Lindsay and I (now that we have revealed our real names!) were in southeast Asia in 2010, traversing around the region after a short stop-off for an academic conference in Singapore. As loyal readers know, we are big advocates for street food and small, specialty restaurants that specialize in a few items. Without painting with too broad a brush, this style is classic southeast Asian food culture, and Bangkok is no exception.
Luckily, we made a friend. While doing some shopping and wandering around Wat Ratchabophit, we met Bee, a Bangkok native who had gone to school in North Carolina (we speak hardly any Thai, but she speaks perfect English). And she was eager to show us her favorite restaurant: Win Coffee, not far from her shop on Thanon Tanao. We’re actually not sure how to render the address, but they have a Google Plus page.
Win Coffee, though billed as a coffee place, had what Bee said was her favorite Yen Ta Foe in the city, a classic Thai dish made with lots of ingredients that, at least according to her, would make Americans cringe. Ingredients l fish balls, squid slices, and coagulated blood are put in a soup flavored with chilis, fish sauce, and fermented soybean paste, and topped with crispy chips like the casing for Crab Rangoon. Eatingthaifood.com has a great description of Yen Ta Foe if you would like more detail. Though Bee suggested the dish, in Thai, to the owner, I heard the owner say back to her something about a farang – the Thai word for a foreigner.
If there’s any point we try to make on this blog, it’s that you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. And for me in particular, the more a local person tells me I won’t like something, the more I want to try it. And I loved the Yen Ta Foe (ordered extra Thai spicy, of course). Bangkok street food provides a thrilling mix of textures and flavors, unlocking palettes that other regional cuisines don’t. Yen Ta Foe is great at this – it’s an exciting mix of textures and flavors, and I loved it. While Win Coffee is well off the standard Bangkok tourist trail, we would encourage visitors to explore these lesser-known areas of town. Any small place that is open is going to make you happy, and Win Coffee definitely did.
On a sidenote, Bee was supposed to facebook us after we parted ways (and after she so graciously paid for our food), but we never connected. Bee, if you stumble upon this, send us an email! We’d love to head back to Thailand and try more food with you.