Accidents can happen

Beef tongue stew at Yong Lee

People can make mistakes. Take, for example, this Bangkok Post story , which shows that when you try to make a point (prices are under control guys, don’t panic), it could all end up backfiring in your face (oops! Turns out prices are, in fact, more than we thought), rendering everything you said before (the inflation rate for April is 2.47 percent) about as useful as Ros’s merkin on “Game of Thrones” (very few people will get that).

Bottom line: mistakes are made all the time. It sucks, but we can’t be perfect at everything, or people would hate us even more than they do now. And, yes, “Accidents Can Happen” has little to do with the theme of this post (winter is coming…I mean, mistakes can be made), but it is an Elvis Costello song, and hence makes everything I say from here on out instantly cool.

So I might be forgiven for mistaking Yong Lee, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant near the entrance to Sukhumvit 39, for Yui Lee, a made-to-order stall and khao soy emporium about 100 m down Sukhumvit 31 (not to mention the other Yong Lee on Sukhumvit 15 that serves an entirely different menu). These restaurants are close to each other, after all, and tomato to-mah-to (although who says to-mah-to?), you get my point.

The fact is, these places have very little in common with each other. While Yui Lee specializes in northern noodle dishes (khao soy and kanom jeen nam ngiew) and the made-to-order staples that form the bulk of every Thai’s favorite lunch (slivers of pork stir-fried with garlic and peppercorns atop a mound of rice; minced pork or chicken stir-fried with copious chili and holy basil, topped with a runny fried egg), Yong Lee offers a menu that is part of a dying breed. Like the for-sale 87-year-old institution known as Silom Pattakarn (which I wrote about here), Yong Lee serves “luxury Thai fusion”, circa 1950: Anglicized chicken curry; cornstarch-thickened “stews” of beef tongue or beef; a red sauce-coated pork chop strewn with sweet peas; well-done bits of beefsteak garnished with a tart-sweet salad; and, best of all, its particular specialty, deep-fried slabs of fish coated in a bewitchingly garlicky syrup and stir-fried with peppercorns (@DwightTurner had two orders!)

The atmosphere is charmingly retro, the clientele reassuringly sedate. Food is out in a jiffy, while service is laid-back and pleasant. There is even a tiny air-conditioned room to the side with three tables for patrons who threaten to melt in the sweltering heat. There is very, very little not to like at this particular Yong Lee. Now, to make sure you don’t mistakenly go to another one:

Yong Lee (the less famous one)

10/4-5 Soi Phromphong Sukhumvit 39



Filed under Asia, Bangkok, fish, food, pork, restaurant, Thailand

9 responses to “Accidents can happen

  1. Pingback: Glutton Abroad: Tokyo drift, the sequel | Bangkok Glutton

  2. Joseph

    English people say to-mah-to.

  3. Pingback: A Menu of Culinary Passion at Bangkok's Yong Lee Restaurant (Sukhumvit 39) | Thai Street Food and Pictures | Eating Thai Food

  4. Pingback: Bkkfatty Diary Day 3: Old Fashioned Yong Lee and Craze’s Futuristic Wine Buffet | Thai Street Food and Pictures | Eating Thai Food

  5. Anasuya

    I love love love that mix of of stodgy Euro cuisine for Asian palates. My Calcutta DNA is showing, no?

    • Haha, I love it too, and I’ve never been to Calcutta!

    • gautam

      They apparently serve Bhetki macch [pla kapong kao] in a great sauce, in a culinary universe rife with fish that are asuya incarnate: shol, shaal and magur. Those “slabs” mentioned by Glutton are Bhetki maccher fry. So, the next time you are in BKK……

  6. 1950s luxury Thai fusion? Great description.

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