The service is unrefined, the plastic stools and aluminium tables are uninspiring, and the queues are long – you and your friends can wait up to two hours on the pavement outside. Yet the diners still keep coming to Jay Oh (Bib Gourmand).
Tucked away amongst automotive parts shops on Charat Alley not far from the National Stadium, the dinner and late night eatery feels like it’s been there forever. It has – kind of, though it’s only been at its current address since 2015.
First opened in 1967 by Jay Oh’s parents-in-law, the restaurant is still very much a family affair, with the namesake matriarch’s six children still involved with the running of the business.
“My grandparents first opened the restaurant serving khao tom (Thai rice soup) and ped palo (stewed duck),” says Sirichai Taweepoonasap, one of the third-generation family members at the restaurant, recognisable for the Bluetooth headset over his ear as he flits between tables taking orders and calculating the final bills with impressive speed.
“We would add new dishes to use up leftover ingredients, and over time we have also adjusted the flavours of some dishes to make them more appealing,” he adds.
One of the newer additions to the menu is the “Mama O-Ho”, originally created by Taweepoonasap for his personal consumption. Seasonings were carefully balanced to ensure not one flavour overpowered the other. More nam prik pao (roasted chilli paste) was added to allow each individual instant noodles to be coated with oil to enhance the mouthfeel of the dish.
This is the same attention to detail that has propelled Michelin-rated restaurants to excellence – it’s the same Thai philosophy of lamiat that has inspired Chang to create a superior beverage fitting for the journey to culinary fulfilment.
The variety and punchy flavours of the dishes here are best suited for sharing with friends over drinks and laughter, to be enjoyed well into the early hours of the morning.
When you’re thinking of late-night comfort food, an instant noodle dish is possibly what you’re imagining, only this is much better. Starting with the already tasty tom yum recipe, they turned the flavours up a few notches to compensate for the noodles’ neutral taste. Served in the pot it was cooked in, the noodles are then topped with a choice of turf, surf (pictured), or a supersized, full-option version topped with pork meatballs, fried pork, squid, and prawn. The latter is good to share between four or five friends – as we know food always tastes better when enjoyed with friends – and we’d say even the smaller servings taste better when shared. Not to mention you should really save room for other dishes.
Each of the components – from the pork meatballs made with a percentage of fat to ensure its moistness to the juicy chunks of seafood – are outstanding on their own, but together, the complex flavours and contrasting textures are phenomenal.
This dish is served only from 11 p.m. onwards.
A popular dish to pair with crisp drinks is yum, the Thai salad known for its zesty, spicy, and salty balancing act. Diners here have a choice of over 10 versions, but this particular yum dish features generous cuts of fresh salmon, handpicked for their deeper reddish-orange hue and fat marbling.
The carbonation and flavour of an ice-cold refined drink cuts through the fat and balances the dish’s strong flavours, allowing for a complex finish to a simply lip-smacking dish.
Stir-fried baby clams with roasted chilli paste
These baby clams may be small in size, but that’s just the more to suck on while chatting with friends. The liberal addition of nam prik pao (roasted chilli paste) and Thai sweet basil highlights the delicate flavour and firm texture of the clams.
The full flavour of a quality-brewed beverage brings out the umami note of the baby clams while balancing the spiciness and sweetness of the rich chilli paste.
Stir-fried crab with bird’s eye chillies
Hearty chunks of jumbo lump crab meat from Chonburi and/or Nakhon Sri Thammarat are the star ingredients of this dish. Unlike some restaurants that use oyster sauce in similar creations, this dish is simple, using only the aroma and flavours of kaffir lime leaves, garlic and bird’s eye chillies to complement the meaty texture of the crab. The result is a dish that is spicy and salty – perfect taste notes to enjoy with a refreshing golden beverage.
Three-flavoured stir-fried egg tofu with prawns
Sweet, sour, and spicy – this is a dish that does what it says on the tin, with the added textural contrast of firm goong chae buay (banana prawns) and delicate egg tofu. The trio of flavours share the stage beautifully, neither overpowering the others. The prawns have a natural sweet flavour to them, so between mouthfuls, cleanse the palate with a crisp beverage.
At Jay Oh, the prices are friendly, the tastes fiery, and the drinks ice cold. This is definitely a restaurant you will want to visit before – or after – a fun night out with a group of friends.
To make a reservation (capped at 15 advanced bookings per hour), visit https://www.facebook.com/RanCeXow/.
To learn more about Chang’s spirit of lamiat, a philosophy underpinned by a deep and authentic appreciation in the small details that produce perfection, visit www.changbeer.com/lamiat.
Here's What Our Inspectors Said About Jay Oh (Bib Gourmand)
Diners on plastic stools line the pavement outside this simple shop with a universal mission: to eat Jay Oh's Tom Yum, stir-fried clams and crab. Soi Charat is where you'll find this international crowd waiting up to two hours for their number to be called, so don't come when you're starving and say we didn't warn you. There is an English menu, but using a translation app or coming with a local friend is useful since the staff only speak Thai.