11 months ago

July_Aug UK Chef

  • Text
  • Michelin
  • Chefs
  • Mayfair
  • Restaurants
  • Culinary
  • Ingredients
  • Kerridge
  • Tbsp
  • Cuisine
  • Tomatoes

The Queen of Curbside

The Queen of Curbside Cuisine Episode One shines a massive spotlight on this 75-year-old queen of curbside cuisine, the demand for a table at Raan Jay Fai has never been greater. So is it worth it? Can it possibly live up to the hype? Well, if you can endure the long waits and stiff prices then definitely, yes! The dishes themselves are everything Thai street food can and should be—spicy, fragrant, perfectly cooked, and bursting with flavour. The hefty price tags are simply the result of Chef Jay Fai’s insistence that all of the ingredients and produce used must be of the best quality, and that doesn’t come cheap (even in Thailand). Enjoying Chef Jay Fai’s cuisine is the easy part; the hard part is actually scoring one of the mere half dozen tables at any given hour of the day. If you’re not on the advanced waiting list you 34 are allowed to join the daily queue of hopefuls trying to snag any last minute spots that might come available. This involves showing up in person at 11am, putting your name on a numbered waiting list, and then returning at 2pm, when the restaurant opens for business, and waiting for your number to be called. Our party of four dutifully followed the outlined procedure, ending up at #20 on the day’s list and finally getting seated at 6:20pm. By that time we were starving, which made the food taste even better. During our four-hour wait we took turns venturing off to explore the surrounding Old Town area, but as number 20 got closer and closer to being called we diligently stayed put. It was interesting at that point to observe the assembled crowd of like-minded hopefuls, who by and large were young (20s and

30s) and seemed to represent every corner of the globe judging from the languages we detected—German, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Filipino, and most variations of English. The wait time also allows for ample viewing of Chef Jay Fai herself, who works in an open-air cooking area that faces the street. It’s here, with her trademark aviator goggles firmly strapped on, that she toils five nights a week—Tuesday through Saturday, from 2pm till midnight—over a trio of open flame burners. It’s less like a kitchen and more like a triage unit, where food orders come in at a furious pace and Jay Fai deftly handles each emergency in turn; her sizzling hot woks, pots, and pans churning out an unending series of perfectly browned crab omlettes, piping hot orders of stir-fried noodles, and steaming bowls of seafood tom yum soup (just a few of the many items on 35