The simple and modest Yong Lee restaurant in Phrom Phong is a great little Bangkok eatery to sample some hearty, local Thai cuisine with a Chinese twist.
Eating locally in Bangkok
In the typical Thai eatery fashion, Yong Lee has an open shop-front peering out onto the street past a jungle of tropical potted plants. The inside is simple and humble in layout: a scattering of plastic chairs, worn wooden tables and old fashioned floor tiling from way back in the 60s. The restaurant has obviously been popular for a long time; apparently established in 1944 according to one of the many browning newspaper cuttings framed proudly on the inners walls.
I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty grubby inside – browning food splatters decorate the walls like badges of honour, and a thick covering of dust lines the shelves and their neglected knick knacks. However, just like the ‘Greasy Spoon’ cafes in England, the grubby ones always come through with some of the best food – good old greasy fry ups! I don’t know what the equivalent to a Greasy Spoon would be in other parts of the world… greasy diners in America?
Anyway, I digress, my point is that Yong Lee is pretty grubby, BUT it’s also authentically Thai in the same way that a greasy spoon is authentically British!
Thai-Chinese cuisine at Yong Lee
Yong Lee serves a choice of wholesome, simple food in a traditional, family run, independent Thai restaurant. The owners are of Thai-Chinese descendant and speak a little English as well as Thai and Chinese. The menus have been well-used and tattered over the years – a good sign of a typically popular Thai restaurant. Menus are conveniently written in both Thai and Chinese with pictures on the specials menu too.
Dishes at Yong Lee are a little pricier than standard Thai street food prices but still pretty reasonable – Most standard meals cost between 90 and 140 baht on average. You’ll find a variety of traditional Thai dishes such as Tom Yam and fried cashew nut chicken, as well as more adventurous Chinese style dishes such as beef tongue soup, steamed bass in plum sauce, and fried pork bowels. Mmm fried pork bowel.
How to get to Yong Lee Restaurant
Yong Lee is located just a couple of minutes walk from BTS Phrom Phong station. If coming via BTS, use exit 3 and enter Sukhumvit Soi 39. Cross onto the right hand side of the road and you’ll find Yong Lee’s on the main road after about 200 metres. It’s kind of hidden behind overgrown, potted plants so just look out for the entrance of the brand new, posh looking ‘Gallerie Apartments’ next door.