You can try to make a reservation, but the location — named after its chef/proprietor, a nearby legend — is generally booked a month or out. Signing up for the stroll-in list is the first-class wager for many, particularly tourists. But you need to get there early.
“I got here at 7:30 [a.M.],” says 24-year antique Kashmira Velji, from Austin, Texas, who changed into determined to attempt Jay Fai after viewing the chef’s big-name switch on the recent Netflix unique Street Food. Never mind that the eating place does not open for lunch until 2 p.M.
“Everybody we’ve met on this experience, no one we have talked to who’s been right here made it inside to consume,” she says. “They instructed us that they’d gotten here at 9 or 10 [a.M.], that they’d been wide variety 30 on the list and that they couldn’t wait that long to get food. So I became like, we’re displaying up [early], and we’re getting a table.”
It labored. Getting there at 7:30 a.M. Made Velji and her pal, Ana Wong, first at the walk-in listing. Seven hours later, they were biting into Jay Fai’s signature Khai jaw poo or crab omelet.
“I’ve in no way had something like this earlier than,” Velji says among bites. “I’m no longer making it up; I’m now not exaggerating; it is certainly notable. Like, it’s light and airy however it’s also … Hardy,” she says, somewhat confused. “Our first bites had been very extreme. We kind of just stayed silent and was in shock at how suitable it tastes.”
Suparat Tretachayakorn — a physician — is not bowled over at all. He’s normal. And the crab omelet is considered one of his move-to dishes.
“It’s pure joy,” he says. He’s here with some colleagues who have simply polished off not one but of the crab omelets, every stuffed with more or less a pound of crab meat.
“It’s so fresh, and it’s a virtually big lump,” he says. “And the way that she fried it, it’s now not very oily, it is not greasy in any respect. When you narrow it open, it simply oozes this creaminess internal, and you cross ‘wow.’ It’s incredible.”
He and his friends have also ordered Jay Fai’s well-known tom yum soup, and half of a dozen other dishes. Tom yum is a Thai staple — made with shrimp, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, garlic, and mushrooms — and it’s located almost anywhere. But that does not mean it’s always proper.
“I don’t usually order tom yum because I recognize that I’m going to be disillusioned at maximum locations,” he says. “It’s tough to execute properly, complicated to do it justice like this,” he says. “The one here I order whenever.”
And Jay Fai seems to have defied logic with something she calls dry tom yum. It’s another of her signature dishes. One it is were given the visitor from Austin, Velji, baffled. In a good way.
“It tastes much like the soup. However it’s dry,” she says. “It’s exactly the equal flavors of the tom yum soup, but as opposed to slurping it, I’m chewing it, and I’m nonetheless getting all those sour, spicy flavors,” she says. I ask her how that’s feasible. She shakes her head. “She’s magic, guy. I don’t know. She’s were given a special power. She’s superhuman.”
Her buddy, Wong, — who have been skeptical a bit in advance (take into account the seven-hour wait?) — is not anymore. They have controlled to finish a crab omelet, the dry tom yum and a plate of drunken noodles.
“There are no phrases to explain it. I mean, it is top notch,” she says. “Just special flavors are now not overpowering one another — you can taste each one in all them. “It’s surprising. I give it a ten!”
“I provide it a 15!” Velji interjects. She’s not feeling in any respect foolish about getting here so early — which she had felt only some hours ago.
“Now, I’m simply searching at these types of human beings covered up outdoor,” Velji says. “We have the quality seats. We have the satisfactory food. Everybody out there may be watching us, and we are in right here enjoying the fine meal we’ll probable ever have,” she says, motioning to the 30 or so people ready outdoor in the blistering warmness. “We’re clever ladies to expose up that early. We’re doers.”
And part of the laugh, they each say, is looking the maestro at work. The seventy four-yr-old Jay Fai chefs the whole lot herself — over two blazing charcoal fires, in the alley after the busy avenue, even as shoppers snap photos of her from a distance.
She wears a wool cap, a gray camouflage shirt with a long black apron and big protection goggles to beat back the warmth and fire. She is a dervish who barks orders to her underlings, who’re short of conveying her whatever she asks. Ingredients for the following dish. Fresh woks to prepare dinner with. And more charcoal — usually extra charcoal — to preserve the heat steady.
“It’s faster to cook when the use of charcoal, to stir-fry veggies,” Jay Fai says. “The charcoal makes the entirety very warm in no time. Just don’t position too much oil,” she warns. “Put lots of fowl broth. The greens may be crispy and fresh and taste desirable.”
And Jay Fai is a perfectionist — a lot so that she would not allow every body else on her staff do the cooking. That’s every other reason why it takes see you later to get your meals right here — even with reservations.
“They can not do it. This is very hard to do,” she says. “It’s no longer that I don’t want them to do it, I do. But even when they watch me, they can’t do not forget anything.” And it is no longer simply her group of workers she doubts. “The new era, I can let you know, they can’t do it to my level. I do things quickly and hold the first-rate true, too,” she says.
Her real name is Supinya Jansuta, but everyone calls her Jay Fai. It kind of interprets to “Sister Mole,” a reference to a birthmark next to her nose. She says she found out to cook dinner from her mother, who sold noodle soup with pork and chook.
“To be a cook, you want skill. I did not move to high school, but I lived and cooked with my dad and mom. When we went out to eat in a restaurant,” she says, “I would watch them prepare dinner and taste the food, poke it around the plate and study what components they had been using. Then I came lower back to test at domestic.”
Eventually, she commenced her commercial enterprise, relentlessly sampling other people’s meals a good way to adapt it, she says. To make it higher — and to make it her own.
“I attempted to prepare dinner each night time once I closed the eating place,” she says. “I experimented till I got a dish right, to make a dish human beings wanted.”
In the system, she decided to switch matters up, forgoing the same old road food elements for the highest-nice substances possible — mainly seafood. And she charged lots more excellent for it inside the technique.
Some instructed her it would not work. She did not listen. And her business grew. Fast. Enough for her to buy the storehouse in which she’s been cooking for the past 40 years. She begins preparing as quickly because the eating place opens and does not forestall until it closes nicely after midnight.