Our journey to visit Raan Jay Fai in Maha Chai road led us to embark on an extraordinary experience of taking their public canal boat service on one of the notoriously polluted waterway in BKK city.
Originally we wanted to hire a taxi to get from Pratunam to Maha Chai but the helpful concierge staff from Novotel told us a faster way of getting there without being caught in the bad traffic jam: Take the canal boat, it cost only B10 (S$0.40) per person. Cheap and fast. It was an exciting suggestion and we gamely took the challenge of navigating across BKK city in their canal boat~
Gingerly we strutted over to the nearby Pratunam Pier and waited at the pier filled with mostly locals for the canal boat. Since it was the first time we were taking their canal boat, we nervously observed how it works. Once the boat arrives, passengers climbed out from the boat agilely while others hop on it effortlessly and sat on one of the planks spanning across the boat before the boat moves off swiftly~
This unique adventure offered us a glimpse of daily lives of ordinary Thai residents. Apparently the canal boats are a common transport used by the office workers during the peak hours (we sat in a packed boat when we were caught in the peak hour after our meal) and backyards of shophouses lined the canal…which meant we saw gardens/kitchens/yards of the households living beside the canal.
We alighted at Phan Fa Pier which is the final stop for the boat service and took a short walk to arrive at Raan Jay Fai easily.
Since we reached at an odd hour of 4pm, the place only had 1 other couple dining there. I’ve read that the wait can be quite long during dinner time and I can understand why…We waited for 20 mins before our food were ready as all the dishes were prepared by 1 chef – the lady with a mole~ She looked cool wearing a ski googles and a beanie while cooking.
Ordered their Phad-kee-mao Talay Drunken Noodles with Seafood which cost B400 = S$16 – many folks will find it costly for a non air-con stall in a shophouse in BKK. But this stir-fried rice noodle with hot and spicy sauce, basil leaves and fresh chili, made with a selection of seafood is touted to be one of the best in BKK. While waiting for our dishes we saw many framed newspaper articles featuring the masterchef, including one visit by Martha Stewart.
The 20 mins wait meant we had time to observe chef in action at her open-kitchen. We heard the humming of the huge industrial fan, roaring sound of the gas stoves, saw the bright flames heating up the woks, smelled the choking chilli in the air before we could taste the legendary plate of noodles.
Our food order also included the must-try Kai-jeaw poo Crab meat omelette (range B800-B1,000 = S$30-40). The golden brown “pillow” was the most expensive item on our table. Although any Thai meal wouldn’t be complete without the Tom Yum soup, we felt we’ve had enough of it at other places and decided to try the Tod-man Goong Homemade prawn cake (B400 = S$16).
The Drunken Noodles included fresh succulent prawns, squid and chunky crab meat etc, although the main highlight were the thick, chewy slabs of “hor fun” type rice noodles. The rice noodles were coated with a peppery, sweet and savoury gravy along with the smoky “wok-hei” flavour.
Upon cutting through the crispy outer egg skin wrapping the omelette, the cross-section of the revealed thick chunks of crab meat inside. The generous use of sweet crab meat explains why this unassuming dish cost B800-B1,000.
The prawn cake coated with a layer of cornflour before being fried to form a nice crunchy crust with a bouncy and chewy texture inside, served with sweet-chilli sauce.
By the time we finished our meal at around 5pm, the dinner crowd hasn’t arrived. The rather stern looking chef who was preparing her ingredients broke into a big charming smile as we bid goodbye to her~ I vividly remembered the prominent mole on her face and the bright red lipsticks she had on her =)
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