The most famous Yunnan dish is "crossing the bridge noodles" (guoqiao mixian), a hot pot consisting of steaming chicken broth to which you add thinly sliced chicken, pork, fish, other meats, vegetables, mushrooms, and rice noodles, all seasoned with peppers and chilies to taste. The oil on top keeps the simmering food hot enough to scald tongues, so be careful with your first bites! According to legend, the dish was invented over a century ago by the wife of a scholar who discovered that a layer of oil on top of her husband's food could keep it warm all the way from her kitchen across the bridge to a pavilion where he was studying for his imperial examinations, hence the dish's name. Another popular local dish is qiguo ji (chicken stewed with medicinal herbs). Along with a pharmacopoeia of allegedly healthful herbs and spices that are often used in many local dishes, Yunnan mushrooms are also valued for their medicinal qualities. Fried goat cheese, Yunnan sweet ham, and Yunnan coffee are some other local favorites.

Local Flavors -- Just on the other side of the Yuantong Bridge are a number of holes in the wall serving excellent roast duck. The dish is so popular among locals that whole racks of birds are lined up for the oven every single day. Combined with a couple of fresh fruit juices (¥4-¥6) from Fresh, just around the corner opposite the river, this makes an excellent choice for lunch.

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