Yunnan Kitchen's Superb Chinese | Lower East Side, NYC

How the superb Yunnan Kitchen was born

Some broken dreams can be a delicious boon.

Our favorite recent example: Travis Post, the executive chef of the brand-new Yunnan Kitchen in the Lower East Side, first had visions of opening a Sichuanese restaurant. Instead, after a fateful meeting with owner Erika Chou, Post trained his knives on the cuisine of Yunnan in southwestern China.

Thank goodness for misdirection, as Post's food is outstanding.

Sheets of tofu skin ($8) are treated like a delicate spring green, tossed with lime juice, rice vinegar, house-made chile oil, slivered red onions and a fistful of cilantro leaves. This is no salad for the meek.

Likewise, fried head-on shrimp ($13) boldly crackle with the spark of both lime juice and wild-lime leaves, and a grilled skewer of fingerling potatoes and shishito peppers ($5) is dusted with an intense blend of black cardamom, cumin and Sichuan peppercorns.

There is plenty of subtlety on display here, too. Grassy chrysanthemum greens ($7) are gently coated with a dressing of sesame paste, soy sauce and black vinegar, and a salad ($9) of wood-ear mushrooms, gingko nuts, lily bulbs and blanched celery is a cavalcade of texture. 

Cheers to happy accidents.

Yunnan Kitchen, 79 Clinton St. (at Rivington St.); 212-253-2527 or