Few soups are more colorful than Thailand’s famous yen ta fo. The pinkish-red pickled bean curd (tofu), together with the ingredients makes it the sexiest dish in the country. Experiencing a yen ta fo as served at Jay Jia Yen Ta Fo, close to MRT Sam Yan Station (Metro), can give you an almost tingling feeling. I just love this “seafood dumpling soup”.
Most tourists shy away from the dish, unfortunately for them, as it involves some delightful flavors. Personally, I’m always on the look for new stalls or holes in the wall that might dish up this lovely pink treasure when strolling the streets of Bangkok. Sometimes it’s the cuing that makes me curios, or it’s the interior that tells a story of a long time servant – speaking for quality, or maybe just a couple of older Thai’s enjoying their meal outside the premium eating hours of the day. Sometimes it’s a clear miss, nothing to write home about, but once and a while I do dump into something with a character on it’s own, like when sitting down at the 40 year old establishment Jay Jia Yen Ta Fo on the corner of Rama IV and Soi Chom Sombun in the Sam Yan area.
Like many other Thai dishes, yen ta fo takes inspiration from China before it’s transformed into something new. It’s a dish recognized by women and men, young and old. It has a great variety in flavors, without crashing. For this noodle dish I normally order sen lek noodles, the one on the main pic of this article. Broader noodles, sen yai, is also quite common. Others prefer the tiny almost hair like noodles, but personally I find them annoying on the tongue. In other words, the options are plentiful for this dish, from rice noodles to egg noodles, dry or with soup, with or without fried wonton, and you can order some shrimp balls on the side if you want. You get it the way you like it, of course, it’s noodles we are talking about.
The make or break for this dish, like for most noodle dishes, is the sauce/stock. A perfect yen ta fo broth is complex with a certain tartness in the taste. It should have a very mild sweetness to it as well. Many vendors falls in the pitfall of serving it too sweet.
The broth at Jay Jia Yen Ta Fo is almost perfectly seasoned. A few drops of fish sauce (think salt) was all the broth needed. The noodles are also really well made, rich and fragrant. Many vendors cook it just a bit to long, but not here. The fish ball is bouncy, meaning it would actually not splash, but bounce if you throw it hard enough against the floor. It has very little flour in the mixture. The shrimp balls are a favorite of mine here. But for me, also the fried tofu is important. Some vendors use not so high quality tofu, making them a bit dry and strange texture wise, but at Jay Jia Yen Ta Fo they use good quality tofu. Also the pickled (rubbery) squid is good, with a distinct taste, but not to strong in flavor.
The dumplings, the tofu, the sea spinach and all the other ingredients was of high quality. It really was on of the better Yen Ta Fo I’ve had in Bangkok, definitively into the top 10 list, which is really good when you know that the dish is sold all over town. I also got to taste their deep fried wontons with pork filling, which was very good as well. But as I was rather stuffed with three lunches under my belt this day, it will be more of them in my bowl when returning to Jae Yen Ta Fo. They also serve fried shrimp dumplings. The most popular dish is to order the yen ta fo with a bowl of wontons and shrimp dumplings. They also have a dry version with the broth on the side. The condiments on the table are there to be used. Personally I like to add a bit of chili and vinegar, but that is really up to your taste bud, as long as you don’t make it sweet.
It’s Walailak, the daughter of the founder, that runs the resto today, still using the old recipes passed on from her mother. Jay Jia Yen Ta Fo is a rather big place, with tables outside and inside, so unless you show up prime-time lunch you shouldn’t experience any cuing.
Name: Jay Jia Yen Ta Fo (sometimes written Jae Jia Yen Ta Fo, or even Yen Ta Fo Che Chia). The spelling confusion comes from translating the Thai alphabet. They have 44 consonants, 15 vowel symbols that combines into at least 28 vowel forms, and four tone diacritics. The Latin alphabet only has 24 characters.
Food: Yen Ta Fo
Open: As I lost my notes, I don’t have exact timing, but it is a typical breakfast and lunch spot.
Phone: 02-266 3965
Price: 40-50 Bath
Address: 598 Soi Chom Sombun (corner of Rama 4 Road). The streetname is sometimes also written Soi Chom Som Boon, but Sombun is just by google map.
How to get there: The easiest way to get there is to take the MRT (Metro) to Sam Yan station and walk from there. You find it on a corner, just opposite of the Shell Gas Station on the other side of the big Rama IV road. The exit from the MRT is on the wrong side of Rama IV, but if you walk in the direction of Hua Lamphong Metro station and also Bangkok Railway station, you can cross to the other side by a walking bridge. When crossing you have less than 100 meters to get there. The nearest BTS (Skytrain) is BTS Sala Daeng Station. Thats another 300 meters to walk compared to the Sam Yam Metro station.
Cultural Corner – Bangkok Railway Station
Bangkok Railway Station, also known as Hua Lamphong Station, is on the doorstep of Hua Lamphong Metro station. Thats the next station after Sam Yan station and in walkable distance (5-600 meters) from Jay Jia Yen Ta Fo above. The station is officially referred to by the State Railway of Thailand as Krungthep Station in Thai. Krungthep is the common name in Thai for Bangkok. Be aware that all documents published by the State Railway of Thailand (such as train tickets, timetables, and tour pamphlets) the station is uniformly transcribed as Krungthep.
It took 6 years to construct the station and it opened on June 25, 1916. Before the construction, the site was occupied by the national railway’s maintenance centre, which moved to Makkasan in June 1910. At the nearby site of the previous railway station a pillar commemorates the inauguration of the Thai railway network in 1897.
More importantly, the station is built in an Italian Neo-Renaissance-style, and has decorated wooden roofs and stained glass windows. The architecture is attributed to Turin-born Mario Tamagno. Together with Annibale Rigotti (1870–1968), they are also responsible for the design of several other early 20th century public buildings in Bangkok. The pair designed Bang Khun Prom Palace (1906), Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in the Royal Plaza (1907–15) and Suan Kularb Residential Hall and Throne Hall in Dusit Garden, are some of the examples.
The station has 14 platforms and two electric display boards. It serves more than 130 trains and approximately 60,000 passengers each day. The station was connected by with the subway system and Hua Lamphong Metro Station in 2004. The station is also a terminus of the Eastern and Oriental Express luxury trains.