Yunnan Nationalities Village (云南民族村) is one of the best man-made tourist attractions that we have been to in recent years. Yunnan province is located in south-west China, close to Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. Yunnan is home to many of the ethnic minority groups still found in China and 26 of these ethnic groups are featured in this 100 hectare park in the City of Kunming, Yunnan. Where there is people, there are food places to try. In this case we tried a well-known dish of Yunnan – the 过桥米线 – literally translated as “crossing the bridge noodles”.
Yunnan Nationalities Village
We have visited other theme parks with the same concept as Yunnan Nationalities Village, but this one has the best execution of the concept by a successful combination of good craftsmanship in re-creating the traditional habitats of each group, having actual members from the ethnic groups man their respective villages and running cultural performances from the groups throughout the day.
Cross bridge noodles
There were some restaurants and tea houses at Yunnan Nationalities Village providing nourishment for tired tourists. Our host suggested we try the restaurant specialising in “cross the bridge” noodles. It seems that legend has it that there was once a scholar who sought isolation on an island so that he could concentrate on studying for his Imperial examinations. His dutiful wife would bring food to him, but the food tends to get cold by the time she got there. One day, she brought him some oily soup noodles in a heavy earthen bowl. The scholar discovered that the layer of oil on the soup, as well as the heavy receptacle provided a good solution to keeping food warm over some time. He named this kind of noodles 過橋米線!
Back to the present, there were various combinations of the cross bridge noodles. The two variables being the number of toppings to go with the noodles and the side dishes. Having experienced the large servings in restaurants in Kunming, we decided on one of the more basic combinations that costs CNY 38.
True to tradition, the highlight of the meal was the thick heavy bowl of soup topped with a generous surface layer of oil. Thin slices of various types of meat and other ingredients were added to the soup, followed by the noodles, which reminded us of the thick bee hoon that we use for laksa back home in Singapore. The taste of the soup was light and tasty. We think it is an easy-going style of soup that would suit most people. Perhaps it was made this way so that the scholar could concentrate on his studies and not suffer any digestive issues.
We had some side dishes – lotus roots and roast chicken. They were more strongly flavoured and salty. Not bad as it provided some contrast to the mild-mannered soup.
Here are some pictures of other food that we tried at Yunnan Nationalities Village. Some onion ring look-alike snack that was actually slightly sweet fried fritters. They must have a lot of flowers in Yunnan as flower flavoured cookies were everywhere. These were the best local snacks that we tried on our short trip there. We will show you more about the food that we tried in subsequent stories.
Overall, the Yunnan Nationalities Village is surely worth a visit if you are in the area. Admission fee was CNY 90 for adults. Each village is quite compact and can be explored by foot, but there is some distance separating each village. Various light motorised transport options are available. We suggest hiring the golf buggy options. They come in different sizes. The 7-seater buggy with driver costs CNY 300/car (two hours). Provide for at two to four hours to tour the place. Best to check current details and operating hours from their website.