Yen ta fo, noodles (typically rice, but sometimes wheat noodles) served in a slightly sweet broth with fish-based dumplings, is one of the most popular dishes in Bangkok. Stalls selling yen ta fo are just about everywhere, and over the years I’ve noticed that many of them claim a link with Wat Khaek – the somewhat derogatory name given to the Hindu temple at the corner of Th Silom and Th Pan. Yen ta fo is Chinese in origin (I suspect it has links – at least linguistically – to yong tau foo), but the name-dropping suggests that the dish may have been introduced to Thai diners from a shop or stall near this temple.
Origin speculation aside, today there’s only a single yen ta fo restaurant near Wat Khaek. And although I don’t know if it’s the original of Bangkok-style yen ta fo restaurant, the aged interior and rustic bowls of noodles served here suggest that it’s been around for quite a while.
The yen ta fo here is good, but not exceptional. The broth, which is made from chicken:
is balanced but bland, and needed more than a bit of fish sauce and dried chili to liven it up. There were lots of veggies and fishy dumplings, both supplemented with crispy salted squid and cubes of blood. This being a classic version of a classic Bangkok dish, I expected it to be much sweeter, and actually missed the tinge of sweet and the punch of garlic of a truly outstanding vendor like Yen Ta Fo JC.
Even more than the yen ta fo, I enjoyed khanom jeen kaeng kai:
chicken curry served over fresh rice noodles. The former was pleasantly salty and spicy and was supplemented with eggplants, basil leaves and fresh chilies.
Yen Ta Fo Wat Khaek also serve a few other characteristically Bangkok-style Thai/Chinese dishes such as khaa muu, stewed pork leg and popia sot, fresh spring rolls.
Yen Ta Fo Wat Khaek
Th Pan, Bangkok
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