Review of Raan Jay Fai - Michelin starred street food in Bangkok
Popular food places always have a queue. My rule of thumb is that if I have to wait longer than two hours to get a table, then it’s not worth it.
That is except for Raan Jay Fai.
From putting my name down on the writing list, to finally having my first bite of food, I waited five and a half hours. Long I know. But how often do you watch a documentary about a must-eat in a country that you just happen to be visiting!
If you don’t know, Jay Fai is a Michelin starred street food vendor in Thailand’s Bangkok. I learnt about her amazing food and life story on a street food documentary, just two weeks ahead of me travelling to Bangkok. So I added her to my list of places to visit.
The idea was to grab a quick lunch at Jai Fay’s after a morning of temple visiting in Bangkok. I knew it’d be busy, but I just didn’t anticipate exactly how long the wait would be.
I arrived at 2pm, the time she opens, and there was already a big huddle of people waiting. I saw Jay Fai preparing her work station and took a few snaps. Then I quickly realised there was a waiting list, and put my name down. I was number 50 out of 80. At that moment, I had no idea how long it’d be until it was my turn. So I sat down with the others and patiently waited.
An hour in, I started chatting with the other customers. One couple had been there since 11am and were at number 10. The lady was desperately hoping it’d all be worth it as she was starting to get impatient.
I was equally starting to fidget too. I decided to walk it off and explore the local area. Upon my return an hour later, there were still another 30 people ahead of me. So I went to the café opposite Jay Fai’s to chill out in the air-con, use their wifi and also have a little snack. This was convenient since I could periodically run across the road to check how close I was to being called.
Eventually there were only about 15 people ahead of me. I decided it was time to return to Jay Fai’s since I didn’t want to run the risk of missing my spot because I wasn’t present when my number was called.
By now, the sun was starting to set and everyone was getting tired. So was the weather as there was a sudden bout of torrential rain – which seemed to have put people off from returning. Even better for me!
During my last hour of waiting, I got chatting with the rest of the group. We were all from different parts of the world, discussing why we were in Bangkok and how crazy it was that a documentary bought us all together to wait over 5 hours for food. But it was all part of the experience, and we’d cheer and applaud as our numbers were called.
Finally “number 50” was called and It was my turn to eat some of the best food I’d ever eaten in my life!
First up was the crab omelette - all fluffy and golden, served with a sweet and spicy sauce. I sliced it in half and could see the pound of crab meat in all it’s glory. Visually, this crab omelette was great but without the sauce, I found the omelette to be a little bland. Either way, this was definitely good value for money.
Next up was the Drunken Noodles. Hands down the BEST stir fried ho fun (flat rice noodles) I’ve ever eaten. The ho fun was silky smooth, the prawns were massive and so fresh I could taste the sea! Despite it’s name, there isn’t actually any alcohol used in it. But you can taste the distinct fish sauce and oyster sauce combination, plus of course the Thai staple - holy basil!
Then the grand finale arrived – Tom Yum Noodle Soup! I’ve had my share of tom yum soup in my lifetime, but none have had the depth of flavour that Jay Fai’s had – even the ones I’ve had in Bangkok. The spiciness and sharpness were on another level and it was spoonful after spoonful of flavour that packed a punch. There are three levels of spiciness for you to choose from – mild, medium or Thai. I chose Medium and that was already hot, I can’t imagine how spicy the Thai level would’ve been. So pick wisely!
There were lots of other dishes that I wanted to try, but as there was only two of us we just couldn’t stomach it. Hopefully there will be another time for me to visit Jay Fai again.
So here are my tips to help you plan a visit to Raan Jay Fai:
1. Try to book ahead. Like way ahead. Whilst I was waiting, I overheard people being given bookings for a whole month later.
2. Alternatively arrive on the day at around 10 or 11am to put your name down on the walk-in list before everyone else.
3. Be prepared to wait either way.
4. Go in a big group so you can order more dishes to try.
5. Bring enough cash as she doesn’t accept credit card.
6. If you go for a walkabout (or even a massage) whilst you’re waiting, be sure to keep an eye on the time. Otherwise you’ll lose your spot if your number is called and you’re not there.
Raan Jay Fai
Address: 327 Maha Chai Rd, Khwaeng Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
Phone: +66 92 724 9633
Opening Times: Tuesday to Saturday 2pm to 12am, closed Sunday and Monday