Junsuta, nicknamed Jay Fai for which the restaurant is named after, oversees 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.
These are the four dishes recommended by Yuwadee Junsuta to try the next time you’re visiting Jay Fai.
1. Crab Omelette
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.
Here's what MICHELIN Inspectors said about Jai Fai (One Michelin Star)
Jay Fai is a place that both taxi drivers and foodies wax lyrical about and it's easy to see why. Wearing her signature goggles, the local legend that is Jay Fai continues what her father started 70 years ago and makes crab omelettes, crab curries and dry congee.
*Note: This article was originally written for the MICHELIN Guide Singapore website by Rachel Tan and has been modified for MICHELIN Guide Thailand.