Yen Ta Fo Wat Keak (เย็นตาโฟวัดแขก) and the green Singapore Pan Cakes are two of my must-haves in Silom whenever I have the chance to visit Bangkok. These are two items that are not easily available outside of Thailand, so I was really ecstatic when an Yen Ta Fo eatery finally opened on Tuesday. Afterall, it is timely to introduce this dish since Singaporeans constitutes the eighth most in-bound visitors to the Land of Smiles.
Yentafo Kruengsonge’s first Singapore outlet outside of Thailand and Laos at Cineleisure Orchard brought much joy to Thais and fans of Thai cuisine like me. To the uninitiated, Yen Ta Fo shares the same roots as our Yong Tau Foo in its original form, the pork dumplings. The dumplings also known as Shui-Jiao which we still see today evolved to become a variety of vegetables stuffed with minced fish as the Hakka Northerners were driven south where there is an abundance of seafood and fresh vegetables.
In Singapore’s Yong Tau Foo, the fermented red bean paste is added to our dry noodles or as an accompanying dip for the Yong Tau Foo items in anchovy soup, while a similar pink bean paste in Thai’s version, made with fermented red tofu and cooked Thai red rice is added to the soup made by simmering pork bone, radish and coriander root. Due to the influence of the majority Thai Teochew Chinese, the Kway Teow is added to the bowl to make a well nutritious meal.
Over at Yentafo Kruengsonge, their thick fat Kway Teow are specially made at a Thai factory, so expect a more chewy texture than what we are used to. Both the Yentafo Kruengsonge Soup and Dry versions ($8.50 each) are offered, with three levels of spiciness to choose from. The ubiquitous pig blood cube in Thai’s version has also been ingeniously replaced by grass jelly due to AVA’s regulations. So this is as close as it gets to the real McCoy. I tried both versions which came with the same fish ball, squid ball, fish ball with tofu, fried tofu, fried seasoned taro and black fungus mushroom. They were equally good. While the soup version provides a much authentic experience, the dry version allows the diner to better savour the delicious pink sauce and rather addictive chilli.
Besides the star dishes, I took a liking to the Kratong Tong- deep fried pastry shells filled with minced chicken, carrot, peas, and corn punctuated with the aromatics of coriander root ($5 for 6 pieces), the Kao Tung Rice Crisps with spicy red curry minced chicken dip ($6 for 4 pieces) and the Yum Crispy Salmon Skin served with Yum sauce ($6). They were not the usual boring appetisers but with excellent Thai culinary composition, you get unexpected spice or fragrance engulfing your palette from all over the places, which was really enjoyable.
To those looking for rice dishes I thought the Isaan-ish Nam Prik Khai Poo ($9) which comprises a spicy, sweet and sour crab dip made with fresh crab meat was an absolute delight. An egg yolk was added to lend flavours to the spicy creamy dip. Raw vegetables like the long beans, Thai baby egg plant and cabbage accompany the dip while a crispy golden brown egg omelette shelters the rice. The portion for this was also generous I might order this to share at my next visit.
The Gai Pad Krapow ($8.50) was among the spiciest version I have tried to date. Thai basil was nicely fried with minced chicken alongside very potent chili to create a balanced mix before hot Thai Jasmine rice and a soft boiled egg added to complete the plate. If only I could have the option of having an oily fried sunny side-up this would have been perfect!
Sadly, I did not like both desserts, the Santol Sweety Delight ($5) and Nam-Wa Banana in Coconut Milk with Sesame Seeds ($5). While both were unusual Thai desserts (usually Thai desserts in Singapore meant mango sticky rice or red ruby), the former made with cottonfruit soaked in syrup was a tad too sweet while the latter made with Thai Nam-Wa bananas was too sour, especially since we Singaporeans are too used to eating Banana Pengat made with Pisang Rajah.
However, the Black Beans in Coconut Milk with Sweet Sticky Rice ($5) which we did not try seems more promising.
Still it was a rather Aroy Mak Mak meal. Though Yen Ta Fo Kruengsonge can never replace Yen Ta Fo Wat Keak, this is by far the best Yen Ta Fo I have tried in a while.
The above article is written by co-editor @ramenking2016. You can find him on instagram where he shares his love for food and travel.
6 Grange Road, #02-06A/B Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, Singapore 239695
Tel: +65 6736 0971
Operating Hours: 10am to 10pm