Yentafo Kruengsonge : Bangkok's Famous "Yen Ta Fo" Noodle House opens in Singapore

"Can you handle the heat?"

It has been 8 long years since my last visit to Bangkok. If you ask me, I think it's about time to go back for a return visit given that Singapore is slightly closer to Bangkok as compared to flying out from Manila. Not only that, I'm sure there have been a lot of changes since our last trip and by that I'm pertaining to more restaurant and food places to discover. Here's making a mental note to plan for a quick weekend getaway to Bangkok sometime next year.

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Well, since I can't go to Bangkok just yet... let Bangkok come to me for now. A few weeks ago, I got to visit the newly opened Yentafo Kruengsonge at Cathay Cineleisure in Orchard. I got a bit disoriented trying to locate the restaurant as it apparently took the place of Shokudo at the 2nd level of the cinema building. Yentafo Kruengsonge is actually a very popular noodle house in Bangkok that specializes in yen ta fo noodle bowls which is a Thai noodle dish filled with a mix of ingredients such as seafood balls, strips of meat and veggies. It's very similar to the Singaporean Yong Tau Foo which also has about 7-8 toppings per bowl. However, that's the only similarity between the two.

What makes Yentafo's noodles so special is its light pink color which I promise you is not made from artificial coloring. I found out that the pink sauce that colors the noodles is made from fermented red tofu and Thai red rice. That's all natural color, for you! Take the Yentafo Kruengsonge Soup (S$8.50), the house specialty, for example. It's a huge bowl filled with 8 ingredients namely fish ball, squid ball, tofu fish ball, fried tofu, black fungus mushroom, fried taro, fried fish skin and veggies. The noodles used are the flat hofun-like noodles which is so silky and smooth to the bite. It can be a bit tricky to eat with a chopsticks though but with a bit of concentration and determination, I'm sure you'll be able to do it.

As you know, a lot of Thai food can be really spicy and this is what I've been trying to avoid as I have a really low spicy tolerance. It's a good thing that you can choose your desired level of heat here at Yentafo Kruengsonge from Dek-Dek (not spicy) to Rod-Jeb (screaming spicy). Our first bowl of noodles was not spicy and I really enjoyed the slightly sweet flavor brought about by the pink sauce. So good!

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If you want a bit more heat, try the Original Thai Tom Yum Noodles (S$9) in both soup and dry versions. The soup version had a nice spicy-citrusy taste profile which would give a very comforting feel especially on a rainy day. Similar to the Yentafo Kruengsonge, it's topped with the same amount of ingredients too. Can you see those tiny bits of chili swimming in the soup? They're surely taking the spicy game seriously here.

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We also tried the Dry Thai Tom Yum Noodles and I liked this more as the spiciness was a bit toned down due to the absence of the soup. Yum!

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To go with our bowls of noodles, they also have an impressive line up of appetizers. I love love love the Kao Tang Rice Crisps (S$6) which comes with a creamy and nutty homemade dip. I'm not sure exactly what it is about it but it's just the perfect combination of minced chicken meat, red curry paste and all the spices and herbs added in this that made it so irresistible. I'm not gonna lie. I think I've shamelessly emptied out the plate of rice crisps that was sitting right in front me. Oopsie!

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We also had the Kratong Tong  (S$5) which is a plate of deep-fried pastry shells filled with carrots, peas, corn and minced chicken. Unfortunately, it has 3 of the things I don't and can't eat so I can't really comment munch on this. It looks very pretty though and reminds me of our local kueh pai tee. Isn't it interesting to see very similar-looking dishes all over the Southeast Asian region?

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The Yum Crispy Salmon Skin is hands-down a potential crowd favorite. Who can't resist munching on these huge crispy salmon skin together with their homemade yum sauce. I noticed that a lot of the Thai dishes has the word "yum" in it. Apparently it means (correct me if I'm wrong) the perfect blend of sour and spicy flavors. It's pretty similar to the Japanese umami, if you ask me. Going back to the salmon skin, the dip has an abundant amount of shallots, minced chicken, chili and basil leaves. The best way to enjoy this is to get a spoonful on top of each skin and munch away.

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If you're every bit an Asian like me and you can't live without rice, then don't worry as Yentafo Kruengsonge has several rice dishes to choose from. There's the Nam Prik Khai Poo (S$9) -- a cup of white rice covered with sunny-side-up egg together with a sweet and sour crab meat dip which had a good spicy kick that will surely whet your appetite but not the kind that will scar you for life. The best way to enjoy this is to try the veggies that comes with it -- Thai baby eggplant, long beans and cabbage. Wish they can do a mild version as this is something that I feel I'll be able to enjoy less the heat.

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As for the Gai Pad Krapow (S$8.50), this is the famous Thai Basil Chicken with Rice dish that's present in most Thai restaurant all over the world. What sets this apart is the intense heat that it brings. I'm not kidding. I really tried to enjoy this but one spoonful was the farthest I got as it pretty much set my tongue and throat in flames. I looked closely and saw tiny bits of chili incorporated into the minced meat. I quickly raised the white flag on this one but foodie daredevils, please go ahead and try it. Don't let me down. ;)

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For dessert, we enjoyed the Santol Sweety Delight (S$5) -- a very refreshing, simple and yummy dessert! I loved the fresh santol slices served in a sweet syrup with crushed ice. I can't remember the last time I had Santol. I'm pretty sure it has been about 20 years ago. I enjoyed this dessert a lot and it was just perfect to soothe my poor burned tongue after all the spicy feast.

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Another dessert option is the Nam-Wa Banana in Coconut Milk with Sesame Seeds (S$5) which has a very acquired taste and texture as it's not the regular type of banana we'd get from the supermarket. The texture is courser than usual and it's also harder to bite into. It reminds me of the Filipino saba banana which also has a course and rough texture. Cooked in freshly-squeezed coconut cream, palm sugar and salt, it's a good dessert if you want something hot.

Excited to give this a try? Visit Yentafo Kruengsonge at 8 Grange Road, 02-06A/B, Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, S239695. 

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