Jay So originally comes from Yasothon, if I remember correctly, and opened her eponymous northeastern Thai restaurant in Bangkok's Silom area more than a decade ago. She's cheeky and boisterous, and eating at her place, with the smell of plaa raa (fermented fish) and the sound of the northeastern Thai dialect being spoken, is probably not unlike eating at restaurant in her home province. I've been eating here for years, and despite not having been back in a long while, she still somehow remembered that I like my som tam without sugar.
Jay So's dishes run the standard Isan (northeastern) repertoire, and with one exception, are solid, but not amazing. Of course she does several types of som tam (papaya salad), including som tam lao:
Lao-style som tam, made with fermented fish, salted crab, crispy eggplant and dried chilies. We also ordered som tam khai khem, a Thai-style som tam (ie made bottled fish sauce and including peanuts and dried ship) with salted egg:
There's kai yaang:
grilled chicken, which is really just OK, and a not-so-subtle tom saep, a spicy/sour broth of pork bones:
But the real reason to eat at Jay So's is the plaa duk yaang, grilled catfish:
It's not the most photogenic dish in the world, but you'll have to take my word for it. Before grilling, Jay So stuffs the necks of the fish with a coarse paste of lemongrass, garlic and salt, providing them a delicious herbal flavour. The skin is crispy and lightly seasoned as well, and on a good day, the meat is just a touch dry, like I prefer it.
So although Jay So's standard menu and occasionally heavy-handed seasoning may fall short of an exceptional Isaan eating experience, it's a welcoming and chaotically cozy place, and there's always the catfish.
Jay So 146/1 Soi Phiphat 2 085 999 4225 10am-5.30pm Mon-Sat
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