I don’t often get to Bangkok’s old town. There’s plenty of great food there, but with Bangkok traffic, you can feel as if you’re visiting a different province entirely after making the journey from the main slice of Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area. On my last visit to Jay Fai with the film crew from Eating Asia I had a great time and of course enjoyed the spicy krapow dishes we ordered while there. Although I listed Jay Fai in my list of top grapow spots, I wanted to come back and share more photos and a few details about why this place is so special.
The Jay Fai Persona
First off, “Jay Fai” or Auntie Fai is a person, the main cook in her restaurant and she’s just as fiery as the dishes she serves. The nickname “Fai” is actually a reference to a mole on her face. But don’t mention that, just be polite, finish your plates, and you’ll make quick friends with this tough auntie who insists on cooking nearly all of the dishes herself.
Streetside Jumbo Seafood
One of the biggest draws for Jay Fai regulars is the jumbo seafood used in each of the dishes. Whether giant chunks of crab flesh or jumbo prawn, choosing to have your krapow or stir fried noodles with seafood instead of the standard meats on offer is a wise choice. The disadvantage to the oversized prawn is that the larger they are, usually the more difficult the flesh. That’s certainly the case at Jay Fai where you’ll need all of your canine teeth to rip into the jumbo prawn.
Charcoal Grilled Everythang
Just the way she has for decades, Auntie Jay Fai cooks in her woks over the high flame from the intensely burning charcoal below. You’re hard pressed to find other places doing this, whether restaurants or street food stalls who still make the effort. This is a lot of work, but leaves the flash cooked food smoked, a dimension often missing in Thai food cooked on gas stoves.
Bangkok’s Most Expensive Street Food
Going to Jay Fai is an experience altogether and even though it’s street food, don’t assume it will be a cheap one. On the contrary this is probably the most expensive street food you can find with dishes ranging from 350 to 1500 baht or more ($12-$40). This isn’t all bad, it does deter an incredible amount of tourists and I think it teaches others to respect the craft!
If you’d like more info on Jay Fai, I recommend giving Chow from Bangkok Glutton’s blog a read to learn more about what’s on offer. Read her What’s Cooking: Jay Fai article here or look back at my other top picks for Thailand’s most famous dish, stir fried basil (krapow) here.