THE DEBUT edition of Michelin Guide Bangkok has awarded one star to the famous street food eatery Jay Fai, which serves up high-quality seafood dishes, while three luxury establishments – Gaggan, Le Normandie and Mezzaluna – have earned two stars. No restaurant has achieved the coveted highest three-star rating.
The inaugural edition awarded 14 restaurants one star, highlighting the quality of local cuisine, as seven of them – Bo.lan, Nahm, Saneh Jaan, Chim by Siam Wisdom, Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin, Paste and Jay Fai – offer Thai food. The other one-starred restaurants are Japanese eatery Ginza Sushi ichi, three French establishments – L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, J’Aime by Jean-Michel Lorrain, Savelberg – as well as Suhring, Elements and Upstairs at Mikkeller.
Jay Fai, located in the Samranrat area, is a street-food eatery that can accommodate about 50 people. Despite its humble ambience, Jay Fai is known for premium local seafood dishes, such as crabmeat omelette priced from Bt800 to Bt2,000, and abalone noodle in gravy, which is priced up to Bt10,000.
“I still cook with a charcoal oven and carefully select only the best local ingredients,” says 72-year-old owner, Supinya Junsuta, known as Jay Fai. “Although my eatery always welcomes high-profile figures and international chefs, I didn’t expect to get a Michelin star. It’s beyond my expectations to get one star and it’s my greatest honour.”
During the past eight months, Michelin’s full-time food inspectors have made anonymous visits to restaurants to gauge their food. Restaurants are rated on such criteria as the quality of ingredients, consistency, cooking technique and flavour, the chef’s personality and value for money.
“The first edition of the Michelin Guide dedicated to Bangkok highlights the richness of the city’s diversity of gastronomy,” said Michael Ellis, international director of Michelin Guides during yesterday’s official announcement at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok.
“Thai food is recognised around the world. Everyone knows tom yum, pad thai and satay. The intense seasoning is unique to Thai cuisine, as it mixes all tastes to the palate. Thailand also has incredible street food that should be included in the selection. The first-ever Michelin Guide Bangkok will shine a spotlight on Thai foods and their dynamic culinary evolution.”
The Michelin Guide Bangkok makes Thailand the second country in Southeast Asia after Singapore and the sixth in Asia to have its own culinary reference. Recognised as the bible of culinary excellence, the red guide was first published in France more than a century ago to promote automobile travel and now covers 28 countries.
This year’s selection also features 35 restaurants that have been awarded a “Bib Gourmand” – a distinction that is as popular with chefs as it is with gourmets. It recognises favourite establishments selected by the Michelin inspectors for their good value for money, as they serve a quality menu for a maximum of Bt1,000.
On the ground, the inspectors unearthed all kinds of delights: from street-food places such as Baan Yai Phad Thai, one of the best place for pad thai, and Guay Tiew Kua Gai Suanmali, a long-standing stir-fried chicken noodle shop, to more traditional restaurants offering local and delicious Thai cuisine.
For example, Jay Oh, which serves local-style seafood and dishes in a very rustic, casual ambience and where long queues are seen every night, obtained a Bib Gourmand. Also recognised was Baannai, located in a beautiful Thai-style wooden house with a well-decorated garden serving traditional and delicate Thai food, and Soul Food Mahanakorn, which focuses on a modern cuisine.
The Michelin Guide is available in both print and digital versions. It can be found online at www.guide.michelin.com in English and Thai.