BANGKOK: In a city famous for street food, a roadside restaurant in Bangkok with plastic tables and simple but sumptuous fare has earned one of the dining scene’s highest honours: a Michelin star.
Jay Fai, named after the 72-year-old proprietor who took over from her father, is located in old Bangkok and features an open-air kitchen known for churning out crab omelettes and curries.
Though classified as street food, Jay Fai is more expensive than your average roadside stall, with a typical speciality costing upwards of US$20.
It was the only streetside establishment listed in Michelin’s first-ever Bangkok guide released on Wednesday (Dec 6), which said the Thai capital’s culinary scene was as “diverse as it is surprising”.
A total of 17 restaurants in the city serving up a mix of Thai and international cuisine received either one or two stars, though none clinched the coveted three-star rating.
Jay Fai cooks the food herself while wearing large goggles to deal with the endless steam from the dishes.
The accolade was a welcome one even if the owner was not so familiar with the company behind it.
“Before, I knew the Michelin name but I did not know it had to do with cooking,” she told AFP after obtaining the star.
“I am very proud,” she said, adding that she must be back in the kitchen Thursday. “We do not have a lot of staff because I’m a bit difficult and crazy.”
Jay Fai’s newfound stature comes at a tough time for food stalls in Bangkok. City officials, backed by the military government, are attempting to unclutter the streets by pushing vendors into hawker centres as in Singapore.