2932 SE Division St.

Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11:30 am to 10 pm

503.477.6059

@katiportland

The upshot of two good friends with a passion for food is the vegetarian KaTi Rustic Thai Restaurant now open at 2932 SE Division, (formerly Clay’s Barbecue).

Ketsuda (Nan) Chaison came from Thailand to Tennessee in 2008 to attend college and it was there she made the acquaintance of Sarah Jansala who also chose to attend school here to be with family and friends already living in the US.

After graduating college with a Masters in Education, Nan continued to work in the restaurant business where she began to own more aspects of this business. Sarah continued with her education, receiving a degree as a pharmacist three years ago. During the intervening time, Nan moved to Seattle, started a family and worked as a manager at Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen. About a year ago, the friends decided to go ahead with their desire to open their own restaurant.

Sarah’s mother, Renoo Jansala was living in Portland at the time so the two decided this is where they would locate the restaurant.  Both are stunned and delighted by what a beautiful city this is, how great the people are and how good the weather is.

They did a complete makeover of the interior of the place. Sarah has a flair with interior design and signage so the look is contemporary and fun. They did most of the work themselves with Nan’s little daughter helping them as they painted and put together tables and built a bar. They completed the work in six months and now KaTi is open and ready to serve.

What makes KaTi different is the fact that this restaurant is completely vegetarian and leaning towards veganism. This means no oyster sauce or fish sauce so common in Thai food recipes.

They blend all their own herbs, combining them with vegetables to make the different traditional Thai food accessible to this group of foodies. Sarah’s dad, Sukit, is a thirty-year vegan and one of his lifelong dreams was to open a vegan restaurant. Now he is living vicariously through his daughter’s business and helping in their restaurant.

Renoo had a restaurant in Thailand for thirty years and knows her way around the kitchen. She is an experienced cook who found a way to make the curry pastes and sauces tasty without using animal products.

Nan expanded her repertoire while working at Isarn and between the three of them, bring passion and knowledge to the food they serve.  One flavor both women savored in their recipes is coconut milk, so it is in honor of this flavor they’ve named their restaurant KaTi the Thai word for coconut milk.

Since Portland is renowned for their restaurants, the mantra fresh and local is a natural consideration for a chef’s menu plan and Sarah and Nan are happy to comply. All the sauces are prepared with fresh ingredients daily, the rice noodles are purchased daily from a place on Foster Rd. KaTi uses Surata tempeh and tofu – both locally-sourced. The abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables here in the northwest makes these easy to obtain too.

KaTi has a full bar with specialty craft cocktails using fresh squeezed juice, infusions of hibiscus, lychee, coconut and Pandan leaf–the Thai version of vanilla. Pandan leaf gives the distinctive flavoring to Tom Yum soup. The Spicy Tipsy drink was inspired by this famous soup, it includes coconut vodka, Tom Yum infused vodka, lime and simple syrup. Or there’s the Bangkok Martini – vodka, lychee syrup, and pineapple juice, shaken and served up. Something new to explore.

Nan Chaison and Sarah Jansala

The menu is clearly marked about what is and isn’t vegan and what can be made vegan upon request. One popular dish called Pad See Ew, stir fried rice noodles, tofu, EGG, carrot and Chinese broccoli in a sweet soy sauce– is a vegan option, just ask for no egg.

Other specialities are the Nam Kao Tod their signature appetizer, crispy rice with fresh herbs, green onion, red onions, cilantro, carrot and mint, glass noodles served with peanut sauce and wrapped in lettuce.

Try the Som Tom, a tasty shredded green papaya salad. and for dessert, the traditional sticky rice and fruits with dipping sauce – a Thai favorite.