Yentafo Kruengsonge at Cineleisure originated in Bangkok in 1999; currently there are 28 outlets in Bangkok, and 2 in Laos. Cineleisure houses the first Singapore outlet and two more will soon follow.
“Yen ta fo”–read it out loud–is a dish similar to the yong tou foo we eat except for two parts. They use (1) flat wide rice noodles, like our kway chap rice noodles, in a (2) pink broth.
Both the rice noodles and the pink soup are imported directly from Thailand. Although toppings are sourced in Singapore, the Thai founders have personally come here to try many suppliers, choosing the ones most similar to Bangkok’s.
The soup is unlike our yong tou foo’s sweet broth, because there is no soya bean in the soup. The savory Thai broth is made by simmering pork bone, radish, and coriander root. It is then tinged with a pink sauce made from fermented red tofu and Thai red rice.
The menu, though small, gives options of both rice and noodle dishes. Their specialty, yentafo, comes in two sizes: yentafo kruengsonge (9 toppings, $8.50) and yentafo (5 toppings, $6.50). You can then choose between dry or soup. And then choose the spice level: dek-dek (not spicy), jai-soh (spicy), and rod-jeb (screaming spicy).
We suggest this combination: Kruengsonge soup jai-soh. The soup adds a depth that the dry version lacks. They didn’t tone down the chilli for Singapore and the chilli is damn shiok; The non-spicy one lacks kick.
There are three things that can be improved: the rice noodles stick together and I thought they could give more noodles; and lastly, due to Singapore regulations, they replace pig’s blood with grass jelly. The sweet substitution is weird for us.
What receives good reviews all round the table is the original Thai tom yum noodles ($9). It stole the show with its unique and unusually piquant broth, more citrusy than other tom yum. If you’re with a friend, I recommend that you order a yentafo kruengsonge and a tom yum to share.
For rice dishes, the nam prik khai poo ($9) comes with fresh and cooked vegetables with a sweet, sour, spicy, curry crab dip. We prefer the gai pad krapow ($8.50), which is a super, super fiery basil chicken. It was so hot that Mr Fitness’s face turned red and he sweated profusely after a single bite. Those who can take spicy food should challenge yourself, it will be very shiok.
We tried 3 sides–kratong tong (minced chicken in pastry shell, 6pcs, $5), kao tung rice crisp (4 pcs, $6), and salmon skin ($7)–and we recommend the salmon skin. When you mix the super spicy yum sauce–“yum” is the name of the sauce–over the skin, you can hear the crackling as the skin absorbs the sauce. It still remains crispy. Very addictive.
The traditional Thai desserts served are unusual in Singapore, and may take some getting used to. Santol sweety delight ($5) is made by simmering the fruit, santol, also known as cottonfruit. It has a strange texture which some may dislike; it’s mushy and cottony on top, firm like persimmon at the base. It tastes a little like sour plum.
The Nam-wa banana in coconut milk ($5) uses Nam-wa banana grown in central and north-eastern Thailand. Like santol, the texture takes some acculturating; the banana is coarse, not smooth like the ones we eat.
There are two things that Yentafo Kruengsonge does admirably. One, they deliver authentic Thai food unadulterated, not adjusting it to suit local palates, not dumbing down the spice level. Ok, challenge accepted. Go big or go home, right? Secondly, the items are priced very reasonably.
8 Grange Road #02-06A/B, Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, Singapore 239695
T: +65 6736 0971
Service: NA (self-service)
Ambience/Decor: 5.5/10 (open concept, noisy)
Overall rating: 3.292/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.