Junsuta, nicknamed Jay Fai for which the restaurant is named after, mans the roaring charcoal-fired stoves daily, clad in her trademark black apron, beanie and ski goggles to protect her eyes from long hours in front of the intense heat. She started her roadside eatery in the 1980s and made a name for herself by procuring very high-quality seafood and transforming the ingredients into soulful dishes kissed with the smoky breath of her woks.
With the influx of foreign guests, Jay Fai’s English-speaking daughter Yuwadee Junsuta has had to leave her career to work full-time at the restaurant. There, she manages the crowds, takes the orders and helps her mother finish the stall’s famed crab omelette in a smaller wok to fluffy golden perfection.
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It’s a real treat to watch Jay Fai cook this dish over the charcoal stove as she gently bathes the egg and crab meat in hot oil, rolling them together into a cylinder with practiced motion. These days, Jay Fai’s famous kai jeaw poo is finished in a smaller wok of hot oil by her daughter and arrives at the table like a golden-brown burrito. Cutting into the fluffy pillow reveals succulent, generous chunks of sweet lump crab, held together by just enough egg.
Jay Fai’s phad kee mao talay is a moreish dish of flat rice noodles stir-fried with a hot and spicy sauce, basil leaves, fresh chili, crisp hearts of coconut palm and fresh seafood like huge whole prawns, tender rings of squid and cuttlefish. A smoky char clings on to the sticky, chewy noodles, a nod to Jay Fai’s prowess at the charcoal-fired stoves.
Spicy, tart and fragrant with bruised galangal, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, this tom yum goong features shelled jumbo prawns, chunks of fish, squid and mushrooms swimming in a deceptively clear, heady broth.
Jay Fai’s rendition of poo phad phong karee features the same generous hunks of deshelled lump crab meat as those in her famed crab omelette, stir-fried with eggs and onions in a fragrant and creamy yellow curry sauce.