Gathering Clouds

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Yunnan
381 Panyu Lu

A few months on from opening and Xingfu Li, the pedestrianised complex that hosts savoury pie shop Pie Society, audio-visual Japanese restaurant Anthologia and chilled out café Lazie is starting to come into its own. One of the latest entrants to the smart development is upmarket Yunnanese eatery Gathering Clouds (醉美云聚).

From Yunnanese owners who used to work at Lost Heaven, the large space features an attractive modern interior and a covetable outdoor courtyard and balcony. The elegant environs help justify the elevated price tags on paper, and thankfully, the food also mostly lives up to expectations.

The menu – compared to other Yunnanese favourites like Lotus Eatery and Secret Haven – is compact, but includes numerous classics. From the appetisers, the Dali flavour fried milk (50RMB) is a great place to start, and although served with a sweet chilli sauce in lieu of the more traditional rose jam, the flakey, puffed up triangles of milk are tasty and filling. In a similar vein, the rose flower cakes (40RMB) are plump and satisfying (albeit a touch soggy) with a light pastry casing and a not-too- sweet rose filling.

From among the poultry offerings, the Dali tribe chicken (78RMB) plates up a pile of slender strips of succulent meat, cooked in a light ‘seven spice’ dressing; the mix has a fragrant and spicy zing.

Offering a similar spice kick is the roasted beef (68RMB). The tender pieces of meat arrive on a banana leaf – more for show than traditional cooking technique – and melt in the mouth in a blaze of citrus and chilli. It’s crazy delicious.

If you’re after some textural diversity, opt for the Pu’er fried pork ribs (76RMB). Although we were expecting the meat to arrive topped with tea leaves, it’s actually a popular dish from Pu’er the city, and instead arrives topped with stringy slices of lemongrass. The pork itself is chewy but flavoursome, and if you don’t mind navigating around the bones, it’s worth the jaw workout.

At the higher end of the pricing scale is the Yunnan ham with matsutake mushrooms (120RMB). The fungi are highly sought after here, and often appear with a hefty price tag, but even so this dish feels expensive given the modest serving size. Although the small scattering of matsutake offers juicy and earthy bites when eaten alone, when combined with the peppers and the Yunnan ham, the flavour is dwarfed by an overall saltiness.

Friendly service, beautiful decor and carefully presented food make Gathering Clouds a welcome new addition to the city’s growing crowd of Yunnanese restaurants. It’s more expensive than many of its competitors (particularly the nearby Lotus Eatery), but it’s also ambitiously trying to take this cuisine more upmarket. In this increasingly buzzing part of Changning, we see Gathering Clouds doing well for lunches and dinners, particularly during the spring and summer months when the terrace will become a real asset.

Venue name: Gathering Clouds
Opening hours: 11am-11.30pm daily
Metro: Jiaotong University
English address: E105, 381 Panyu Lu, near Fahuazhen Lu, Changning district
Chinese address: 长宁区番禺路381号, 近法华镇路