Jay Fai is acclaimed by food critics. Also internationally. Long before that she was acclaimed by her local patriots who came regularly to appreciate the tasty and fresh seafood served. Today, you still find food critics there, together with Bangkokiens in their Ferraris and top notch cars occasinally parked street side. And of course expatriates. But the ordinary local working woman and lad has disappeared from the scene, long time ago. Part of that explanation is the prices.
But first. We are in one of Bangkok’s last older neighborhoods where skyscrapers and designer malls is something you see at distance and a good walk away. That said, it´s easy to access by Taxi or a pair of light feet (not rainy season) from the more famous area Khao San Road. An advantage of being in the neighborhood is that you can enjoy a drink and some music in one of this planets better jazz scenes after dinner, the rather famous Bourbon Street.
Jay Fai is still a small no frill shophouse eatery, or a hole in the wall if you like. Three walls and a roof. Well, a small balcony or a third of an extra floor is to be found inside. Most likely, that was their sleeping room before the snowball started to roll. But thats a long time ago now. The coal is glowing in the back – or at the side of the resto to be more correct.
While 2am closing time might be a notch to early for the more advanced night owls, you can still get one of Bangkok’s best post midnight meals at a gourmet kitchen if you feel for it. Sometimes I am. This is one of the vendors I visit regularly. By the way, they open at 3pm, so a late lunch is a nice option to consider.
Ok, the prices. It costs. To put in perspective, it´s close to a 3 day salary for locals – for the crab omelet. What sets it apart from many other vendors is not only the prices, but the high end products. It can be the drunken noodles, the Rad na (a gravy) or the crab omelette, it all comes with ultra fresh prawns, scallops, crab meat, squid or whatever the ingredients being used. The old auntie has been doing that faithfully for 60 years. The dishes runs from around 480 Baht to 800 Bath + depending on the price of crab that day.
It is also to be mentioned that 100 meters further up you find two of the better Pad Thai vendors in town, together with a fantastic Khanom Bueang (dessert – crispy pancake with filling) vendor. Check out Leung Pha Pad Thai and also Thip Samai. As said, it is one of the older neighborhood that keeps it´s aura.
Name: Jay Fai
Food: Crab omelet, drunken noodles, seafood Rad na, ++
Opening Hours: Sun-Fri 3pm-2am
Address: 327 Maha Chai Rd
How to get there: The easiest way is to grab a taxi at Hua Lamphong Metro station (also the closest Metro station to Chinatown). Next to that is grab a map and start walking. It´s about 15 minutes walk from Khao San Road.
Khanom Bueang dates back to the Buddha era, but was nearly lost as part of the Thai cuisine. It was rediscovered during the Ayutthaya period of King Narai’s rule mid 17th century. Lady Witchayen, a Japanese lady married to a foreign diplomat, introduced eggs into the cuisine of the Court. Despite the popularly held belief, the filling in the khanom bueang is not coconut cream, its a meringue filling. Fresh coconut is spread on top.
One of the better artickels on this Thai dessert can be found at Pastebangkok.