Other than noodles, the greatest contribution the Chinese have made to Thai cooking, at least in my opinion, is khao tom. The Thai words literally mean “boiled rice,” but in this case they refer to restaurants that serve a variety Chinese/Thai dishes to order, often with small bowls of watery rice. One of my favourite khao tom places in Bangkok is Khao Tom Jay Suay, an ancient shophouse restaurant in Chinatown. The restaurant is colloquially known as Khao Tom Roy Pee, “100 Year Old Khao Tom,” but I was told it’s really only about 50 years old.
You can recognise Khao Tom Jay Suay by the vast table out front holding the restaurant’s huge array of raw ingredients, mostly different types of vegetables:
Directly behind this, and shown at the top of this post, a fellow works a station with several prepared dishes. These include several types of meats and fish, a few stir-fried dishes and soups such as jap chai, a type of vegetable-heavy Chinese stew. He shouts the orders out to two additional stations within the restaurant, a soup station and a separate stir-fry station, and as far as I could tell, no order is recorded on paper.
Must-order dishes at Jay Suay include the delicious smoked duck; muu phat nam liap, minced pork fried with salted Chinese olive; the previously-mentioned jap chai; and any flash-fried veggie dish. On our visit we ordered all of these, as well as a stink bean stir-fry, a tom yam of squid and mushrooms, and a salad of plaa salit thot, a type of deep-fried fish:
You’ll be sitting on the side of a smelly street and it will inevitably be hot, but the food is full-flavoured and excellent.
Khao Tom Jay Suay
547 Thanon Phlap Phla Chai
02 223 9592
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