World’s Food in NYC: Where to get Yen Ta Fo?

Want to eat everything that Cesar is eating during his trip? Do you want to try new cuisines? Then keep reading.

For the ones who don’t know me, I am Cesar’s girlfriend Gizem. While he is traveling solo, I am going to be in NYC working towards my PhD, but I want to have some fun too! So I decided to find every delicious food he eats right here in NYC, so you can stop drooling on your keyboard and go get a taste of South East Asia!

(For our readers outside of New York, go explore your town and add suggestions on the comments below. Sharing is caring!)

My first mission was to find this soup that Cesar mentioned in his “Hello Bangkok!” post.

Also called Pink Noodle Soup, Yen Ta Fo is a popular noodle soup with fried tofu, all sorts of seafood goodies, rice noodles and a pink broth. The broth’s color comes from ketchup or tomato. It is sweet, sour and spicy. It is topped with shrimp, fish balls, calamari, fried tofu and water spinach.

I had to search a bit to find the soup in NYC and found it at Pure Thai Cookhouse. It is called Krabi Seafood Noodles Soup and it comes with a disclaimer: “not recommended for novices – please no returns”. I have to admit, the disclaimer got me worried because even though Cesar and I are both adventurous eaters sometimes he beats me in trying unusual food.

When the soup arrived, I immediately smelled the distinct fishy, spicy broth. The broth was unusual but had a well balanced sweet and sour taste, it did not taste like any other noodle soup I have tried before. The seafood was very yummy, especially the fish balls. At the end of the day I did not return the soup but I can see why some people might. If you don’t do well with fishy tastes and smells, yen ta fo might not be your dish, if you do I can’t recommend it more.

Krabi Seafood Noodles Soup (Yen Ta Fo) at Pure Thai Cookhouse

Krabi Seafood Noodles Soup (Yen Ta Fo) at Pure Thai Cookhouse

I also asked my waitress whether the soup is local to Krabi as the name on the menu suggests. She said no, the soup is popular everywhere but the seafood is very fresh in Krabi hence the name. The soup is $13 during dinner and $11 during lunch. Also don’t forget to try their thai iced tea if you want a sweet and delicious drink.

See you in another delicious adventure soon! -Gizem

Hello Bangkok!

Good morning from Bangkok! After 25 hours of flying and layovers, I’m here. Even though I’m exhausted and hungover, I’m as pumped as ever. 

Day 1 was a success and already an adventure. I think I’m going to like this new lifestyle.  

My fear of not being able to make friends out of strangers, not adapting and ending up lonely this entire trip — well, that fear was put to rest right out of the gate. Literally right out of the airport gate. I made an awesome new friend who was also backpacking. Before I knew it, I ended up biking around the Ari neighborhood, prowling the night markets for street food, drinking $2 beers at bars called Cheap Charlie’s, speaking an incoherent mix of Turkish and Thai phrases, and er…watching unplanned, special shows. 

I’m staying at the Yard Hostel, and I love it. I’ll share more in a dedicated post, but it’s this hipster hostel with kickass owners, a bar, and awesome, likeminded people and friends.

Today will be a day of roaming – no plans and no tourist sights for me. Possibly foot massages, rooftop bars and dinner at Terminal 21 (thanks for the recommendation!). 

A plan is starting to formulate in my head. I may scuba in Koh Tao this weekend, or head to Krabi and rock climb at Railay. 

So many possibilities!

“Plans are deliberately indefinite, more to travel than to arrive anywhere.” – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance   

the yard itself. hipster objects scattered

delicious soup lunch for 45 thb ($1.30)

yen ta fo (pink noodle soup). no idea whats in it. noms

my ride for the day.

my new lifestyle, written on the walls




The plan and why I’m not planning

The game plan for my SE Asia trip hasn’t changed much since my first blog post.

So far, I still only have a 1-way ticket to Bangkok plus a place booked for my first few nights. I have an idea of the countries I might want to hit, but not much else.

This lack of having a “concrete plan” is by design, of course. But it is starting to freak me out.

In fact, it goes against every fiber of my being.



I’m usually that guy who plans out his day by the hour. I live by my calendar – if it’s not on there, then it doesn’t exist. So as you can imagine, not knowing exactly where I’ll be one week from today sits outside of my comfort zone.

And I love it.

The plan is to vagabond, as coined by travel writer Rolf Potts in his book “Vagabonding.” Here are some of my favorite definitions of vagabonding:

  • “Vagabonding is about refusing to exile travel to some other, seemingly more appropriate, time of your life.”
  • “Vagabonding is about gaining the courage to loosen your grip on the so-called certainties of this world.”
  • “It’s about being a student of daily life. It requires only that we walk through the world in a more deliberate way”

I find the uncertainty of vagabonding to be incredibly exciting. While to some people it may spell out a recipe for disaster, I think there’s so much to learn from it and I want to embrace it. I also believe that this mentality and flexibility may lend to more spontaneous, genuine experiences.

Unplug and connect

Another part of the “plan” is to unplug a bit from the frenetic pace of our digital lifestyles. So, I’m not going to bring my laptop with me. And I’ve set my inbox such that I only check my email 1-2x per week (gasp).

It’s so easy for us to remove the uncertainty in our daily lives, alleviate loneliness, or simply not live in the present moment by falling back to our devices. If I must know what’s going on in the world, then I’ll pick up a newspaper or ask someone. If I need a recommendation on where to eat or stay, maybe I’ll ask a local instead of resorting to some mobile app.


Where I think I’ll go

I do have a list of activities that are high on my list, such as climbing in Thailand, surfing in the Philippines, diving in Bali, biking across fields in Vietnam, beaching in Cambodia, etc. And I do have some of the usual tourist spots on the list as well.

All in, I’ll likely hit Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan (definitely), Malaysia and possibly more/less in some sort of order.

But what I’m most psyched about is learning and connecting with other people. To me, that is the true essence and real reward of traveling.

I leave tomorrow night. I can’t believe it.