Quietly taking over Clay’s Smokehouse at 2932 SE Division at the tail end of 2016, Kati Portland is a family-run, all-vegetarian (and mostly vegan) Thai restaurant, now serving lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. The 45-seat spot is owned by business partners Nan Chaison and Sarah Jansala, and Sarah’s mother, Renoo Jansala, heads the kitchen, with 30 years experience.
Renoo is a lifelong chef, and she operated a restaurant in Thailand before immigrating to the United States many years ago. With that experience and $8.95 lunch specials, Kati Portland appears poised to be a hit with the neighborhood’s veg community.
While this is Chaison’s first restaurant, she has 10 years bartending experience in places like Seattle’s Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen. She’s brought that talent to Kati Portland in the form of Thai-inspired craft cocktails, like the “Kati Mai Tai,” featuring pandan-leaf-infused rum, and the “Spicy Tipsy,” inspired by Tom Yum soup. All fruit juices in the cocktails are fresh-squeezed.
Kati’s kitchen serves a mix of popular and rare Thai dishes, and on the menu, find a banana blossom salad alongside from-scratch vegan curries. “The Tom Kha is really popular, for only being open a couple weeks,” says Chaison, referring to the spicy soup with tofu, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and mushrooms. The Nam Kao Tod starter is a deep-fried, curry-seasoned rice ball that’s broken apart, topped with herbs and veggies, and eaten with lettuce wraps.
In place of fish sauce, chef Renoo uses soy sauce and unorthodox salts, and the restaurant also features tempeh from Eugene’s Surata Soyfoods and locally made tofu. Kati Portland is now open Tuesday through Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Kati Portland [Official Facebook]