11 months ago

July_Aug UK Chef

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36 her varied menu). She

36 her varied menu). She is aided by a handful of assistants that flit back and forth, delivering this or taking away that, while she herself remains firmly rooted in place, always within an arm’s length of the bright orange flames. When our number is called, and we finally get seated, we greedily order six ample entrées, including two of the signature crab omlettes. The torpedo-shaped omlettes arrive at the table first, and they are huge. Cutting them open lengthwise reveals a fleshy white interior made up almost entirely of plump, tender chunks of fresh Nakhon Si Thammarat crab. It’s so good that we immediately forget the drudgery of our tedious, four-and-a-halfhour wait. Somehow, it’s all been worth it. The sharing portion dishes that follow include a plate of yummy yellow crab curry (which is even more expensive than the omlette), Jay Fai’s signature “drunken noodles” with seafood, a heaping cauldron of super spicy tom yum soup with jumbo prawns and perfectly cooked squid rings, and a tasty fried rice dish. The servings are big, and we can barely finish it all, and when the final bill comes the meal plus drinks clocks in at just over THB 2,000 per person (around US). Yes, it’s the most

Bangkok Battles Street Food Ban Back in 2016 Bangkok residents first started to hear about the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s (BMA) plan to remove street food hawkers from certain downtown streets. The situation got worse in March of 2017 when the BMA announced that vendors in three popular upscale neighborhoods— Thonglor, Ekkamai, and Phra Khanong—had until mid-April to pack up and move on. A short time later the BMA was reported to have announced that street food would be eradicated from all 50 districts by the end of the year, although they quickly backpedalled on the issue, hastily telling a CNN reporter that their representative had been misquoted. To 99.9% of the city’s population it seemed unthinkable that there was suddenly a government sponsored “war on street food”, and the public outcry was fierce. Since that time only a handful of Bangkok’s street food hot spots have been wiped out entirely—which is still a handful too many—and for the most part the average residential city street is still lined with enough food carts to keep the local citizenry from starving. The question remains why stamping out this vital aspect of daily life in Thailand seems a sane path for the BMA to pursue, especially since worldwide interest in street food has never been I’ve ever spent on street food since moving to Thailand 10 years ago, but it’s the street food experience that I will now measure all others against. Before leaving I chat briefly with Jay Fai’s daughter, Yuawadee Junsuta, as Jay Fai herself doesn’t—and to be honest, couldn’t— give interviews during work hours while she’s frantically cooking. I ask Yuawadee if her septuagenarian mother ever thinks this has all become too much, and wants to hang up her apron and retire. “No,” she answers without hesitation. “She’s never said that. She wants to keep going.” We then talk about the impact of the new Netflix show, which Yuawadee—who quit her day job to assist in her mother’s restaurant full time—admits has been attracting a somewhat younger demographic. I ask if TV fame has resulted in bigger crowds than what she witnessed after the Michelin win. “I don’t think it’s a lot more,” she replies. “I think it’s pretty similar. But because we experienced what happened with Michelin before, after Netflix we were pretty much prepared for it.” Chef greater. In a nutshell, the real problem has to do with the taxes that the no-fixed-address street vendors allegedly don’t pay, although the BMA usually cites hygiene concerns as the primary need for regulation. It’s quite a ridiculous excuse as Bangkok’s true hygiene and cleanliness problems are the filthy canals and rivers, the toxic polluted air, and the impromptu garbage dumps found in every vacant lot. It’s probably safe to say that in this lifetime street food won’t completely disappear from the thoroughfares of Bangkok, but it will get slowly pushed further and further to the fringes in certain upmarket areas; leaving in its wake a surfeit of bland, chain restaurants and soulless faux bistros that will likely have more staff than customers. 37