The atmosphere at Greenwich Village's South of the Clouds exists in minimalist splendor. There are 12 tables and six single seats at a short bar, all laid out before a navy-and-gray mural of Yunnan villages and mountains under geometric light fixtures. But to see all of this, you'd have to crane your neck around the groups of people waiting to be seated—in the middle the afternoon, on a random Wednesday.
Chef Liheng Geng, whose father owns Brooklyn's ever-popular Yun Nan Flavour Garden, was able to generate well-deserved buzz about his 10-day-old noodle restaurant despite promoting it only on WeChat.
The dishes at South of the Clouds are large, flavorful and ideal for slurping. Beyond impressive noodle pulls of flexible mixian and presentations complete with flower petals, each bite celebrates the typically underrepresented cuisine from Yunnan—the region in China that directly translates to the restaurant's name.
The must-try is the signature Yunnan the Crossing Bridge Noodle, made with chicken broth that has simmered for four hours. Thin slices of beef, chicken, pork and fish float above the rice noodles, laden with cilantro, tofu skin and bean sprouts all arranged by color.
The Little Pot Rice Noodle also uses a four-hour broth and is made with pork, Chinese pickles and tomato. For a smaller bite, try the Pigs on a Stick: chunks of seasoned pork sprinkled with cilantro on toothpicks.
South of the Clouds has all the makings of a neighborhood mainstay, with its flavorful dishes and kind staff. Most importantly, you're guaranteed a meal you'd be hard-pressed to find an equal to.
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