The Queen of Street Food

The omelette that won a Michelin star

How long would you wait to eat good food? An hour, before your tummy starts to protest? How about waiting like 4 hours or more for your turn to sample culinary delights from the Queen of Bangkok street food?

I kid you not. The wait for feasting on this famous crab omelette can be as long as several hours. Read on if you want to find out how to get a seat at the Queen’s table.

Bangkok is known for it’s numerous street food vendors, and here is also where you can find Raan Jay Fai, a street side restaurant which recently won a Michelin star for street food in 2018. Since then they have been swamped with tourists and locals, all trying to find out how great the food is.

The restaurant’s name is also the name of it’s owner, Auntie Jay Fai. Beside’s being a good cook, she also has a distinct dress code, cooking over a charcoal stove wearing a beanie, ski goggles and lipstick.

How to Reserve Your Table

If you are the type that likes to do things prim and proper to ensure your reservation, then you need to call or send an email to them 2-3 months in advance. Yup! That’s how long the waiting list is. You can contact Raan Jay Fai at 092-724 9633, or email them at jayfaibangkok@gmail.com. They do reply promptly to emails, as I’d emailed them to make a reservation and got a reply within a day plus. If you are able to get a reservation through email then you are set. Just turn up on that day and time and bring a copy of your email reservation.

After trying my luck to make a reservation for less than a month’s notice, I was politely told that my requested dates were full and that I should try walking in… Which brings me to the next part on how to enjoy a meal at Jay Fai using the walk in method.

On the day that you intend to eat at Jay Fai, you have to come in the morning to write down your name and queue number in the waiting list. So we found ourselves in front of the shop at 10.30am, and there was already a long line of people in front of us. We ended up with No. 24 in the list.
That’s the walk-in list where you write your name, running number and number of people. The restaurant only opens at 2pm but if you don’t want to be far down the line, then it’s best to come here at 9.30am as that’s when they put the walk-in list for the day out for people to fill in.

So now that you’ve filled in your name and got a number, what’s next? If you are in the top 5 places, then it’s best to come back at 2pm when the restaurant opens to wait. The numbers get called in groups, so if you are not around when your number is called, your place is gone for the day. Our No. 24 got called between 6-7pm, but your timing may vary depending on the crowd for that day.

For ourselves, after filling in the walk-in list, we took a taxi to ICONSIAM (more about this place in a later blog) a newly opened mega shopping mall along the banks of the Chao Phraya River to spend the day and only came back to Jay Fai at around 5pm. This is the best way to spend your time instead of waiting in line for hours. But you do have to be prudent in not coming back too late and missing your queue number.

So we were back at 5pm and this was the crowd of people waiting for a seat. The running number was 20 and we still waited until 6pm or later to hear our No.25 being called. I guess dinner time is when most email reservations would be made and these have to be cleared first.

So, although our number got called and we made our order. We still waited until 7pm before we were seated, and a further wait until almost 8pm before our food came.

While waiting, you can go take a peek at Jay Fai herself in her distinct garb. She’s does all the cooking herself. Her family members and assistants does the food preparation, organise and seat customers, and take orders.
She’s like a mini celebrity with hordes of fans waiting to take photos of her. Auntie Jay Fai is in her 70’s but still cooks every dish herself. standing behind the stove from 2pm until the restaurant closes late at night.
So here is the crab omelette that has got the whole world talking. It’s pretty expensive at THB 1,000 per omelette. In a country where THB 50 can buy you a full lunch, it feels like a sin to pay so much for an omelette. But it’s really worth it, considering that you are getting a whole lot of crab meat (actually more than 1 crab’s worth).
The other dish that we tried was the recommended Drunken Noodles. I wished my stomach was bigger to try more dishes but just the omelette and this noodles was already a lot of food for just 2 persons.

I only ate 2 of the more highly recommended dishes out of the menu, so I can’t really be a judge of every dish there. The crab omelette was expensive no doubt. But it was cooked in an unique style and didn’t taste oily despite it being fried in a big wok of oil. The drunken noodles were tasty and slightly spicy. Taste wise you won’t find this in Singapore.

Should You Eat Here?

I would say come here if you have the time to wait and want a culinary adventure. Their prices aren’t also exactly street food prices and a meal here can easily cost you SGD 100 or more for 4 persons. So if you are looking for a cheap eat then you should be looking elsewhere.

Jay Fai was featured in the Netflix series “Street Foods” and has gained quite a bit of international exposure. I met an Israeli girl who was waiting for her turn to get seated and she felt inspired by what she saw on Netflix to come and try out the food here. I presume many of the customers waiting were also there because of Netflix. For some people, waiting 2-3 hours for a meal can be excruciatingly boring, but if you take the time to socialize with the other people waiting and talk about a common interest like food, the wait is more interesting with the opportunity to make new friends.

Getting There

Raan Jay Fai is located near Yaowarat, the Chinatown of Bangkok. It used to be that the only way to get here was to take a taxi or tut tut. But now with the newly opened MRT station of Sam Yot on the blue line, Raan Jay Fai is just a 15 minutes walk away.

2 thoughts on “The Queen of Street Food

  1. This is awesome ~ I am tempted to take a trip just to eat at this restaurant (reservation in hand!), what a cool place and great write-up and post. Cheers, Edwin, to a great autumn season.

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