This is the second post in the Thailand! travel series of my eats in Bangkok. Other posts include Thip Samai, Best Pad Thai in Bangkok?
Have you ever tasted perfection?
My simple noodle plate at this simple roadside restaurant was one of my favorite bites during my entire trip in Bangkok.
This little, humble roadside open-air restaurant in the old part of Bangkok looks like it hasn't changed in over fifty years. The owner, Jay Fai, is a petite, energetic woman who has been cooking since she was eight years old in her family's street stall. Now approaching seventy, she still personally cooks virtually every single dish that comes out of the kitchen.
The open-air kitchen is simple - just a few really, really hot charcoal broilers which spit out ultra hot flames.
The flames are perfect for creating the ultimate "wok hei", that magical, caramelized, smoky flavor that results from cooking in a wok at high temperatures.
Jay Fai works quickly, skillfully maneuvering two different woks full of different ingredients at different stages. She is known as the "Mozart of the Wok" and her food, especially her Pad Khee Mao (drunken noodle) is legendary throughout Bangkok.
Her dishes costs about four to five times that of those sold around her (about 330 Baht or $11 USD for a plate of noodles), and yet her place is always packed. Lines can get long, so it's best to come during off hours, like at 4PM (opening time), which is when we arrived.
See! Empty restaurant at 4PM!
Raan Jay Fai's dishes stand out for a couple reasons. First of all, the quality of her seafood is unparalleled. The larger-than-average shrimp are juicy, succulent, and extremely flavorful. The fresh noodles have a wonderful chewy yet soft bite to them, and all the vegetables are extremely fresh.
Second, she just executes everything really, really well. This woman is famously known for her wok skills, and I believe the fame is warranted. We both loved the Pad Khee Mao, definitely something you just must try. The flavors and textures of the dish were outstanding, perfectly balanced in so many ways. Plus you just can't quite recreate that delicious wok hey at home, unless if you try cooking right over your charcoal grill.
The dishes were spicy, yet the heat was manageable (surprisingly!) and actually balanced the other flavors in the dish really well.
In fact, Bryan, who used to tell everyone he didn't like Thai food, changed his mind when he tasted these noodles. Instead of being overly sweet, he found the flavors to be perfectly balanced - spicy, salty, and just a touch of sweetness, with fragrant overtones of Thai basil, chili peppers, and that smoky wok hey.
This place is hard to find if you're trying to use Google Maps. I think the addresses don't line up quite right, so we overshot the first time and had to backtrack. Eventually, we stopped using our phones and instead just looked at the address numbers until we got to the place.
I'm not sure if it helps, but I did take a screen capture of our exact location (on Google Maps) once we were sitting in the restaurant.
If you're only in Thailand for a few days, I would highly recommend making this one of your priorities! It's so worth it!
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[…] Auntie Fai’s Michelin-starred seafood dish. Photo via Tiny Urban Kitchen. […]