With its homey wooden table sets, hanging light bulbs and floor-to-ceiling windows, this may look like just another cute Japanese dessert cafe. But the reality is a bit more exciting. Kati is the first model restaurant from Thai Delicious, a government-supported project that has vowed to use specially-created tasting robots to banish the world of bad and inauthentic Thai food. Developed at a cost of B3 million, the so-called e-Delicious machine comprises nine sensors to measure the correct balance of six flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, savory and spicy. But the results here are no great leap forward.
While we’re pleased at the project’s pledge to use only high-quality and organic ingredients with strictly no MSG, we’re not convinced Kati is a great representative of real Thai food. The problem is the overwhelming sweetness of most dishes. To be fair, sometimes it works; but other times it’s an outright disaster, starting with the complimentary steamed egg, which comes piled with unnecessarily sugary crispy garlic. The yam woon sen (vermicelli salad with seafood, B280), too, is like eating a bowl of sweet noodles.
The nam prik kapi (shrimp paste with vegetables and fried mackerel, B260) is an improvement, thanks to the aromatic shrimp paste, but it’s a shame that any hint of saltiness is all but extinguished. In the reincarnated street food staple krapao nua toon (stir-fried braised beef with hot basil, B260), we enjoy the tenderness of the beef, but it’s let down by what tastes like a pre-cooked sauce. On the other hand, the sour-yet-saccharine tom yam goong (spicy tiger prawn soup, B320) is saved by the addition of shrimp-head paste for a richer texture.
The best dishes are indeed the ones that are meant to be sweet, as in the moist gai gorlae (barbecue chicken, B180) with satay-style sauce, or the addictive gaeng massamun gai (chicken coconut curry with tomato, B280) with its creamy and well-rounded curry. It’s unsurprising, then, that their desserts are killer, whether it’s the well-crafted mango ice cream with sticky rice (B120) or the aromatic coconut granita with kluay chuem (syrupy banana, B80).
While presentation is nice and the flavors here may appeal to Bangkokians’ notorious sweet tooth, we’re not entirely sold. In attempting to standardize Thai flavors, Kati doesn’t quite get the balance right. Corkage B300
This review took place in November 2015 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.