In Dali, there was only just time for a dinner between the morning in Kunming and the next morning’s departure to Lijiang.
Still, there is one thing that is worth showing about the Bai restaurants in Dali:
Years ago same as today, it is only here in Dali, in the stronghold – and former kingdom’s capital – of the Bai ethnic minority, that restaurants present their ingredients outside like this.
Oh, sure, you may be used to the “exotically unusual” (or is that unusually exotic in the always-same descriptions?) way that Chinese restaurants sometimes have fish tanks around the entrance.
Sometimes they are just a way of showing off the freshness of the ingredients (which may work more or less well), sometimes they really are there for the diners to choose the fish (and at times, other seafood) they want.
Sometimes, diners choose and restaurants still try to substitute a smaller and cheaper fish ;)
Most of the time, however, there is little sign of what’s being cooked in the restaurant on the outside, except if you can see photos or the plates on other guests’ tables.
With the Bai restaurants in Dali, things are a bit different.
Here, it is mainly the vegetables (and mushrooms – this is Yunnan, after all), that are set up by the roadside, in front of the restaurants.
The main way of choosing what to eat is still – big surprise! – via the menu, but I have always found this presentation a very interesting one. It is almost like the experience of “wet” markets – only here, you could point and say that you want *this*, and you’d get it made into a dish.
There are still vegetables, both seen on markets and eaten in restaurants like this, which I have not been able to identify…