Bangkok street food vendor gets Michelin star

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Auntie Fay at work

A street food vendor in Bangkok’s old town received a Michelin star in the inaugural edition of the Michelin guide for the Thai capital, along with 16 high-class restaurants.

Seventy-year-old Jay Fai, or Auntie Fai, makes wok-fired dishes from a street shop called Raan Jay Fai in a small side-soi at 327 Maha Chai Road.

She is known for her delicious noodles with prawns and crab cooked over charcoal fires, and particularly her crab omelet. She can be easily spotted as she always wears ski goggles to protect her eyes from the hot oil sloshing around giant woks in her tiny shop house.

Jay Fai said she was “exited” when she accepted the award on December 4 at the five-star Grand Hyatt Bangkok hotel, dressed in a white chef’s outfit.

Her humble shop house started selling street food some 40 years ago, event guests learned. Since it has become one of the city’s most-revered culinary institutions, with chefs and restaurateurs singing Jay Fai’s praises and patrons queue up nightly for heaping portions of phad kee mao talay (drunken noodles with seafood), poo phad phong karee (stir-fried crab with yellow curry) and her legendary khai jeaw poo (crab omelet).

However, some customers are not so comfortable with her prices as the portions come at up to 1,000 baht ($31) each, which makes them around twelve times more expensive than ordinary street food and is in line with those at fancy restaurants. She defends herself saying that this goes into the top-quality food she uses and adds that “If people don’t like the prices, they can go elsewhere.”

“Our inspectors were thrilled to find a local culinary scene with an amazing vibrancy, myriad new restaurants, an astonishing variety of wonderful street food, but also Thai cuisine served in different forms,” said Michelin’s international director Michael Ellis in a statement.

Besides Bangkok, so far, Michelin has only awarded street food vendors in its Hong Kong and Singapore guides with a star, which changed their business significantly. For example, after appearing in the Michelin guide for Singapore as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal, chicken-rice and noodle hawker Chan Hon Meng has been catapulted to international stardom and now exports his stall to Taiwan, Thailand and Australia.

Among the other restaurants, three received two stars, namely French restaurant Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, European restaurant Mezzaluna at the Lebua Hotel, and contemporary Indian restaurant Gaggan.

One star each was awarded to Bo.Lan, Nahm, Paste, Saneh Jaan, Savelberg, Suhring, Chim by Siam Wisdom, Elements, Ginza Sushi Ichi, J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain, L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, Suhring and Upstairs at Mikkeller.

No three-star venues have been named in the first Michelin edition for Bangkok, while 81 others without star were mentioned as recommended.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Auntie Fay at work

A street food vendor in Bangkok’s old town received a Michelin star in the inaugural edition of the Michelin guide for the Thai capital, along with 16 high-class restaurants.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Auntie Fay at work

A street food vendor in Bangkok’s old town received a Michelin star in the inaugural edition of the Michelin guide for the Thai capital, along with 16 high-class restaurants.

Seventy-year-old Jay Fai, or Auntie Fai, makes wok-fired dishes from a street shop called Raan Jay Fai in a small side-soi at 327 Maha Chai Road.

She is known for her delicious noodles with prawns and crab cooked over charcoal fires, and particularly her crab omelet. She can be easily spotted as she always wears ski goggles to protect her eyes from the hot oil sloshing around giant woks in her tiny shop house.

Jay Fai said she was “exited” when she accepted the award on December 4 at the five-star Grand Hyatt Bangkok hotel, dressed in a white chef’s outfit.

Her humble shop house started selling street food some 40 years ago, event guests learned. Since it has become one of the city’s most-revered culinary institutions, with chefs and restaurateurs singing Jay Fai’s praises and patrons queue up nightly for heaping portions of phad kee mao talay (drunken noodles with seafood), poo phad phong karee (stir-fried crab with yellow curry) and her legendary khai jeaw poo (crab omelet).

However, some customers are not so comfortable with her prices as the portions come at up to 1,000 baht ($31) each, which makes them around twelve times more expensive than ordinary street food and is in line with those at fancy restaurants. She defends herself saying that this goes into the top-quality food she uses and adds that “If people don’t like the prices, they can go elsewhere.”

“Our inspectors were thrilled to find a local culinary scene with an amazing vibrancy, myriad new restaurants, an astonishing variety of wonderful street food, but also Thai cuisine served in different forms,” said Michelin’s international director Michael Ellis in a statement.

Besides Bangkok, so far, Michelin has only awarded street food vendors in its Hong Kong and Singapore guides with a star, which changed their business significantly. For example, after appearing in the Michelin guide for Singapore as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal, chicken-rice and noodle hawker Chan Hon Meng has been catapulted to international stardom and now exports his stall to Taiwan, Thailand and Australia.

Among the other restaurants, three received two stars, namely French restaurant Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, European restaurant Mezzaluna at the Lebua Hotel, and contemporary Indian restaurant Gaggan.

One star each was awarded to Bo.Lan, Nahm, Paste, Saneh Jaan, Savelberg, Suhring, Chim by Siam Wisdom, Elements, Ginza Sushi Ichi, J’aime by Jean-Michel Lorain, L’atelier de Joel Robuchon, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, Suhring and Upstairs at Mikkeller.

No three-star venues have been named in the first Michelin edition for Bangkok, while 81 others without star were mentioned as recommended.

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