Edible Flowers and Bees? Must Be Yunnanese
The once overlooked sibling of fiery Sichuan cuisine, Yunnanese fare has only recently started to blip on China’s foodie radar. While the southwestern province’s delectable dishes are often influenced by the cooking cultures of neighbours Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Tibet, Yunnan native and restaurateur Feng Jianwen eschews these imported nuances, instead offering uninitiated Beijing bon vivants a traditional culinary exploration courtesy of his new Baochao Hutong hotspot, Southern Barbarian.
Specialising in home-style cooking, this SB outpost follows the tried and tested formula of the Shanghai original – that is, honest dishes served simply and affordably, and accompanied by a staggering selection of over 80 beers from Asia, Europe, Australia and the US, including Brooklyn Local 1 and Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. Cross-the-bridge noodles and steam-pot chicken (likely the only dishes you’ll recognise, if any) are menu staples, but the extensive list also includes regional highlights such as wild mushrooms grilled in banana leaf, peppery Yunnan barbeque fish and charcoal-grilled meats, chilli tossed mint salad, salt and pepper fried goat cheese (airlifted fresh from the province), sautéed pomegranate flowers and fried goodies like potato balls and even bumble bees for the brave. With all chefs hailing from Feng’s hometown, and the contemporary white, red and wooden space accented with photographs showcasing the food and region, it’s as much an education as it is a good night out.