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Saturday, January 19, 2013

yunnan kitchen

"we know this great place on the lower east side that has rice cakes"
"what do you mean, rice cakes? i don't wanna eat there"
"no... not THOSE rice cakes.  not the crunchy ones dieters get from the grocery store"
"what then?"
"you'll see.  and you'll love them"


ok so the conversation went something like that.
we had friends in town for the weekend, and they insisted that we go to yunnan kitchen sometime during the weekend.
with a name like "yunnan kitchen", i was expecting your typical chinatown restaurant... you know what i'm talking about:
--- bamboo & philodendrons overtaking the place
---those plastic bowls with chinese designs all over them
--- a little of that outdated-but-its-ok-because-its-a-chinese-restaurant-and-that's-the-way-chinese-restaurants-are kind of feel to the place

this place is a complete 180 from that. 
it's trendy, dimly lit, has communal tables, fashionable employees, a view into the kitchen... everything you'd expect from a hot, new york city restaurant.

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and the food certainly exceeded our expectations.
if you've never had yunnan food, one of their specialties is their mala sauce.
mala sauce is a flavor i had never tasted before. it's spicy, but in a totally different way. it doesn't set your mouth on fire and make you dripping sweat, but rather gives a bit of heat, but also gives a numbing or tingling sensation.  you just have to try it.  we had this spice on chicken wings and as a dipping  spice for crispy pork belly.

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as for the "rice cakes"... oh my... the best way i can describe them, is chinese gnocchi.  they make them in a long roll and slice it.  the texture is sort of gummy like gnocchi, but made with rice flour instead of potatoes and wheat flour. it was served in a sort of stir-fry with mushrooms and greens.  seriously, i could go back there JUST for that...

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side note, if you are the kind of person who just "can't use chopsticks", we suggest taking baby steps by using them with sticky rice first!  i don't know why someone wouldn't like sticky rice, it just about tastes just like regular white rice, but sticks together more.  but, it's easy to eat with chopsticks because it literally sticks to it, helping those chopsticks-impaired folks ;)

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i highly suggest this place!

cheers to the weekend :)

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