4.252 Yum Woon Sen

Cycle 4 – Item 252

14 (Sat) September 2013

Yum Woon Sen


at Taste of Thailand

-Itaewon, Yongsan, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with W, MtG, CJH + KKH, CSW, HCY + HSE, LHS + YYH, YI

Taste of Thailand is a Thai restaurant.   Run by a Thai national, with Thai cooks in the kitchen, the restaurant has long been renowned for its authenticity, one of the expat community’s favorite destinations for Thai cuisine in the city.  All the classic dishes, nothing too fancy.  Decent prices, most dishes under 20,000 won (rumor has it that a cash discount is offered).

Located on Gyeonglidan, the first building at the westside entrance to the alley.

A popular hangout destination, Gyeonglidan is a winding alley connecting the Haebangchon neighborhood at ground level to the west and the Grand Hyatt Hotel on the hilltop to the east.  In contrast to Itaewon’s thoroughly gentrified main drag, Gyeonglidan was, up until recently, the grungier alternative, the playground for young expats living in the area.  As such, the foreign restaurants there tended towards the authentic, none of the dumbing down associated with establishments catering to the mainstream.  But then, within the past couple years, Gyeonglidan too started to clean up.  Now dotted with tiny boutique cafés and bars and eateries, it’s become a hotspot for hipster young Koreans.  Time will tell whether the food, especially at the places that have been around since before the gentrification, continues to follow the old ways (good) or goes new (bad).

The occasion was MtG’s and HY’s birthdays, both in mid-September.

Yum Woon Sen is a Thai dish.  Consists of glass noodles, topped with ground meat and/or seafood, mixed with sliced onion, carrots, lettuce, and chili powder in a spicy lime dressing.

In light of my diet, I mostly ate the salad.  It was okay, I seem to recall.

Pad Thai (2.5)

Generally, the food seemed to live up to the hype.  However, amidst the chaos of such a large group and platters coming in waves and being quickly passed around, I wasn’t really able to concentrate.  Some of the dishes never even made it my way.  But I was generally very happy with the meal, especially after subsisting on chicken breasts for the past 9 days.  While everyone else expressed their overall satisfaction, they complained about how salty everything was, and the lack of pickles, which I took to be positive signs that the preparation and service have remained authentic.  Ironically, when I first heard about the place, I didn’t believe that a business with such a silly/literal name could possibly live up to the promise of such a name.  I’ll have to go back under better circumstances to confirm.

Sang Som Thai “Whisky”: 20,000 won for a 300-ml bottle; it tastes like the fake Scotch whisky served in disreputable bars here, made from distilled grains with artificial flavoring/coloring; I drank lots of this on our honeymoon, which coincidentally began in Bangkok exactly 7 years ago today.

My cousin KW, who is a professional trainer, told me that Saturday is International Cheat Day.  On his recent visit here, I witnessed the concept in action as he and his colleagues – all Cross Fit trainers in town to teach a series of seminars -each downed a pint of ice cream for dessert after dinner.  I can’t argue with that kind of expertise and experience.  Then again, those guys, being so fit, burn so many calories just breathing that they could eat that much ice cream daily, no problem.  I didn’t eat any ice cream this evening, just a decent meal, and a wee bit of fake whisky.

(See also BOOZE)



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