dessert for takeaway as they figure I can’t finish it, since I am likely to be full from the sumptuous meal!

Talking about dessert, I had one that resembles bubble tea with many additional elements. While I don’t usually drink bubble tea, the drink looked so instagrammable in the menu I went ahead to choose it. While it was a tad too sweet and too thick for me, it was a very interesting drink the more I dig into it. There were various layers of textures from the jelly, sago and “pearls”. At the bottom was the best of it all – red beans and purple glutinous rice cooked till soft. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that they were not as sweet as I had expected. Perhaps, the sweetness of these elements had all gone into the drink itself.



If you are looking to try ethnic highland cuisines or Chinese cuisine that is not the typical Teochew or Cantonese cuisine, Yun Nans is certainly one new option.

~ Cheyenne Teo
Marketing Manager

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