This Old Town shop-house restaurant is an experience like no other.
Is this Bangkok's most expensive street food? Watch our video:
Led by a 70-year-old lady named Jay Fai, this shop-house restaurant of the same name is the stuff of Bangkok street-food legend. Located just steps away from the ever-popular (though dare we say overrated) Thip Samai: Pad Thai Pratu Phi in the Old Town, this restaurant looks and operates not unlike your local tam sang (stir-fries made-to-order) joint, only the prices are much, much higher. That’s largely because these typical Thai dishes like pad kaprao, pad khee mao and tom yam kung are dressed up with super-fresh, giant-sized portions of crab, tiger prawns and other seafood delicacies.
Of course, you’re also paying for an experience. In the open kitchen, the energetic Jay Fai works her magic just like she has for the past 30 years: donning her iconic oversized goggles and grabbing her wok to provide a fire show over the charcoal brazier. The showmanship is spell-binding, but doesn’t really make up for the fact these flavors aren’t that amazing—especially at prices more befitting a fancy Thonglor restaurant than a no-frills shop-house.
We do love the hearty radna talay (stir-fried seafood noodles with gravy, B500), which offers an old-school mix of tao jiew (fermented beans) and Chinese wine. Even more wow-worthy—in appearance at least—is the khai jiew poo (crab omelet, B800-1,000), which is more like a crab cake than an omelet with just a thin crust of egg covering massive chunks of crabmeat. Unfortunately, the dish is slightly dry and lacking in flavor, though in this case it’s nothing that a fair dollop of chili sauce can’t fix.
Other staples like tom yam kung (B600-800) and stir-fried rice with crab meat (B500) come loaded with seafood, but also fall short on the taste front. On our last visit, we were disappointed to find some salt and sugar bombs in the guay tiew kua talay (stir-fried noodles with seafood, B500).
But these missteps don’t seem to scare off the local regulars or the foreign visitors who’ve made room for Jay Fai on their itinerary. This Old Town stronghold may not be the culinary masterclass some people claim, but it’s still an experience like no other, well worth a visit if your pockets are deep enough. No outside drinks allowed.
This review took place in March 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
|Jay Fai, 327 Maha Chai Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
|Rattanakosin (Old Town)
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