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Yunnan food with a scent of history

http://www.chinese.cn 14:45, September 29, 2010 Xinhua News Agency

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South Silk Road Restaurant
South Silk Road Restaurant

For anyone who steps into South Silk Road restaurant near the Workers' Stadium, the eatery impresses with its distinctive dcor and coveted Yunnan delicacies.

Looked at from afar, the restaurant entrance is reminiscent of tree-shaded porch of a French country villa. A row of emerald shutters and the equally old-fashioned skylights above them invite the sunset glow and summer breeze inside.

But manager Liu Xin explains it's all original Yunnan flavor.

"If you wander the streets in Kunming, you will often come across small restaurants that look exotic," Liu said.

The look is influenced by the geographical proximity of Vietnam, which was a former French colony.

The bar counter behind the shutters serves nearly 100 different wines and whiskey. Some couches, each made of a different material, are placed around old-suitcase-converted teapoys to embellish the drinking tableau.

Those who don't drink can still stay to enjoy the nightfall, Liu said.

And truly, when the night falls, there's plenty more to offer.

Yunnan cuisine
Yunnan cuisine

Seated in the somewhat dim but cozy dinning hall, you can imagine that you are attending a French dinner party.

Round dinning tables, mostly designed for eight people, are covered with milk-white tablecloths. A simple glass vase stands on each table accompanied by sets of equally elegant tableware, each consisting of a porcelain plate laid on a bigger counterpart and a pair of chopsticks and a spoon lying on the right side.

Cream curtains, made of flax, fall against the cream window frames, which set off the wooden floor, on which the sound of footsteps adds to the cozy family atmosphere.

One more element that imparts a private dining atmosphere is the utensil cupboards of different heights that divide the space into distinct areas.

Liu is considerate enough of dinners' visual fun that he displays in one of the high cupboards a series of porcelain tea caddies of different designs and long history that he collected from Central China's Hunan province.

In another, Li shows the artifacts that evoke the ancient tea merchants, such as a brick of tea more than 100 years old and faded saddles that traveled the South Silk Road.

Liu wants these momentos to remind customers of the restaurant's cultural roots, but they also remind diners of restaurant's artistic provenance.

Fang Lijun, one of the most renowned contemporary Chinese artists, is the main shareholder of the restaurant, so the dining place has been decorated with his artistic eye.

Reproductions of Fang's characteristic works hang on the walls, along with faded pictures of his early drifting life, which is in keeping with Liu's desire to provide an ideal dining place for those who prefer to eat exquisitely-made dishes in an exquisite environment.


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