Following my trip to Nepal, I had an overnight layover in Bangkok. When I booked my stay at the fantastic Rosewood Bangkok I had asked the concierge to assist in booking at table at Raan Jay Fai, the now world famous Michelin-starred, goggle wearing Thai street food queen. The restaurant opens reservation 2 months in advance, and it can be done via phone or email, but probably easiest to do via local contact like hotel concierge. Now, you can still join the line on the daily and most likely will be seated at some point. But reservations highly recommended. It is cash only, and bring a lot, because while this may be considered street food, the prices are most certainly not your average street food price, expect to pay more than USD$100 total as a group of 2 or more people if you want to try 3-5 dishes plus drinks.
Ultimately is it worth the journey out to the Western part of town nowhere near public transportation (take a Grab or taxi) to enjoy this meal? Yes, if you have reservations. I am not sure I’d wait hours in line for it. It is pricey, but Jay Fai is very generous with the amount of high quality fresh crab and seafood she adds to each dish, fairly sure I had more sweet juicy crab meat in this meal than eating a dungeness or hairy crab feast anywhere in the world.
Jay Fai most definitely became famous from Netflix’s “Street Food” series and subsequently her Michelin-star. The image of a tiny Thai lady wearing goggles and tossing her wok in a huge flurry of flames at the corner of her restaurant in Bangkok is now ubiquitous when one thinks of Bangkok street food, a core Thai culture that was once threatened to end not so long ago when the government nearly banned street food. Now, I must say now that this should in no way overshadow the abundance of other wonderfully tasty street food choices in Bangkok, but personally I just had to see for myself if the hype was real, especially that famous Crab Omelette.
We had made a reservation for 9PM on a Friday night. With Bangkok traffic I arrived at 9:15, thankfully my brother-in-law had already arrived. I believe they hold tables for 15 minutes. You simply show them the email confirmation and you are shown to your table. It is more a corner restaurant than street stall. Nonetheless all the action happens in the front corner of the restaurant. Its become so much of a tourist attraction that there a signs in front of Jay Fai and her cooking station that say “please no flash.” Many pass by just to see her in action and dont line up or actually want to eat, she herself is a celebrity.
The space is not big but they certainly pack it in tight. During our meal there was a large group of around 10 or 12 and then us two and a couple other smaller groups. I would later learn that large group was Alain Ducasse and his Bangkok team, I did not recognize him without glasses!
You sit down and they bring menus. Jay Fai’s daughter handles reservations and is the main one who speaks English though the rest of the main staff speak English well enough. The menu is fairly straight forward and everything has English translations as well as prices. The most expensive item is the Crab Omelette coming in at a whopping 1000 Bhat, or USD$31.
We placed our orders of food and drinks. The beer came immediately. The food however takes a few minutes. Why? Because it is literally Jay Fai herself and only herself cooking every dish that every table orders. The other kitchen staff are merely there to help plate/ get ingredients and hep Jay Fai out. As such, while it takes at time more than half an hour for your food to come, you can literally see Jay Fai cooking away and it is quality and craft guruanteed as there is only one chef, no sous chef or trainee.
We ordered Crab Omelette, Drunken Noodles, Curry Crab and Dry Tom Yum. All were absolutely fantastic. While the Crab Omelette lived up to the hype, perfectly crunchy fried egg on the outside, cut it open to reveal heap of giant juicy sweet chunks of crab, it was a few other dishes that for us were exceptional. The Drunken Noodle was by far the best I have ever had, I am not sure what it was but in her sauce there is a little something extra that allows the flavor profile of each bite to evolve. Curry Crab was also incredible, a dry curry dish but the crab was once again giant and fresh and the curry sauce was perfect.
I dont remember the exact final bill but it was more than USD$100 for the two of us. I was glad we had reservations and in my opinion because of that and the fact that Jay Fai really does cook everything herself and that the dishes did not disappoint, I thought it was well worth my effort, time and money. I am not 100% I would feel as happy or satisfied had I waited in line outside for hours, thankfully they have seats and its not standing in the Bangkok heat/humidity.
If you have plans to be in Bangkok, definitely have your hotel concierge or local friend/family help make a reservation two months ahead of your planned visit to Raan Jay Fai. Oh and dont worry, at 9PM there was plenty of Crab Omelette and Curry to go around.
Raan Jay Fai (google maps has 2 pins for the restaurant, either is correct)
327 Maha Chai Rd, Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Reservations recommended, open 2 months out
Take taxi or Grab.