Yong He Dou Jiang – Taiwanese restaurant review
Yong He Dou Jiang. Or, ‘the dumpling place’ as our culturally illiterate brains have dubbed it, being unable to remember Yong He Dou Jiang correctly.
At the (admittedly small) risk of this turning into a restaurant review blog, it’s sometimes nice to write about food. Especially food from Yong He Dou Jiang – a venerable Taiwanese shophouse restaurant tucked in the bustle of Chong Nonsi.
When thinking about great food in Bangkok, Taiwanese dumplings probably aren’t high on the list of things that spring to mind. Yong He Dou Jiang will change that.
What I’ve come to realise about Thai food is that setting is all important. In scientific tests, we’ve found that food is up to three times tastier when served in a faded, shabby and slightly peeling environs than in anything resembling an actual restaurant.
Yong He Dou Jiang falls headfirst into the faded, peeling and shabby box, and is all the better for it.
It’s obviously popular. We’ve been on several occasions noon and night, and it’s consistently rammed across three creaking storeys.
Stressed-looking staff run the narrow staircases with huge stacks of steaming baskets. In the kitchen on the ground floor, approximately nine thousand chefs boil, stir fry, mix and serve things.
Particularly fun is watching the noodles being prepared; strung into a long, elastic cat’s cradle before dunked into hot water.
We are suckers for dumplings. Excluding the stodgy horror balls found on a classic British casserole, I’m yet to meet a dumpling I haven’t liked.
We came to Yong He Dou Jiang for the Xiaolongbao. These hat shaped little beauties are both delicious and dangerous, adding a frisson of excitement to proceedings. A ball of filling, usually pork, crab or a mix, is wrapped in a layer of what can only be described as jelly, then in a dumpling wrapper. When the dumplings are cooked, the jelly turns to a rich broth contained within the dumpling.
You then get to enjoy a dumpling filled with superheated soup, which will inevitably go everywhere on your first try. The trick is to pierce the dumpling with a chopstick into your spoon to avoid death by hot soup.
Kudos to whichever maniac dreamed them up. At Yong He Dou Jiang, the plump little monsters are wonderful (and hot, so very hot).
As well as xiaolongbao, Yong He Dou Jiang serves a good line in other dumplings. Check out the dry fried pork dumplings for a treat served on a crispy sheet of batter.
What surprised – and indeed delighted – us at Yong He Dou Jiang was the non-dumpling offering.
A ‘Chinese pork pie’ arrived (their words) which would have been celebrated in Melton Mowbray. Similar to a British pork pie with some subtle spicing and a slightly softer consistency. It may have contained a lifetime of fat but was totally worth it.
A beef pancake (me either) was equally excellent; thin slices of cooked beef rolled in a crunchy, blistered pancake stuffed with meat, cucumber and sauces.
Possibly best of all was a mutton or beef noodle soup packed with those fresh noodles from downstairs. The meat and broth had clearly got to know each other over quite some time and were a strong team as a result. The pictures hardly do justice as we’d already ploughed through half the soup before bothering with photos.
We got nowhere near finishing. The portions are huge so order carefully. That said the beef pancake was still feeding us with distinction the next day, so if you’re a fan of leftovers this could be for you.
Cost-wise, expect to spend anything from 250 THB to 500 THB per person (about 5-10 GBP), something of a blowout in Bangkok terms.
However, it’s totally worth it if you’re anywhere nearby in Silom or Sathorn.
For a memorable feed in Bangkok, Yong He Dou Jiang is a winner!