I was quite fascinated by the opening of Jin's Pot; serving Yunnan Cuisine here in San Diego. Admittedly, I really don't know a great deal about true Yunnan cuisine as most of the places I've been to even in the SGV, seem to be a combination of Sichuan....or perhaps it is Northern Yunnan which borders Sichuan, cuisine. With over 20 different indigenous ethnic groups in the "Kingdom of Animal and Plants", Dian Cai, the cuisine of Yunnan seems to be quite diverse.
I first visited a couple of days after I did that midweek post. The place was really empty; the older gentleman who greeted me, hardly spoke English, but seemed very nice. Eventually, a younger man entered, very friendly, and things got under way.
Things started with some boiled peanuts....not too salty and pretty good overall.
The one Yunnan Dish that I have had several itmes is the well known Crossing the Bridge Rice Noodle ($11.99).
I must admit, just like Kirbie it seems like there was quite a bit more to this compared to versions I had before. Thinly sliced chicken breast, mushroom-pork "meatball", bean curd skin, all went nicely with the dish....the luncheon meat wasn't Spam, I'm kinda wondering if this was a substitute for the famous xuānwēi tuǐ - the prize winning ham of the region?
The soup was fairly hearty, with a decent salt content, being a bit higher in fat and collagen it retained heat quite well. The rice noodles also held up well.
This was a pretty decent bowl of noodle soup, though not worth the $11.99 price, even with a 10% grand opening discount, I thought it over-priced. Consider that you can get a Kotteri Tonkotsu with a side of Kakuni Pork from Yamadaya for the same price....
A few weeks later, my coworkers, "YZ" and Lily were nice enough to join me for lunch. Since YZ is from Shanghai and Lily from Shanxi, we'd have no translation problems.
We started with a "Cold Dish Combo" ($11.99), various liang cai.
This really wasn't a good value......the bean curd was bland and terrible, the stewed beef (in the back) was the best of the bunch....but we found the flavor to be on the mild side.
We were told that the "Sour" version of the hot pot was the best so we went with that.
It was kind of scummy, but the flavor was decent, very similar to the broth for the Crossing the Bridge noodles, though not as thick ....not too salty, nor too sour, good white pepper, fairly hearty....YZ enjoyed it the most.
I had read that papaya is used quite extensively in Yunnan cuisine......because we had ordered the hot pot, I decided we should have the stir fried chicken with papaya.
This dish seemed very homestyle. The flavor was sharp and sour, but nothing really stood out. Some pieces of the chicken were on the tough and dry side and the dish had a certain greasiness to it.
The meal came out to $38, kind of pricey for what we got.....I wouldn't complain if the preparation and execution of the dishes was top notch, I'm all about quality trumping quantity, but this was pretty simple homestyle food and thus fell short in both the quality and value category.
The young man serving us was very nice; though I don't think we'll be back anytime soon.
4690 Convoy St. Suite B109
San Diego, CA 92111
You cna read Kirbie's post here.