Another new restaurant to open at Kerry Center, In and Out, is a Lijiang themed restaurant serving Yunnan cuisine from the Dai, Bai and Naxi minority groups. Essential ingredients are flown in from Yunnan and all the servers and kitchen staff comes from Yunnan as well. The first branch of In and Out opened in Beijing 10 years ago and it is a long standing favourite with a popular following.
If you’ve never had Yunnan food before, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. It combines the use of dry spices from cooking styles of other Western China provinces like Xinjiang, with the use of fresh herbs and citrus from neighbouring countries like Thailand and Vietnam. The result is food that is bright and refreshing but also grounded by savoury spices.
Take the Roast Tilapia with Lemon Grass (68RMB) for example. It’s coated with cumin for roasting, then served with mint and cilantro piled on top plus lime wedges. The roasted fish was not dry at all and the mixtures of flavours was tantalizing.
Sautéed Potatoes with Mint & Hot Peppers (36RMB) was comforting, like a warm starchy potato salad, but the use of mint and peppers was something new for the tongue and mind to ponder. Either way, it was a delicious dish that was quickly devoured.
When we tasted the Loofah Sprouts Salad with Mujiangzi (38RMB), the lime and chilies flavor made us all immediately think of Thailand. The Jingpo-Style Silkie Chicken (48RMB) has a similar fresh taste, with the black skinned silkie chicken shredded finely and mixed with lime, chilies and cilantro.
For dessert, you could try the Erhai Dried Milk Silk (28RMB). It is fried milk dusted with powdered sugar. At first you taste sweetness from the sugar, then a salty aftertaste from the fried milk lingers. There’s also Cold Sticky Rice Congee (22RMB), which is sweet rice with a creamy texture soaked in rose flavoured syrup.
For a taste of Yunnan, go to In and Out at the Kerry Center. Lunch time is very busy but the crowds do thin out a lot at 1pm.