Wild Edible Mushroom Hotpot in Yunnan

Wild Edible Mushroom Hotpot in Yunnan(云南野生菌火锅) is very popular in all 16 cities and prefectures of Yunnan Province especially in the rainy seasons from May to September.

Kunming is famous for its wild mushrooms and is also famous for its mushroom hotpot restaurants. They don’t have English names or large advertising budgets to market themselves to foreign tourists, but if you would like to seek one out, it’s not difficult to do.

The right time of year (mushroom season) is from late June to late September. Last night I went with local friends to the main mushroom hotpot district on Guanshang Street 关上路 and we picked a popular place more or less at random to have our mushroom feast.

There are dozens of these restaurants side by side for several blocks. Guanshang Street is close by the international convention center 国贸中心, and these restaurants cater more to well-heeled business types visiting from other parts of China than to backpackers on a tight budget.

The one we visited last night was pretty typical. You select fresh mushrooms from a refrigerated display case, kitchen staff cleans and slices them, and a waitress cooks them at your table in a central pot of boiling broth. You can select a chicken or duck based stock.

The waitress cooks the mushrooms a set amount of time, some varieties take longer, and must be put into the stock first. If they aren’t cooked properly, they can be poisonous. You are not even allowed to dip your chopsticks in the broth while it is cooking. They are strict about it.

When the time is right, she serves you individual portions. While the cooking was going on, you made a dish of dipping sauce to taste, had drinks, and shared one or two plates of fried items sort of like appetizers. We had fried grasshoppers and tiny fried minnow fish.

We enjoyed a selection of five or six kinds of mushrooms, then added some beef slices and vegetables to the broth. Steamed rice was available.

The meal usually winds up costing about 200 Yuan per person, but it’s a splurge that isn’t available in every part of China. Something memorable to do in Yunnan if you are here at the right time of year.

The place we went to last night was called Jing Chuan Wild Mushroom King 京川野菌王。 Address — Corner of Guanshang and Guanxing Streets 关上关兴路180号。 Phone — 0871-7152168.