To be honest, I never thought I’d find authentic Chinese cuisines in Paris, having lived there for a while. But things have certainly changed nowadays. Even a cuisine as rare as Yunnan has emerged in the food capital of continental Europe. Carnet de Route is a non-descript Chinese restaurant that serves the sumptuous Yunnan dishes from southwest China.
First of all, what’s the difference between Yunnan and Sichuan cuisines?
Although both provinces are next to each other, the food cultures of both cannot be more different. As many people know, Sichuan dishes are oily and filled with numbing Sichuan peppercorn and fiery red chilli. The food culture is an extension of the ones in Indochina such as Thailand, Laos and Burma.
On the other hand, Yunnan cuisine is light, the main meat is beef and yak meat. No peppercorn or chilli are involved. Locals eat yak cheese and drink yak yogurt. Also, the ham from Yunnan is well-known. Both ham and cheese are normally eaten as part of a stir-fry or a stew. These are features you would not see in other Chinese cuisines. People forage very much in the mountains for mushrooms, so wild mushrooms are highly valued in Yunnan dishes. The food culture is very much an extension of that of the Himalayan region – from Nepal and Tibet.
What are the signature dishes of Yunnan cuisine?
Yunnan cuisine is not considered to be a major Chinese cuisine, like Sichuan, but it still does attract fans who love their signature dishes.
Guo Qiao Mi Xian 过桥米线
Roughly translated as ‘bridge-crossing noodles’. It is a boiling hot noodles soup with a sumptuous milky broth made with quality beef bone marrow. The thin layer of oil prevents the heat from escaping. Legend has it that a clever housewife thought of this dish so as to make sure whenever she had to travel (by crossing lots of bridges) to deliver food to her husband in the fields, the food would still be piping hot.
YunNan Niu Ba Fu 云南牛芭芙
This is a beef casserole. Nothing special about it except that Yunnan is famous in China for its quality beef. Much like how Kobe beef is highly valued in Japan. Whenever you are in Yunnan, you have to try their beef, and yak for that matter.
As mentioned above, any dish with yak meat, cheese, Yunnan ham as well as wild mushrooms is worth trying!
This particular restaurant Carnet de Route serves the two dishes mentioned above. However, they also serve the better known spicy Sichuan dishes, so you might get a little confused. Nevertheless, do ask the waitresses for advice to point you to the most authentic Yunnan specialities!
Carnet de Route
57 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre
Tel: +33 1 7719 5573