It's winter in Yunnan and when it's cold, hot things are usually warmly welcomed. The traditional hotpot is a popular and often enjoyed meal in Kunming and beyond to properly warm you while eating. Given the ethnic mix in Kunming's population it is inevitable that there is a large variety of hotpot restaurants in this city, offering a diverse and seasonal selection of ingredients for hotpot meals, particularly in the winter.
The hotpot is a meal which is eaten out of a steaming pot of broth or stock (vegetable, poultry, beef or sheep) in the middle of the table with a variety of raw ingredients which usually include all sorts of vegetables, mushrooms, finely sliced meat and poultry. The ingredients are cooked in the broth by the diners themselves, which in turn gives all 'participants' a unique hotpot experience and taste.
Let us introduce and recommend you a small variety of popular hotpot restaurants in Kunming.
The Huize Mutton Restaurant
Add: 149, Jiaochang Middle Rd, Kunming
The mutton from Huize County (Yunnan's northeast 210 km from Kunming) is recommended for people who prefer mild meat flavors, usually from sheep and goat meat. The local delicacy is the fried goat liver which is specially popular during the winter months.
The mutton used in this restaurant is exclusively sourced from goats locally raised in the mountains of Huize County where rainfall is abundant, sunshine is ample, and the vegetation is ideal for raising quality goats. So, goats bred in and around Huize get their nutrients in the rich and high quality pastures what qualifies the delicios food as a "free range" product.
The mutton soup in this restaurant is prepared with onions, garlic, Sichuan pepper, and cardamom which give a unique taste. Also included on the menu at this restaurant are scrumptious mutton ribs, fried goat kidneys and kebabs.
De Xin Ao Niu Fu Beef Restaurant
Add: Shangdongcheng Residential Quarter, 44, Taixing Rd, Kunming
This restaurant specialises in fresh products imported from Australia including high quality beef, lamb and wine. It is one of the better restaurants for beef in Kunming given the food source. The elegantly designed restaurant has succeeded in integrating the European and Australian styles. Diners should try the restaurants specialty: flaked beef. "What we do is provide the diner with affordable, safe and tasty food," said the general manager of the restaurant.
Duo Ge Shui Dai Flavour Restaurant
Add 1: first floor, Lianqin Hotel, 2696, Dianmian Rd, Kunming
Add 2: 10 Sima Alley, near the Golden Horse and Jade Rooster Archways, Kunming
Visitors to Kunming should definitely sample the unique cuisine of the ethnic Dai people, particularly their hotpot. There are many high quality Dai restaurants in Kunming and this restaurant is one of the best offering a selection of hotpots which are unique to the Dai people and which are in matters of taste style and flavor indeed very different from the Chongqing and Sichuan style hotpot. Note that this restaurant offers Dai ethnic style hotpot meals only in winter!
The restaurant has four different varieties of hotpot soup / broth of which all are highly recommended:
1-Sour bamboo shoots (Suan Sun): whose principle ingredient is the tender appetizing sour bamboo shoot of Xishuangbanna in the south of Yunnan.
2-Coconut juice soup: 100 % made from coconut juice sourced from coconuts cultivated in the tropical south of Yunnan. Sweet and fragrant, this variety of hotpot which includes some local ingredients offers eaters a brand new taste.
3-Dried pickled vegetable soup: The soup is made from the traditional Dai ethnic pickled vegetables sourced from Xishuangbanna, Sour and spicy but in typical Dai style, this hotpot is a classic!
4-Passion fruit soup: It is the restaurant's specialty and is easily the foundation of a unique meal to be remembered.
Lei Shen Hotpot Restaurant
Add: inside Jin Niu Wang Yue Restaurant, Xingyuan Rd, Kunming
The area of Chongqing is widely known for its hotpot. The Leishen Hotpot is the winner of "the most popular hotpot in China for 2014" and is regarded as the best hotpot brand in Chongqing. Since the year 2013, a nationwide campaign was launched to establish outlets of this restaurant in many Chinese cities such as Guiyang, Cuanjiang, Ziyang, Zhengzhou and Kunming. An annual dedicated hotpot festival is held to promote the Chongqing hotpot culture.
In this restaurant, one can enjoy the authentic Chongqing hotpot with beef, duck intestines, cattle stomach, bean curd, fish, crab and Chongqing beer.
Pao Ge Ma Tou Hotpot Restaurant
Add: crossing of West Ring Rd and Ankang Rd (second floor of Fudian Bank), Kunming
This restaurant, another price winning hotpot paradise of Chongqing is themed with the Bayu Culture which is one of the outstanding cultures in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. The food available in the restaurant is great, especially try the noodles, shrimps, rice cake and crispy fried pork. Also recommended is the offered beer from Wuniangye Brewery.
Xiao Ni Niu Beef Restaurant
Add: 003, 4th floor, Tower B, Building 2, Xindulongcheng, Beijing Rd, Kunming
A restaurant offering authentic Angus beef. Angus cattle are internationally acknowledged as a source of high quality beef and are crowned "the best among beef". The beef the restaurant serves comes from the ecological breeding base in Shilin County in the southeast of Kunming. In 2013, the Angus beef was granted the status of 'National Organic Verification of China'. Compared to luxurious hotel restaurants, this restaurant provides high quality beef hotpot at a reasonable price.
Le Tang Chong Shan Wild Mushroom Restaurant
Add: 104 Longkang Rd, Kunming
The wild mushrooms are special treats for visitors to Yunnan during wet summers. Many wild mushrooms are vacuum stored though for further usage during the rest of the year. In Kunming, many theme restaurants in Kunming's Guanshang area serve wild mushroom hotpot. What is special in this restaurant is the braised wild mushroom hotpot with picked vegetables. "The hotpot in our restaurant uses the traditional ways of the Yi ethnic group for preparing mushrooms," sais the boss of the restaurant, "At the same time, we add home raised chicken, making the dishes a little sour and very nutritious."
Need more ideas for what to eat while in Yunnan and Kunming? Have a look at our meals section and/or contact us directly for more information. Also, check out our 9 days Culinary Adventure Tour throughout Yunnan!