This week we shared Yunnan Kitchen’s five best dishes, after reviewing the Lower East Side restaurant. Now meet Travis Post, the executive chef of Yunnan Kitchen, and find out how he was drawn to regional Chinese cooking.
How did you develop an interest for fusion Chinese food?
I was trying to stay away from the word fusion. Because I think what we’re trying to do is replicate the dishes quite straightforwardly. I took Chinese cooking classes when I was 12 or 14. Then just learning more and more about Chinese regional cooking itself kind of spoke to me, especially food from Sichuan and Yunnan.
How would you describe your menu?
Everything is pretty representative of the region. A lot of salads. We have a mint salad that’s very light and refreshing and a shredded chicken salad. There’s a scrambled egg dish that’s pretty specific and unique that uses some flowers and buds. Also mushrooms . There’s a lot of mushroom dishes. There’s tons of wild mushroom along the area.
Erika Chou and I started talking about our interest in the regional cuisines of China and how underrepresented most things were and our passion for the south — for Yunnan and Sichuan. We thought Yunnan food is so specific and beautiful that it deserved a better shot. We thought people would really gravitate towards it.
Did you take a research trip to the region?
We took a trip to China but did not make it down to the region itself because we were pretty time constrained. It’s kind of a remote place. We just didn’t have enough time to get there but we ate at at least two dozen Yunnan restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai. We talked to a lot of great chefs there.
What’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
I love sitting at the tavern room at Gramercy. It’s always a classic and it never disappoints.