Asia Pacific

Recognition for Asia’s street food legend

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Bangkok street food chef Supinya ‘Jay Fai’ Junsuta has been announced as the recipient of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 Icon Award

Junsuta has cooked at her open-air shophouse restaurant Raan Jay Fai, which is also her nickname, for more than 40 years. She has built it up to become a destination restaurant for foodies, chefs and celebrities alike who visit from across the world to sample the wok-fried seafood dishes, the crab meat omelette in particular.

William Drew, director of content for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, says Junsuta embodies the spirit of Asian gastronomy and describes her as “a purist with a passion for blending culinary traditions with innovation.” The Icon Award is voted for by the members of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy and recognises culinary figures who have made an outstanding contribution to the community. Previous recipients include Japanese chefs Seiji Yamamoto and Yoshihiro Murata.

Unexpected fame

Junsuta worked as a seamstress for several years before starting to cook. She opened her restaurant in the 1980s and has become known the world over for the high-quality seafood cooked over charcoal fires, setting it apart from average street food fare.

In 2018 the inaugural Michelin Guide for Bangkok awarded Raan Jay Fai a star, which resulted in a sudden and unexpected surge in business for the small restaurant.

Her celebrity status was reinforced in 2019 when Netflix launched its Street Food: Asia series and devoted its premiere episode to the veteran cook.

“I am grateful to be recognised for my hard work and craftsmanship. This is truly the reward of a lifetime for an ordinary chef like me,” said Junsuta. “But most importantly, I hope everyone can learn from my story that dedication, hard work and patience can help you achieve your goals.”

This year the unveiling of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants will take place on 25 March in a virtual ceremony broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

Tina Nielsen