BANGKOK – With her iconic ski goggles, Supinya Junsuta, kickstarts the roaring fire to prepare her famous crab omelette at the only street food restaurant in Thailand to be honored with a Michelin star.
The 74-year-old was awarded her second straight Michelin Star last week in the restaurant guide latest edition for Bangkok.
“You have to pay attention and use top quality products. The eggs and the crab have to be fresh. I always buy the crab directly from the farm in Nakhon Si Thammarat (south of Bangkok),” Junsuta, better known as Jay Fai, told EFE on Wednesday.
Donning huge goggles to protect her from the sparks which leap up from the ceramic stove, Fai skilfully tames the charcoal flames as she prepares her signature dish in large curved woks.
After seeing an initial spike in foot traffic following last year’s award, she says she can barely cope with the near-constant stream of customers, who have to reserve a table or face a wait of up to two hours to be seated at this modest eatery in the Thai capital.
The restaurant, which bears more similarities with a garage than an eatery, contrasts sharply with the luxury of the other Thailand-based recipients of a coveted Michelin star.
Fai’s signature dish, crab omelettes which cost 1,000 baht (around $30) are served on plastic plates.
According to the veteran cook, the quality of her shellfish justifies the cost of her dishes, which is much higher than those of other street food joints.
With a crispy exterior and a soft center stuffed with crab, the omelette delights diners from all over the world, who sit on stools amid bluish-tiled walls and paper napkins.
“We met some friends who told us about this restaurant, and we have come to find out,” EFE Vera Maia, a 38-year-old Portuguese tourist who waited more than two hours to get a table, told EFE.
According to the Michelin guide, “the modest street food stall is known for its small outdoor kitchen, where tasty curried crabs, rice broth and crab omelettes are cooked over homemade charcoal.”
Another of her famous dishes is the “sen yai pad ki mao,” or ‘drunken’ broad rice noodles with fish sauce, pepper, basil and chillies with prawns.
Even before she was honored with the star last year, luxury cars parked next to the restaurant and long queues of taxi drivers and executives were already a common sight.
“I feel sorry for my old customers; they are like family to me (...). Nowadays they don’t usually come because we have the new reservation system due to the higher volume of customers. I miss them,” said Fai, before adding that the French award has been the greatest honor of her life.
“I was not aware of this award before, but I feel very happy and proud,” she said.
Street food is very popular in Thailand and across Southeast Asia; two stalls in Singapore have also been honored by the Michelin guide.