Supinya Junsuta - Jay Fai

Bangkok – Metropolitan Region of Bangkok

Jay Fai 2023 09 18 10 41 58

From the 1980s to 2023, an incredible evolution: from her mother's simple recipes to serving MICHELIN-Starred street food. The queen of Bangkok's gastronomic scene is Supinya Junsuta, known as Jay Fai in honor of her restaurant "Raan Jay Fai," also the winner of the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Icon Award 2021.

Born in the 1940s in Bangkok to a family of Chinese immigrants, Supinya Junsuta, later known as Jay Fai, was always in contact with food. However, contrary to what one might think, cooking was not her initial passion. Her parents sold kuaitiao khua kai, chicken noodles, for a living, aided by Supinya and her younger sister, who was more skilled in the kitchen. Given her lack of affinity for the culinary world, Supinya chose a different career path and worked as a seamstress for several years before a tragic fire forced her to abandon the profession.

At that point, around the age of 30, she decided to follow in her parents' footsteps. In the 1980s, she opened her own street food restaurant, "Raan Jay Fai," where she initially offered almost exclusively her mother's dishes, noodles, and congee. Over time, she began to experiment, adding her personal touch and diversifying the menu: she incorporated seafood, sourced high-quality ingredients despite the challenges, and consequently began charging more for her dishes. The restaurant quickly gained notoriety, becoming one of the most famous spots on Mahachai Road and then in the city. In 1999, Bangkok Post's food critic Ung-aang Talay, better known as Bob Halliday, described Jay Fai as one of those increasingly rare "Mozarts of the pan" who could transform ordinary dishes into local culinary masterpieces.

Over the years, the fame of "Raan Jay Fai" has spread beyond Bangkok and Thailand. Among her famous patrons, Martha Stewart proclaimed her the best cook in Thailand. Then came MICHELIN's review, and in its inaugural Thai edition in 2018, "Raan Jay Fai" received a MICHELIN Star, the only street food restaurant to earn such an honor, joining a select few in Hong Kong and Singapore. The star led to a flood of customers, forcing Supinya to implement a reservation system, something she previously refused to do, and she had to ask one of her daughters to quit her job to help full-time at the restaurant, joining her sister who was already involved in the business.

In 2021, Jay Fai won the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Icon Award, further boosting the restaurant's popularity, which also appeared in the Netflix series 'Street Food,' attracting even more international customers. But Supinya has not been intimidated or shaken by success: never the author of a written recipe, let alone a cookbook; having already earned enough, Jay also stated that she has no intention of passing on the business to avoid imposing the hard work she has done all her life on her children. Jay Fai is now synonymous with excellence in Thai cuisine, and her legacy, firmly rooted in the alleys of Bangkok and in the hearts of food lovers, will live on for a long time.


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