The middle of the summer probably isn't the best time to have the urge for soup. Hot soup! But after a visit to Mission Chinese Food on Orchard Street I was in need of something spicy. I had heard of Yunnanese cuisine but never tied it. It's named after Yunnan, or Pinyin, province in southern China known for fiery dishes influenced by Sichuan cooking as well as Vietnam and Laos.
In New York, Yunnanese cuisine is just starting to take off with the introduction of Lotus Blue in Tribeca and Yunnan Kitchen on the Lower East Side. But the place that got it all going was Yun Nan Flavour Snack located on 49th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It's a tiny spot that only seats about six people at best with counters propped up by boxes and tiny stools. But for what it may lack in ambiance it makes up for with taste.
The restaurant is run by a husband-and-wife team. They barely speak a stitch of English, but are some of the nicest people you will find anywhere. And boy can they cook. The menu is dominated by noodle and rice dishes that are matched up with various stews. The beef stew features tender beef morsels swimming in a rich broth with silky rice noodles, scallions and cilantro. A homemade hot sauce packs a punch as chili oil and red pepper flakes permeate the dish. A second bowl we ordered arrived with crunchy bits of crackling on top. And don't pass up on the dumplings. They are plump and juicy and served in a hot and sour broth. You will also like the price. All of the dishes sell for under five bucks.
Yun Nan Flavour Snack is the place to go when you need that spicy food fix.