327 Maha Chai Rd., Phra Nakhon
Don’t go to the bathroom at Jay Fai (that’s what the locals this joint), located in the Old City. Go to the bathroom before you leave your hotel or after dinner. (It’s too gross for words.) But definitely go to Jay Fai! It was by far my favorite meal in not just Bangkok, but all of Thailand. And I ate everywhere. I ate on the streets and fancy hotels, in formal restaurants and in dives. I’m still thinking about the incredible Crab Omelet (Kai-jeaw poo) I ate there. The egg itself was fluffy and sweet, subtly flavored with fish sauce, and studded with not strands or even shreds of crab, but huge hunks of sweet crabmeat. The perfect complement, as you quickly learn in Thailand, to any omelet is a sweet chile sauce that you’ll want to pour on just about everything. (But don’t do that.) Jay Fai may not look like much (at all!), but the flavors and the seafood coming out of this kitchen are to-die-for. I liken it to the Le Bernardin of Bangkok sans the atmosphere. In keeping with that analogy, the food, by Thailand’s standards, is pricey at Jay Fai, which seems strange at a place where you need to bring your own napkins. But it’s so very worth it.
This is “Mama Cucina” at its finest. The chef, Mrs. Fai, is practically a one man show. I mean she has assistants, but she’s the only one who actually cooks your food, so be prepared to wait awhile for your food. As I said before, it’s utterly worth it. Afterall, there are reasons people wait in lines for a table here and why they brave the bathroom. It might be the Crab Omelet, or perhaps the Drunken Noodles (Phad-kee-mao Talay), wide slippery noodles, tinted with a dark soy sauce, and mingled with a fistful of fresh Thai basil, fresh red chilies and a spicy sauce that jolts your tastebuds into awake. Spice fearer or fire eater, you can’t help but fall in love with this magnificently balanced dish. And lest I not forget all of the seafood in it — terrifically fresh prawns and squid. Ooh, and there’s Stir-fried Crispy Noodles (Sen-mee Kua Goong) with egg and Prawns served over fresh lettuce, which you can use for wrapping the crazily crunchy noodles up with the seafood. There’s triple crispy noodles with gravy, and stir-fried rice noodles with fresh bell peppers, chili and mountains of seafood. Go hungry, order a lot and don’t miss the Crab Omelet. There’s no dessert here and only beer to drink – a cold Singha is the perfect thing to wash down all that outrageously good seafood.