Eat Like a Local: 10 Best Kunming Foods

Kunming foods are representative of Yunnan Cuisine, also called Dian dishes, which fuse cooking styles of multiple cities and over 25 nationalities in Yunnan Province. With its high humidity and mild temperatures, Kunming provides abundant fruits and vegetables all year for the local cuisine. In addition, there are numerous snack options in high streets and back lanes. To 'do in Rome as the Romans do', you cannot miss trying the most authentic Dian dishes while traveling to Kunming. Below is a full list of the best 10 Kunming foods the locals like most:


Rice Noodles with Tofu Puddings (Douhua Mixian)

Chinese Name: 豆花米线 dòu huā mǐ xiàn
Flavor: salty and a bit sweet
Cooking Method: boil and mix

Rice Noodles with Tofu Puddings are signature Kunming food and top among all the Yunnan rice noodles. After boiling the rice noodles, add in some ingredients like dry pickled vegetables, Chinese leek, and spicy meat sauce. Finally, add some Toufu puddings on the top and it can be served. The light sweet Toufu will properly neutralize the spicy flavor. Remember to mix them before having the first bite.

Yunnan Mashed Potatoes (Old Grandma's Potatoes)

Chinese Name: 老奶洋芋 lǎo nǎi yáng yù
Flavor: salty, soft
Cooking Method: steam or boil, stir-fry

As one of the best Kunming foods, Yunnan Mashed Potatoes are popular among people of all ages. The locals often call it Old Grandma’s Potatoes because it can be enjoyed easily even by old granny. The potatoes need to be boiled or steamed first. After that, peel and mash them. At last, the mashed potatoes must be stir-fried with oil, salt, peppers, chopped green onions and coriander.

Steam-Pot Chicken

Chinese Name: 汽锅鸡 qì guō jī
Flavor: salty and tender
Cooking Method: steam, boil

This dish gained its name from its cooking method: steaming the chicken in a pot with a hollow tube in the center. It is a simple tasty dish. To make it, place chicken, ginger, shallot, pepper and salt in the pot and steam for about four hours, during which time steam from the tube contacts the cold pot cover turning to water, then flows back into the pot to become delicious chicken soup. Before serving, remove ginger and shallot.

Roast Rice Cake

Chinese Name: 烧饵块 shāo ěr kuài
Flavor: tender, glutinous, salt, sweet
Cooking Method: roast

Shao Erkuai is a unique snack can only be seen in the Yunnan area. However, you will be surprised by its popularity as you can easily find Erkuai stalls in any lanes or streets in Kunming. Erkuai is made of various local rice, mostly are white rice and purple rice. Ground the cooked rice and make them into square or round cake shapes. Then toast them over the heat and brush with sesame sauce or spicy sauce. You can also try eating like locals, wrapping a deep-fried dough stick or hams.  

Wild Mushroom

Chinese Name: 野山菌 yě shān jùn
Flavor: fresh, salty
Cooking Method: stew, boil or stir-fry

Yunnan is a kingdom of wild mushroom, where the edible wild mushroom family is over 200 varieties. The fresh wild mushroom has become a permanent dish on Kunming locals’ menu. After raining, all sorts of mushrooms just come out. With various cooking methods, it can be made into a mild soup with other vegetables or stir-fried with peppers and meat. Moreover, a wild mushroom hot-pot will tickle your taste bud from the very first spite.

Flower Cake

Chinese Name: 鲜花饼 xiān huā bǐng
Flavor: sweet, crispy
Cooking Method: bake

As a must-try dessert of Kunming food, Flower Cake, one of the representative Dian-style mooncakes, derived from the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) and used to be praised by the royals. It features the unique filling which is made of Yunnan local roses. Sometimes, other ingredients like yulan magnolia, sesames, peanuts, semen juglandis and jujube paste can be added per preference. The sweet stuffing with a light rose fragrance and crispy crust make it one of the most popular cakes in Yunnan.

Braised Rice with Beans

Chinese Name: 豆焖饭 dòu mēn fàn
Flavor: salty
Cooking Method: boil, braise

It’s savory staple food in Kunming and the main ingredients are rice, green beans or peas, potatoes and Xuanwei hams. First, soak the uncooked rice in the water for a while. Cut the potatoes into small pieces, stir-fry them for several minutes and add the chopped hams and green beans. Mix them well and add the water and rice. Boil and braise them for about 20 minutes, and then it can be served with a perfect combination of color, aroma and taste.

