Jay Fai is probably the most famous place in town to get phat khii mao ('drunkards' stir-fry'), the spicy fried noodle dish that, like the name suggests, seems to combine just about everything in the kitchen. People go to Jay Fai because the noodles are good, but her restaurant might actually be more famous because the noodles are expensive. Now, 200 baht (about $7) may seem like chump change to those of you reading this in the West, but it's a helluvalot for noodles here in Bangkok. Expectations run high.
I got there at 5pm, just as she was opening, which meant having to wait through a lengthy prayer and offering session at her spirit altar. Jay Fai began by pouring a good half-litre of cooking oil into a smoking hot wok. This was followed by two large prawns. After deep-frying these, she tilted the wok to pour out nearly every last drop of oil, reassuring me the entire time that "It won't be oily, it won't be oily..." And indeed, without adding any additional oil, she followed with the rest of the ingredients: the wide noodles known as sen yai, squid (both fresh and pickled), minced garlic, crab meat, chopped green beans, long slices of carrot, baby corn, palm heart, shiitake mushrooms, and finally, a healthy handful of holy basil leaves and a dollop of fresh chilies. While she sprinkled the lot with fish sauce, she explained that if the mixture stuck, she loosened it with a bit of broth, not more oil. The result:
was delicious: meaty, smoky, garlicky and only slightly oily. Was it worth 200 baht? Taste is subjective; try it yourself and decide. I'll certainly be back.
327 Thanon Mahachai
02 223 9384