There's a touching, often-told, and probably apocryphal story — you can look it up for yourself — about the origin of the name guo qiao mi xian, "crossing the bridge noodles."
The most famous dish of Yunnan province resembles a hot pot. When served, the all-important bowl of chicken stock is no longer on the boil, but it cooks the add-ins (available in a half-dozen combinations, $6.50 to $7.50) in a few minutes. My basic combo included chicken, fish, egg, carrot, cauliflower, and wood ear mushrooms, plus at least a pint of rice noodles.
Neither a positive frame of mind nor a dash of chili oil — other garnishes were absent — did much to counter the blandness, sorry to say. I'd never tried crossing-the-bridge noodles, and perhaps I'm comparing this dish unfairly to a more vibrant bowl of rice noodles in hot and sour soup (below, $6). It's a vegetarian option from the short "spicy rice noodle" section of the menu; beef and chicken variations are also available. These dishes, and the sharable "spicy griddle-cooked" bowls of vegetables, meat, and seafood, may play more to the strengths of the chef, who comes from the provincial capital, Kunming. Have a look at his house spice mix (bottom).
Moments after I sat down with my hot and sour soup, a fellow customer asked who'd made it. I counted this a good sign, as if encouragement were needed; it tasted as good as it looks.
Yun Nan Guo Qiao Rice Noodles
New World Mall Food Court, stall 3
136-20 Roosevelt Ave. (Main-Union Sts.), Flushing, Queens