May 17, 2011

Yee Wen Thai Restaurant: Rustic Thai Cuisine

My spicy and sour obsession always had me seeking out authentic Thai food for that oomph! My latest venture led me to another discrete industrial area near my house, Kepong. I may have lived here for almost four years but I only got to know of this place recently.

Yee Wen Thai Restaurant is manned by a Thai family who speaks Thai but minimal Chinese and barely other languages. Luckily, the owner owns enough to exchange words with its customers on the orders and such. With such authenticity, one can only expects rustic and rudimentary Thai cuisine in Yee Wen.

Minimal and almost bare décor, blasting Thai music and Thai speaking servers didn’t deter me at all. I was in search of that Thai oomph and one should not let such diminutive substance divert the main focal point of sampling rustic Thai cuisine at its best! J

My first visit warrants the essential infamous soup in every Thai meal. Clear Seafood Tom Yum Soup (RM20) was served in an urban claypot gently heated by charcoals beneath it. Lime and various herbs wharf through the air, cloyingly awakening my senses to a rustic meal to come.

The soup was laced with lots of cilantro, kaffir leaves, lemongrass and Thai basil. Deep diving into the soup, I found chunks of squids, prawns and fish, all craving for our undivided attention. The broth was full of fascinating flavors from its repertoire of seafood and herbs. Strongly sour and spicy, this is not for the faint hearted. Now this is my kind of Oomph that I crave in Thai cuisine. The citrus tang sums up this soup – Super Shiok!!

Instead of the usual pandan chicken, owner recommended Lemongrass Chicken Skewers (RM12). Minced chicken with garlic and herbs wrapped daintily around lemongrass and covered with fried onions and Thai basil was another unique dish. One bite and I discovered chicken chunks that were fragrant and savory. This dish makes a good snack for beer… J

I wanted a Thai salad but my partner wanted fish, hence we decided to order the Mango Kerabu with Deep Fried Siakap (RM38). I adored the mango kerabu. The innocent looking salad was full of fresh crunchy mango shreds, raw onions, lethal bird-eye chilis and chopped roasted peanuts. It was very sour and sweet at the same time. I could indulge in this zingy salad alone with a plate of rice. Fish was ok for me but it was really crispy till one can even eat the bones. The mango salad stole the show in this dish!

By this time, my mouth was already flared up from all the chilies but we wanted to take this a step further and we ordered a simple Thai Sambal with Vegetables (RM3). If you like heat and pungent aromas, this one takes the cake! Extreme heat, the sambal was laced with pungent fish sauce and garlic. The lightly blanched vegetables really boost up the fiery sambal. We polished this off with a burning sensation… hehehe! J

White Rice (RM1.20 per person) served in traditional Thai metal pot with intricate designs.

That night, it was sheer pleasure from all the rustic balance of spicy, sweet, salty and sour from our gorgeous Thai meal. Total bill rounded up to be RM79. Guess what? It was so memorable, we returned a few days later with friends… J

Second visit we had rounded up some of our makan friends so we could try more dishes. This time, we asked the owners for more unique recommendations and he happily obliged.

At first, I was hesitant to try the Raw Prawn Kerabu (RM18) because of the raw prawns. However, my friend kept raving about this so I gave in, took a deep breath and took a bite of the prawn with salad. Gosh, this one took my breath away… sweet fresh prawns had a gelatinous texture and was doused in a spicy and sour dressing. Loaded with bits of garlic and chilies, this was surprisingly refreshing and delicious!

The thrill of the heat and sourness really perks up the prawns and the crunchy raw shredded cabbage was addictive. No further encouragement needed, I devoured this salad with my rice in pleasure. Brave this one and give it a try, you’ll be surprised! (unless you don’t take raw food)

Deep Fried Crispy Lemongrass Chicken (RM20) did not look appealing at all but I have to eat my own words again. This was full of spices and the chicken was fried till crisp and darkly fragrant. The whole chicken pieces were so crunchy till we could eat the bones as well. The bit of crisp lemongrass was also edible and one of my friends kept searching for the lemongrass to eat! I was happy to note that the pungent and strong Thai sambal was served with this chicken. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about this being addictive!

Pale olive green speckled with hues of purple and deep green was the sight of our Green Chicken Curry (RM20). Meaty pieces of dark chicken meat and soft eggplant pieces were accompanied with lots of Thai basil and chilies. I like my curries thick hence this was a bit thin for me. Taste was average but no faults on this either.

Steamed Lemon Red Snapper (RM35) came in a bubbling lemon soup that was loaded with garlic, bird-eye chilies and coriander. Another middling dish if I may say so. It was sour and spicy but I felt something was missing. The fish was fresh and decent sized for that price.

I had to pre-order the Seafood Otak Otak (RM 20) as it was not available during my first visit. After the last two average dish, I was glad this one was another hit. Creamy and choke full of seafood, this mousse was full of spices, lending the lusciousness to the dish. Although it looks red, this is not spicy at all. I love that this was served in a coconut shell to lend it a coconut fragrance. During the first visit, they ran out of coconuts, hence the chef would not make this. Kudos to the chef for ensuring the quality of the dish!

Despite being full, we eyed plates of fish cakes coming out of the kitchen to other tables… hehehe! With our low resistance level, we put in an order for Thai Fish Cakes (RM2.50 each). Oh boy… no regrets because the fish cakes were big and bouncy. Full of fluffy fish paste studded with chopped long beans and spices, this is a gorgeous fish cake! This fish cake is going to be my benchmark for others from now on… Must order!!

We had to have the Clear Seafood Tom Yum (RM20) again of course! Good consistency as it was every bit as good as my first visit.

Total meal of seven dishes cost RM155.70 for five people with white rice and Chinese tea. Considering we ordered all meat and seafood dishes, the price was very reasonable. Portions were big and ingredients were plenty for its price.

All the dishes here pack a powerful punch in flavors. If you like strong flavors of spicy and sour, this is the place for you. The food here is rustic, unpretentious, and authentic. The owner’s wife whips up all the dishes herself and is very generous in using lots of herbs and spices to boost up the dishes.

Although my mouth was numb from the spicy and sour dishes, I was deliriously satiated by both meals! Yee Wen Thai has been around for more than five years and people do seem to find their way here. The allure in Yee Wen is certainly in the dishes they serve!  

Definately Not for the faint hearted… J

Yee Wen Thai Food
Lot 01-3813, Jalan Helang Merah
Kepong Baru Industrial Estate
52100, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 016 272 8223 / 016 625 2018
Hours: After 10.00 am to 10.00pm
*Cash term only


  1. thanks for the intro to this place!! inspiring white tom yum!

  2. wah...drooling not stop....must go after all my ulcers in my mouth gone!!

  3. BBO: Welcome..

    CY: yeah.. quite near yr place.. super shiok!

  4. wah.. Old Post but the taste is still there! Feel sour and spicy now!

  5. I went there once. As it was quite late, most of the food finished already esp the vege. So had to settle for the remaining ones. And also a lot of mosquitoes at night.

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