lijiang had the best eating we did in this yunnanese trip – we arrived armed with low-to-no expectations and were met not only with interesting options, but good ones as well. there was a good mix of restaurants and small-store options that helped bridge the gap between meals, and that helped engender this town even more to our affections.
sometimes, it’s good to be a tourist in a touristy town.
I’ll admit though – that we had become so wary of the food in yunnan by this point, that the first place we ate at was the crowne plaza, where we were staying.
the chinese restaurant (which masquerades as breakfast hall in the morningtime) serves up a mix of local and cantonese-like food, pretty fancy-like, and pretty good cooking.
there was a lovely fried rice with separate grains, topped with prawns in a chilli-crab=type sauce; diced chicken bits (they like it fatty this part of the world) cooked fragrant with dried red chillies (they like it spicy this part of the world); and greens in a three-egg (century, salted, and normal) sauce. the only dish we didn’t quite fancy was the mapo tofu, which had a spicy meat sauce slightly heavy on the cumin.
the next day, emboldened by discovery of more-than-edible food, we went out on the streets and found lovely things like popsicles and walnut cakes – and these butter buns with a coffee crust from pappagourmet.
super fragrant buns made impossibly delicious and moreish with more-than-you’d-want-to-know amounts of butter. perfect hot, slightly less so when cooled (though still eminently edible).
but perhaps most surprising on this trip, was this tiny cafe we found in a back alley – which would have found its place in the cafe-town of taipei, or the cutesy kawaii cafes in japan, or even in singapore’s burgeoning coffee scene. done up all in a calming pastel and wood mix, the cafe is both seller-of-cute-things and provider of coffee and cake.
there’s a mix of stationary, notebooks and houseware with cat motifs, and many of the drawings and cards on offer are done specifically for the cafe. very, very adorable.
it’s a two-storey cafe – the first floor is shop and counter, the second pure seating space – with shelves of books and a space brightly-lit with sunlight through wide, open windows.
it’s a simple menu dominated by coffee and tea – both of which are pretty decent – as well as cakes and dessert. we got a tiramisu for tea-time, light and fluffy – with a thick dusting of cocoa and properly-soaked savoiardi biscuits.
and for dinner on the second night, we went to this restaurant by the back gate of the crowne plaza – good local food in a refined, modern-esque restaurant that was packed to the rafters and required reservations.
most delicious was a snowfish steamed in soya sauce and chilli oil – firm, chewy meat that had that sweet milkiness usually found in cod, and seasoned very nicely.
the fish was so great because it was killed only moments before cooking – and you can make sure your fish is fresh too, when in china, if they hit the fish with a hammer when you pick it out the tank (otherwise, they might not be quite so scrupulous).
we also ordered a mushroom hotpot (the region is famous for these fungi), and wild greens sauteed in galic. a good, hearty meal, finished eventually with durian crepe-rolls and a jelly-wrapped mango dessert.
just in case:
- the crowne plaza lijiang ancient town: 丽江和府皇冠假日酒店 at 中国大陆 丽江 中国云南省丽江市古城区祥和路276号: 276 Xianghe Rd, Old Town District, Lijiang; tel +86 888 558 8888 (incidentally one of the best hotels I’ve been to)
- pappagourmet for butter buns: 帕帕珍味面包 at 古城区 大石桥(四方街)
- momi cafe for coffee and cake: 猫的天空之城的小站 at 丽江古城五一街兴仁上段75号转饮玉巷2号, tel 0888 8880662 (apparently a chain!)
more in this series of series-es:
more in this series:
- kunming city, china
- kunming outskirts, china
- kunming to dali, china
- lijiang sights, china
- lijiang eats, china (you’re here!)
- lijiang to shangri-la, china
- shangri-la, china
- kunming eats, china
p.s. I’ll be adding details to the trip posts as I remember them – so check back if you’re planning your own!