- Published on Tuesday, 19 December 2017 16:31
- Written by Saigoneer.
Bangkok chef Jay Fai has become Thailand’s first street food vendor to earn a prestigious Michelin star.
Jay Fai, or Auntie Fai as she is affectionately known, is famous for her crab omelette and drunken noodles with prawns. CNN reports that she accepted the Michelin award at a ceremony in Bangkok last week.
Stuff, a New Zealand-based news site, describes Fai’s traditional omelet as “crispy on the outside, and filled with sweet crab meat, served with a side of sriracha and a sprig of parsley” while the drunken noodles are “chewy with a delicate smokey flavor and a spicy kick, and served with crispy vegetables and large prawns.”
Fai cooks all the dishes herself in woks over two charcoal fires while wearing giant goggles to protect her eyes from the boiling cooking oil. The 70-year-old woman has been perfecting her technique for decades.
Chawadee Nualkhair, a Bangkok-based street food blogger, explains: “Jay Fai is like the queen of Thai street food. She could have done anything with her fame: chain restaurants, street food branches, a fancy secondary location, but she didn’t. She stayed at her open-air shophouse with her two woks. I’m glad she’s finally getting some recognition.”
Fai’s humble, unnamed restaurant features a typical open kitchen, collection of plastic chairs and street noise. It is located several hundred meters from Bangkok’s infamous backpacker street, Khao San, and close to other famous eateries in Banglamphu District.
While its appearance resembles the countless street-side restaurants in the city, the prices do not. A food blog observes that meals range from around THB480 to THB800 (US$15-26 depending on the daily price of crab. That puts dishes at three times the average Thai daily wage. Customers can expect to wait from one to three hours for food.
The stall is one of 17 eateries to be awarded a star in the first Michelin guide to Bangkok, which was released this month. The guide profiles numerous restaurants, three of which (a French, an Indian and a European restaurant) won two stars. No restaurant received three stars. The Thai capital joins Singapore, Shanghai, Seoul, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Osaka, Macau and Shanghai as the only Asian locations “deemed worthy of Michelin’s famed red guide, first released for motorists in 1900”, according to The Guardian.
Of the 28 profiled street vendors in the Bangkok guide, Fei was the only to receive a star. She becomes only the third vendor to achieve this honor after Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle were recognized in the guide’s Singapore edition released last year.
When asked to comment on the honor, Fai admitted: “Before, I knew the Michelin name but I did not know it had to do with cooking.” She expressed pride in receiving the award before adding that she needed to be back in the kitchen on Friday.[Photo via VICE]
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