On my first night in Jinghong, the major city of the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan, after checking into my dinky hotel, I wandered out toward the narrow downtown streets in search of a 烧烤 joint.  Some parts of the city sleep late, the slow, tropical life drawn out into the cool, beer-filled night and the husky smoke of skewers barbecuing over glowing coals.  I found a spot along Jinlu Alley, across from a park of elephant statues and a field of (probably drunk) men playing some game like petanque, but with spinning tops.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan BBQ restaurant 2The restaurant didn’t inspire the utmost confidence, but there were a few occupied tables of twos and threes happily munching away, and the spread looked pretty fresh, so I ordered a small batch of things.  I went to the convenience store next door to buy a drink, and sat back down for some grilled squid, tofu, and shrimp, along with a plate of Jinghong-style stir-fried rice noodles (like pad thai, but with lemon juice vinegar and ginger and dollops of backfat instead of sweeter citrus).House of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan BBQ skewers House of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan vegetables House of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan BBQ restaurant House of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan stir-fried rice noodlesThe squid came charred, chopped up and doused with a layer of mild chili salt, a satisfying spiciness that built up in your sinuses.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan BBQ grilled squidThe tofu squares and the shrimp also had the same seasoning, a hint of cumin residing underneath the bright chili flakes.  All three I ate with a chili & lime juice sauce.  All these flavors were indicative of Vietnamese and Laotian influences, not unlike seafood and a lime-white-pepper combination that I’d been treated to in Ho Chi Minh City.House of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan BBQ grilled shrimp tofuHouse of Haos Xishuangbanna Yunnan lime juice chili sauceA pretty scrumptious first night in Xishuangbanna, I must say.  I had to go back to the convenience store for another drink after I spent most of the first one dousing the budding fires in the my mouth.  But the chili-induced sweat was good, and in the mild humidity of a late summer night in Yunnan, not at all unwelcome.  The spice made for a pleasant stroll home.  Full belly, clear sinuses, can’t lose.

Advertisements