Bangkok’s ‘street food queen’ Jay Fai is Icon awardee for Asia in 2021

February 5, 2021 - 11:58 AM
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This composite photo shows Bangkok chef Supinya Junsuta, popularly known as “Jay Fai” and her famous crab meat omelette. (Asia's 50 Best Restaurants/Released)

Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants on Thursday announced that Bangkok chef Supinya Junsuta, popularly known as “Jay Fai” won the Icon Award for Asia this year.

Jay Fai, dubbed as the “queen of Thai street food,” has been voted by more than 300 members of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy.

“A purist with a passion for blending culinary traditions with innovation, Jay Fai embodies the spirit of Asian gastronomy. Her unwavering dedication to her craft has earned her the respect of her peers and makes her a worthy recipient of this year’s Icon Award,” William Drew, director for content of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, said.

Icon honors culinary figures “who have made an outstanding contribution to their community and the broader restaurant industry.”

For her part, 76-year-old Jay Fai, has been cooking at her open-air shophouse for more than 40 years. She turned her modest restaurant into the covered destination for celebrities and VIPS from within Thailand and from across the world.

She is mostly known for offering her personal interpretations of popular Thai dishes such as yellow crab curry (poo pad phong karee), drunken noodles with seafood (pad kee mao talay) and tom yum soup. She is also famous for her acclaimed crab meat omelette (khai jiao poo) at her Raan Jay Fai restaurant.

In 2018, her restaurant became the first and only street food venue in Thailand to earn a Michelin star. Her sole focus, however, remains serving the queues of diners who flock nightly to her seven-table restaurant.

Jay Fai’s celebrity status was reinforced in 2019 after being featured on Netflix’s “Street Food: Asia.” The series also introduced culinary personalities from Osaka, Japan; Delhi, India; Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Chiayi, Taiwan; Seoul, South Korea; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Singapore and Cebu, Philippines.

The Thai chef is grateful to be recognized for her hard work and craftmanship.

“This is truly the reward of a lifetime for an ordinary chef like me. But most importantly, I hope everyone can learn from my story that dedication, hard work and patience can help you achieve your goals,” Jay Fai said.

As the 2021 recipient of the Icon Award, she joins a prestigious line-up of recent winners, including Japanese chefs Seiji Yamamoto and Yoshihiro Murata.

Her achievement will be highlighted as part of the online ceremony for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 slated March 25. This year’s event is sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.