We have Yong Tau Foo, the Thais have Yentafo. YTF!!!
With 28 outlets in Bangkok and 2 in Laos, established Bangkok 'Yen Ta Fo' noodle chain has now opened its 1st outpost in Singapore at Cathay Cineleisure Ochard.
It is named Yentafo Kruengsonge.
'Kruengsonge' refers to the selection of best ingredients in one big bowl which is what characterized the signature dish of 'yen ta fo', the ubiquitous Thai noodle dish with ingredients in a light savory broth with pink, mildly-sweet 'yen ta fo' sauce.
Haha pardon me for getting excited about the sauce that's in my favorite pink color.
But seriously, I was pretty curious about its taste and was in high anticipation of trying the noodle dish itself as I made my way to the Yentafo.
Locating the eatery was easy as the striking red hues greeted us immediately as we came up via the escalator to level two of the mall. It is fitted with custom furnishings to evoke the ambience of a casual street-side food shop in Bangkok.
Ordering is to be made at the counter from a concise menu selection of Appetizers, Noodle Specialties, Rice Dishes, Desserts and Drinks.
Kao Tang Rice Crisps ($6) and the kueh pie tee-like Kratong Tang ($5) with minced chicken filling marked a decent start, but it was the Yum Crispy Salmon Skin ($7) that made the most impression.
Right way to enjoy it is to pour the entire bowl of 'yum' sauce onto the salmon skin and give the combination a good toss. Flavors were spicy and robust while the thin salmon skin remained crunchy throughout.
It was so moreish and yummy, especially that 'yum' sauce! Our appetites were fired up!
Though the bowls of yen ta fo looked uncannily like our local yong tau foo dish, the main difference lies in the savory broth base that is prepared with pork bone, radish and coriander root. The added sauce made with fermented red tofu and cooked Thai red rice brightened it up with a naturally pinkish hue.
Whether our choice is for the Yentafo Kruengsonge Soup ($6.50/$8.50) or Dry ($6.50/$8.50) version, each bowl features flat, wide rice noodles paired with as much as over eight ingredient items including fish ball, squid ball, fish ball with tofu, fried tofu, fried seasoned taro, fungus mushroom and... wait!... it that pig's blood?
Nay, it's just chin chow or grass jelly masquerading as one. A kinda weird one.
What spiced up the entire combination literally was the chili. Similar to Thailand, customer have different levels of spiciness to choose from: Dek-Dek (not spicy), Jai-Soh (spicy) and Rod-Jeb (screaming spicy).
The Jai-Soh (spicy) level was perfect in providing that fiery kick without being too overpowering.
We also tried the highly delightful Original Thai Tom Yum Noodles Soup ($9). Rather than just having the usual spicy and sour tom yum taste, there was a refreshing citrusy tinge to it. Everyone at our table liked this rendition!
Noodles may be the main star at Yentafo, but there are a couple of rice dishes as well. Chicken Panang Curry with Rice ($8.50) and Nam Prik Khai Poo ($9) with spicy crab egg paste, vegetables, fried egg and rice can easily be considered crowd-pleasing options.
If you're up for a hot challenge, go go go for the Gai Pad Krapow ($8.50)! The basil minced basil chicken packed a loadful of flavors and be warned... it's spicy! It's terribly shiok, nose-sniffing, tears and sweat-inducing spicy!
The spiciness was not immediate but crept in slowly. Just when I thought I had it conquered, that intense blaze hit the senses like tsunami and lingered on. It's the type of pleasurable torture that we willingly endured as our spoons somehow couldn't stopping reaching towards the dish.
Thank God for the glasses of Thai Iced Milk Tea ($3.50) and Ice Lemongrass Drink ($3.50) to soothe our tongues.
I looked out for my favorite Thai desserts but found some pretty unusual offerings instead. Santol Sweety Delight ($6)? Nam-Wa Banana ($5)? Huh?
The Santol fruit has a persimmon-like texture and tasted like sour plum, while Nam-Wa bananas are specially imported from Thailand and cooked in freshly-squeezed coconut cream, palm sugar and salt. I prefer the former as it rested lighter on the tummy. The calorie-guilt felt lesser lol! Also, it was served chilled which worked great as a palate cleanser to end the meal on a refreshing note.
The fare at Yentafo Kruengsonge was simple yet very satisfying. Pricing is considered suitably affordable with no single item over $9.
I can see myself returning for more of the yen ta fo noodles.
Address: 8 Grange Road, #02-06A/B, Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, Singapore 239695
Contact: +65 6736 0971
Opening Hours: Daily 10am-10pm
Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Inclusive of 7% GST, no service charge (3) Correct at point of published date.