A Thai street food seller, Jay Fai, has won a prized star in Bangkok’s first Michelin guide - the only street food vendor to do so.
Jay Fai (or Auntie Fai - “Jay” means “auntie” in Thai), who is 70, is known for her fiery noodles with prawns and crab, cooked over steaming charcoal, and her crab omelettes and yellow crab curry.
Auntie Fai’s restaurant was the only street food vendor awarded a star.
Famously, she never uses MSG, something of a rarity in the Thai street food world. She’s been cooking at her small restaurant, where diners sit at plastic tables, for four decades, and though her food is slightly pricier than most of Bangkok’s street food, customers line up day after day to sample the goods. She defended her prices to Vice, saying that the amount she charges reflects her value of her workers and Thai cuisine itself. "I think we should value our own seafood and cuisine the way the Japanese and other cultures do. I pay my staff well and I use the best ingredients. If people don't like the prices, they can go elsewhere."
The first Bangkok Michelin guide has awarded stars to 17 restaurants, though no restaurant scored three stars (the highest Michelin accolade). The guide also included 28 street food recommendations, though only those with a physical address (so no mobile food carts) were included. Auntie Fai’s restaurant was the only street food vendor awarded a star.
The guide comes after a turbulent year for street food owners, who were told in April that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration were planning to ban street food in an effort to clean up the city. After substantial public protest, the BMA did not put the ban in place, choosing instead to enact stricter guidelines for hygiene and waste removal.