What Is Authentic Yunnan Food? A Quick Guide from Los Angeles

The province of Yunnan is one of the most beautiful regions of China. It's where Shangri-La, a fictional heaven on earth, is often attributed to and where tourists flock to for the idyllic scenery and sprawling mountain ranges. Located in the southwest region of China bordering Tibet, Vietnam, and Burma—the province is known for its ethnic diversity and food similar to Sichuan, its well-known neighbor.

Like Sichuan, Yunnan also has food embedded with tongue-numbing peppercorns and a generous helping of spice. But Yunnan cuisine focuses on produce, like beautiful wild mushrooms foraged from the mountains and unique varieties of plants plucked from the countryside. Did you know that Yunnan has the largest diversity of plant life in China?

Los Angeles has the most Yunnan restaurants in the entire United States: an impressive four of just a little bit under a dozen. Three of the four in Los Angeles are under the same management and sport similar menus.

"That place makes me so homesick!" my friend from Yunnan exclaimed when I told her I had checked out Yunkun Garden in Monterey Park. "The food there tastes exactly how I remember it in Yunnan."

I asked her which two dishes resonated with her the most.

Crossing Over Bridge Noodles

"I love the cured pork. It's kind of like jerky and one of my favorite foods from back home," she said. "And the 'Crossing Over Bridge Noodles' is always good. You can never go wrong with those."

Here are some photos of delicious dishes from Yunkun Garden in Monterey Park and its sister restaurant, Yunnan Garden in San Gabriel. Both restaurants are managed and owned by a immigrant from Yunnan.

See all the dishes in the slideshow >>

Yunnan Garden 545 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776 626-308-1896

Yunkun (Yun Chuan) Garden 301 N Garfield Ave Ste D, Monterey Park, CA 91754 626-571-8387