Yunnan Stuffed Bun

Chinese Name: 破酥包子 pò sū bāo zi
Flavor: soft, salty, sweet
Cooking Method: steam

Yunnan Stuffed Bun, a popular snack can be seen in Kunming’s fancy hotels and street stalls, is different from the other stuffed buns. Made of low-gluten flour, lard stearin, hams, diced meat, sugar and chopped dried mushrooms, the bun tastes savory but a little bit sweet. The freshly steamed stuffed bun is especially delicious as the soft outer skin and juicy meat fillings seem melting in the mouth, definitely a fabulous Kunming food you cannot miss.

Pineapple Rice

Chinese Name: 菠萝饭 bō luó fàn
Flavor: soft and gluninous, a bit sour & sweet
Cooking Method: steam

Pineapple Rice is one of the favorite dishes of the Yunnan people, a typical delicacy with Dai ethnic characteristics. The sour and sweet flavors make it be served as a dessert sometimes, especially popular among children and ladies. Empty a ripe pineapple, chop the pulp into small cubes and then mix them with rice and glutinous rice. Put the mixture into the empty pineapple. Add some sugar and steam the pineapple. The sweet chewy rice will dominate your mouth and you can enjoy a light fragrance of the pineapple. Pretty yummy!

Guandu Baked Cake (Guandu Baba)

Chinese Name: 官渡粑粑 guān dù bǎ ba
Flavor: soft and chewy, sweet, salty
Cooking Method: roast and bake

Guandu is a quaint historical town in Yunnan Province and it is famed for producing a delicious local snack, Baba. This is a Yunnan-style cake made of buckwheat flour dough, sometimes white and corn flour dough with fillings. The cake is baked over hot coals and often two flavors are available. The Baba with sweet fillings composed of sesame, ground peanuts and walnuts mixed with sugar is more common while the salty version filled with oil, meat and pickled vegetables also worth a try.

Read more:
10 Special Yunnan Foods You Need to Try

Top 10 Things to Do in Kunming

- Last modified on Dec. 29, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on Eat Like a Local: 10 Best Kunming Foods
Asked by Bruce Pearson from USA | Apr. 28, 2017 00:21Reply
I fly into Kunming Saturday afternoon and fly out Monday morning.
Will have enough time to visit the Stone Forest and the Yunnan Folk Village. If so, what to you advise is the best course to take?
Answers (1)
Answered by Bob from USA | May. 03, 2017 04:53

If you arrive at the airport in the early afternoon, you may take the airport shuttle bus Route no.2 to Jinjiang Hotel first. Upon arrival, you need to walk 400 meters southwards to Beijing Road Bus Stop and take bus no.44 to the folk village directly. Then you may visit this village and find a hotel near it. On the next morning, you may finish visiting the village and head for Stone Forest. As I know, there is no direct bus operating between these two places, so you are advised to charter a car. If your leaving flight is on the early morning, you may need to catch the direct bus from the Stone Forest to the airport on the Sunday afternoon. This bus usually departs at 08:20, 09:50, 11:10, 12:20, 13:40, 15:10, 16:10 and 17:50.
If you arrive at the airport in the late afternoon, this schedule will be a little tight for you. You may choose one you want to visit most.
Asked by M Lokman Hossain from BANGLADESH | Mar. 22, 2016 01:24Reply
where can I get Indian food in kunming
Answers (1)
Answered by Gavin from UNITED KINGDOM | Mar. 22, 2016 03:49

Oh, there are several indian restaurants in this city. Among them, CACAJA Indian Restaurant and Indian Kitchen are popular ones. You can find authentic indian dishes there. And the prices are acceptable.
CACAJA Indian Restaurant: No.51, Wenhua Alley
Indian Kitchen: No.156, Wenlin Street, Wuhua District
Hope you like. :)
Asked by S L Lau from MALAYSIA | Nov. 25, 2014 06:08Reply
Street food in kunming
Where are the famous street food vendors operate during day and night time? What is the most popular place to buy, eat and watching people?
Answers (1)
Answered by Lily from FRENCH GUIANA | Nov. 25, 2014 21:01

Well, as far as I know, Bei Damen Shopping Street, Xingyuan Street, Dianchi Street and Guannan Avenue are famous dining areas. These places is winning popularity among local people and foreigners.
Hope you like.
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