Lower East Side’s Yunnan Kitchen Shuns Assimilation

Barely a month has passed since Erika Chou opened the buzzed-about Yunnan Kitchen, her first restaurant on the Lower East Side with chef Travis Post formerly of Bklyn Larder and Franny’s in Brooklyn. Their menu features, you guessed it, food from the Chinese province Yunnan. Inside the 60-seat Clinton Street restaurant, you can spot hipsters and neighborhood regulars alike sitting under the faux tiger skin on the wall or at the community table.

“We wanted to introduce more people to the beauty of the region and its food,” says Chou, over a steaming plate of meaty trumpet mushrooms. “Each province has its own cooking style and in New York we have a lot of Cantonese and Sichuan food.”

Heck, nearby you can get Cantonese at Congee Village or Hop Kee, and for Sichuan try Old Sichuan on Bayard Street.

Here, while they try to use as many seasonal and local ingredients as possible, the cuisine remains solely Yunnan. Says Chef Post: “These are very pure flavors, not fusion food,” says Post. “It makes me so crazy when I see harissa in Thai curry.” For Chou, who grew up in North Carolina, food played a strong roll in her childhood, which pushed her to where she is today. "Food is such a big part of my culture and my family,” she says. “I remember walking around the aquarium when I was a little girl and my mom and grandma were talking, thankfully in Chinese, about how to cook each fish.”

Before she opened Yunnan Kitchen, Chou worked at the Standard Grill, where she started as a bus girl and eventually moved up the ladder to manager. When she decided to go the restaurateur route, Chou chose the Lower East Side and the long abandoned 99-cent store to house her project. She found Post on Craigslist and opened in beginning of May this year.

Unlike San Francisco’s much lauded Mission Chinese Food, which serves "Americanized Oriental Food," Yunnan Kitchen’s mission is purity and, in that, it is Mission Accomplished.

Itinerary: Halloween Parties Begin Tonight

Technically, Halloween festivities fired up as early as last week, but New Yorkers really get down to business tonight, extending their weekend via The Bunker Club, or The Gutter, and rolling through the weekend with 1Oak, the Boom Boom Room, and the Hudson Hotel, with some lovely Brooklyn markets and parade options thrown in the mix. Enjoy one of the best weekends in NYC, and remember: next year, Halloween will fall on a Monday.

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Tonight Yelloween Location: The Bunker Club Time: 9pm Veuve Clicquot is hosting their “Yelloween” Halloween party this Thursday night at one of our favorites in the MePa.

Launch Party for the Renaissance Hotel’s RLife LIVE Location: Renaissance Hotel Time: 9pm The Renaissance Hotel is launching a new entertainment/cultural program called RLife LIVE and will feature performances from various RLife LIVE artists including Robin Thicke, Sam Ronson and Solange Knowles. It’s a free national program created for hotel guests and patrons in cities across the country, which allows them to experience the music industry on a more intimate level on site at Renaissance properties.

Scott Sartiano’s Birthday Party Location: 1Oak Time: The usual time parties at clubs start. DJs Jus-Ske and Harley&Cassie help Scott celebrate.

Friday HallowMeme Costume Party Location: The Gutter Time: 8:00pm-2:00am Join Know Your Meme & Urlesque for the 2nd Annual HallowMeme Costume Party. Dress like your favorite meme, viral video subject or other Internet phenomenon. There’ll be free drinks, live performances, giveaways, a photobooth, and awesome prizes for the best costumes.

Saints & Sinners Location: De Santos Time: 10:00pm-2:00am Mandatory costumes with $40 open bar.

Saturday House of Horrors at Santos Location: Santos Party House Time: 9pm Guests include DJ Cobra Starship and Taryn Manning and Eddie the Gun.

Kinda Scary Halloween Party Location: Thompson LES, Shang Time: 9pm Rex Sortgatz hosts a costume party in which guests come as terrifying or spooky media and tech personalities. Prizes awarded for best costume.

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The Bowery Hotel Presents Ghosts of New York Location: The 2nd floor of the Bowery Hotel When: 11pm Celebrating Halloween and the world premiere of Nigh Home, a film by Gary Breslin. Join hosts Johnny Christ, Laura Cooper Brown, Brooke Geahan, Gary Breslin, and Brian DeGraw.

Day & Night present Seven Deadly Sins Time: 12pm-4pm Location: The Oak Room at the Plaza Start celebrating early with brunch at The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel with the Koch twins.

2nd Annual Haunted Candyland Halloween Location: Le Poisson Rouge Time:10:30pm-3am The Sky Group pairs specialty cocktails with specialty candy and a whole lot of crazy.

Heaven or Hell Party Location: RdV Time: 11pm-3am Jamie-Lynn Sigler hosts this good/evil bash.

GrandLife Halloween Party Location: Tribeca Grand Time: 10pm-4am Hosted by Timo Weiland, Carol Han, Steven Rojas and DJ sets by The Misshapes, Harley&Cassie, and matt + maia.

The Hudson Hotel Presents DJs Jus Ske & Jesse Marco Where: Hudson Hotel Time: 10pm Hosted by 4AM in Hudson Hall.

Library Bar Presents the Tequila Avion Lounge Location: Library Bar at Hudson Time: 10pm-2am Our very own Steve Lewis DJs with Paul Sevigny.

La Roux at Hudson Bar Location: Hudson Time: 10pm-12am 2 hour DJ set by La Roux.

Veuve Clicquot’s Nightmare on 13th St. Location: Bagatelle Time: 8pm Veuve Clicquot throws a their Halloween bash to start off the night right.

image Sunday Halloween Market at Kings County General Store Location: Kings County General Store (125 Fifth Ave. in Brooklyn) Time: 12pm-5pm The local market has drink specials and free admission to the afternoon fall festivities.

Angels and Devils party at The Standard Location: Boom Boom Room Andre Balazs, Andre Saraiva, Olivier Zahm host your good and your bad side at the party of the evening.

Not Your Standard Bingo Location: The Standard Grill Costumes, prizes pre-Boom Boom Room.

Village Halloween Parade Location: Spring Street at Sixth Ave running up to 21st on Sixth Time: 6:30pm-8:30pm The classic parade at dusk in the Village.