[Bangkok, Thailand] Sen Yai Pad Kee Mao from Raan Jay Fai ( เจ๊ไฝ)

LOL! I think Raan Jay Fai’s case is an extreme one.

But Singapore’s own 1-Michelin-star hawker, HK Soysauce Chicken & Noodle, experienced the same spike in demand initially. It subsequently opened a larger branch, with higher prices. Standards have fallen, too - which is why many of us were perplexed when it retained its Michelin star on the second year.

FYI Raan Jay Fai now can be reserved via email, so I assume the lines can be bypassed. She is also now resting 2 days a week - on Sundays and Mondays.

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Whoa, Jay Fai to appear in the pilot of a new Netflix series, Street Food.

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There’s got to be a workable solution to this.

On the one hand, I am the exact audience for Michelin guides, forum post scrolling, blog reading, food-hunting obsessions. On the other hand, people like me, tons of them, have a habit of ‘ruining’ the experience of these gems simply by dent of overwhelming the venue. And who are we to chide the proprietors for enjoying their newfound fame (and profit)? They certainly deserve it.

How do we find, curate, and communicate great food discoveries without destroying the experience?

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I don’t know that you can publish reviews of great cafes, or great beaches/islands, for that matter, without running the very real risk of ruining exactly what you love so much. Too much popularity can destroy a cafe just as surely as too little. Adapting to huge crowds is difficult for any business owner and some of the best small cafe owner/chefs are chefs first and business people second.
I used to be a long term traveler, spending 10 or 11 months at a time moving from island to island in SE Asia. There was a very real reluctance to share favorite islands among many of the travelers. We had seen what had happened to Ko Samui first, then Ko Phangan and Ko Tao. The last time I went to Ko Tarutao I just about cried to see the development and pollution. I have a photo of some artwork that was done by a Ko Tao artist back in 2008 about the progression of events on Ko Tao that pretty accurately sums up the rush to welcome and then regret large amounts of customers.
The same can sometimes, perhaps frequently, happen to a very good small cafe that receives well deserved but ultimately destructive fame.


Yet another accolade for 76-year-old Jay Fai.

Supinya ‘Jay Fai’ Junsuta wins Icon Award for Asia (finedininglovers.com)

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With tourists virtually gone because of the pandemic, it’s a cinch to to get a table at Jay Fai these days. But it’s facing challenges from COVID even from within:

Canadian chef-TV host, David Rocco, featured Jay Fai in his Bangkok episode of Dolce Southeast Asia last night.

As per their Instagram account, appears that Jay Fai currently only does take-outs:

It is cool to see news from a world I haven’t been a part of for so many years. I never braved the line at Raan Jay Fai. I usually had the iced coffee at Petit Peyton and then had the egg wrapped shrimp pad Thai at Thipsamai just up the street. I wish I could visit Thailand now that the tourist lines are a thing of the past! I had the remarkably bad timing of deciding on an early retirement 3 months before Covid hit…

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Thai iced coffee and egg-wrapped shrimp pad Thai from Thip Samai would make as good a meal as any!

This COVID lockdown simply won’t last forever - let’s keep our fingers crossed and look forward to the day when we can all visit Thailand again.

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Peter, thank you for all the time you put into your reviews of restaurants! I have read at least 20 or 30 of them and you really have the knowledge of the cuisines that a lot of us wish we had! LOL!
As you say, Covid will wane eventually, and when I get back to SE Asia, I will be looking at your reviews, from Singapore to KL to Penang and through Thailand. When I do I will post to add my two cents worth.
Crossing my fingers that I will be able to… That we ALL will be able to travel safely soon!


Drop me a message when you can come down this way again, especially if you come to Penang. We can catch up and have a bite.

I will do that! Penang has some excellent cafes that I need to either return to or try out.
I didn’t realize you live in or near Penang. I heard one of my old hangouts had a fire a few years ago but I don’t know if it was bad or not. Have you heard anything about the old Hong Kong Bar after the fire? I have read online both that it lost all its memorabilia and in other stories it looks like most were just water damaged. I used to drink a cold beer and read the journals they kept under the bar. I would hate to hear it if they had been lost. I can’t believe how long it has been since I was in that bar.

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I just moved to Penang in 2017, and had been here since.

My last foodie trip was in March 2020 with a bunch of Singaporean food writers - we were in Hue, Vietnam. We went to a whole bunch of amazing places there - all good.

From Hue, I’d flown straight back to Singapore to visit family and friends, and then got back to Penang just a week before Malaysia went into a complete lockdown for 3 months! Then, the international borders closed. Since then, we’ve been having a series of rolling lockdowns, where the SOPs for social distancing, restaurant dining-in, etc. were alternately loosened, then tightened, depending on the new COVID infection numbers. It’s driving everybody crazy here.

As far as I know, Hong Kong Bar is still there on Chulia Street - I see the signage every so often when I passed by the place. But I think, like other drinking spots in Penang, it stayed closed during most of the lockdown periods since last year.

The big fire was back in 2004 (I was still living in Singapore at the time), where they lost quite a bit of their memorabilia collection. But when I walked past Hong Kong Bar before the COVID period, I do see quite a bit still displayed. I’m not sure if its actual location along Chulia Street has changed, since I wasn’t too familiar with that area before my move to Penang.

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Hue is one of my favorite cities! Considering the history of the place I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the locals were to this American. My clearest memories are of the friendly Bia Hoi joints and the Bun Bo Hue cafes. I must have sampled about 4 versions of Bun Bo Hue while I was there, each one a treat! I usually wear a white long sleeve cotton shirt in hot locales, it had little red dots all over the front of it by the time I left Hue, courtesy of the BBH splashes… I wore them like badges of honor! LOL!
Have a great day! I am off to ride a couple miles on my bike and get some fresh air.
On edit: I just saw the picture at the top of your Hue link. Third clearest memory. Vietnamese women wearing the Ao Dai. Simply beautiful.

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The Vietnamese have clearly moved on from the “Vietnam War” era. They very much welcomed Americans, as much as they do every other foreigner, except for the Mainland Chinese! A lot of regional rivalry still going on between Vietnam and China.

The Gladiator meets Jay Fai! :grin: :muscle:


went back to Jay Fai in Sep. Didn’t queue as I got a chef friend to book a table for us.

She still cooks the crab omelet and it tastes just as good as before. Price now THB 1,400.

The pad kee mao and the dry congee were poor. The gigantic prawns have no flavor. They were undoubtedly cooked separately before and just thrown in at the last minute. The best was the tom yum noodle soup as the prawns could absorb the flavors from the soup.

Probably wouldn’t go back again.


Sad to hear that Jay Fai had allowed her previously stringent standards to slip. Her sen yai pad kee mai was what made her famous all those years back.

I used to eat next door at Thipsamai fairly frequently. When I was a youthful backpacker the 90B version there was all I could afford. I think Jay Fai was 300B or $8US at the time and I thought that that was too expensive. LOL!
So I went back a few years ago as an “adult traveler” and tried to eat there but the line was crazy long. I do not think I ever got to try Jay Fai’s version at its peak, and now it may never be the same quality. My loss.
But I do like the deluxe seafood version at Thipsamai, it is a princely 700B now and really good, just not great.
And the iced coffees across the Street at Peyton are really good.


I remembered we had a discussion about Thip Samai a while back. Just checked - it was more than 7 years ago now. How time flies!!

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