Pla Yoo Yen
Everything about Pla Yoo Yen points at it being a typical suan arharn—the big sculptures, small fountain, fish tank, canteen-like outdoor area and super-thick menu comprised of endless seafood dishes. Such places tend to live or die on the quality of their food but, honestly, there’s nothing to get too excited about here. While no dish is an outright disappointment, most are average as the kitchen struggles to bring out the true flavors of the food. Still, the place packs in families with kids who devour the recommended options like pla chon Yoo Yen (fried snakehead fish, B250), in which the fish is doused in a slightly spicy sauce similar to the one you’d find in the dish pla chon lui suan (fried snakehead fish with spicy sauce and shallot). However, the sauce lacks any depth or aroma whatsoever as a result of the meager amount of rather sad ingredients they use, hardly warranting the price tag. The pla gao pad cha (stir-fried grouper with basil and pepper, B200), too, seems to suffer from a lack of effort. The fish itself lacks freshness, while the overall taste lacks balance—again, far too stingy on the ingredients. The kiddies’ favorite, tord mun gung (deep-fried shrimp cake, B100), is overly greasy and made with way too much flour and features very little shrimp. The tom yam kung (spicy soup with shrimps, B160) is more comforting yet hardly exciting with its watery broth, but it at least comes with some big and juicy shrimp. Rice dishes, like the khao pad kung (B100) are probably your safest bet thanks to the nicely cooked texture. Still, we needed to spice it up with fish sauce as it’s not particularly big on flavor. Like similar eateries, Pla Yoo Yen is obviously no fad. It’s earned a reputation over the years for its unfussy fare and comfortable vibe, but while nothing is really terrible, there’s nothing particularly noteworthy either.