South of the Clouds
16 W 8th Street
City: New York, NY
Phone: (218) 888-9653
Hours: Open 7 Days: Monday-Sunday 11am-10pm
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Chinese
Area: Greenwich Village
My first encounter with Yun Nan Flavour Garden was at a small, side-street restaurant in Sunset Park at a cramped counter, sitting on tiny stools, and enjoying bowls of fiery noodle soups. It was also my first encounter with cooking from China's Yunnan Province. Side Geng, the owner, eventually moved into a much larger space, and luxurious in comparison, on 8th Avenue in Brooklyn's Chinatown. Now, his son, Liheng, is taking Yunnan rice noodles to the next level with South of the Clouds, a stylish spot on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. The space features elaborate woodwork, stone walls and lovely pottery, along with extremely courteous service. The fiery food, which made Yun Nan Flavour Garden famous, is still very much intact.
The signature dish is Crossing The Bridge, a huge bowl of soup made with chicken broth that is simmered for at least 4 hours. The bowl is filled with an elaborate mix of chicken, beef, pork and fish, as well as tofu skin, vegetables and cilantro. Another dish, Little Pot Rice Noodle, offers pork as the star. Dig deeper and your will find bean sprouts, chives, tomato and the crunch of Chinese pickles. It also packs a bit of heat. Cold Stir Rice Noodles, a dry dish, features a large bed of noodles topped with minced pork, fermented bean paste and peanuts. Stir it into the noodles and start slurping for a spicy sensation. Sides include smashed cucumber salad with peppercorn oil, and Pigs on a Stick; cumin-dusted bits of pork served on individual toothpicks and smothered with chili flakes and cilantro. It's vibrant and addictive. Desserts include something called Water Drop, made with rose petals and jelly.
If powerful flavors are what you seek, head South of the Clouds.
Review By: Thomas Rafael