Atmosphere: 4.5 out of 5 bites (colorful lights illuminate exposed brick)
Price: 4 out of 5 bites
Quality/Taste: 4.5 out of 5 bites
Service: 4.5 out of 5 bites (Scored one of the last tables @ 6 PM, Thursday night)
Wow Factor: 4.5 out of 5 bites (seasonal menu)
Located on Michigan Ave in Detroit’s historic Corktown, Katoi opened its doors in March 2016 and has been the hottest new spot ever since. Currently it is being considered as Best New Restaurant for 2017 James Beard Awards and I am convinced when the winners are announced in March, Katoi will be awarded the honors. Diners expect an “out of this world” experience. The flavors are on a whole other planet and this is what the restaurant is centered around. The mother ship has landed and it brings bold and intense tastes!
Shared plates, so order a lot and be prepared to chow as each plate is delivered
Thrice Cooked Sweet Potatoes: Palm sugar, sherry, cilantro, topped with crispy shallots and served on a bed of avocado cream sauce. Insane! The outside of the potato was crispy, yet the inside was tender and creamy. The potatoes weren’t super sweet, but the sugar caramelized the outer edges of the potatoes. The avocado cream sauce added a creamy freshness that offset the richness.
Chickpea Tofu: Served with herb salad topped with crispy shallots and a sweet chili garlic dipping sauce. The tofu was soft and tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. I didn’t think I would like this as much as I did, but it was delicious! It was like a soft, fluffy, chickpea pillow. The crispy fried shallots added a subtle onion flavor and texture. The sweet chili garlic sauce was the right amount of sweet and heat to spice up the chickpea tofu.
Drunken Pastrami: Stir-fried rice noodles with thai bail, tomatoes, chilies, black soy sauce, and gai lan (Chinese broccoli). This was my first choice, but it ended up being super spicy! The pastrami was tender and delicious, but the chilies really took over this dish. I really liked the rice noodles and gai lan. Pair with sticky rice to tone down the heat.
Phat Mama: Stir-fried ramen, sea urchin, cherry tomatoes, chilies, thai basil, steelhead roe, and galangal (root spice similar to ginger). One of my favorites! I was very intimidated by the sea urchin, but it melted into the dish acting like a creamy sauce. The ramen was perfectly tender and delicious. The chilies added a slight kick and Watch out! I wasn’t looking and accidently swallowed one and it lit my tongue on fire.
Panaeng Curry: Kabocha squash, tofu, lime leaf, peanuts, roti (Indian flatbread). My favorite dish! Most curry’s are too sweet for my liking, but this was the perfect trio of sweet, spicy, and curry. The curry wasn’t overpowering and the sauce was the perfect velvety consistency. The tofu was slightly crispy and absorbed the delicious sauce like a sponge. The squash was creamy and perfectly cooked. The peanuts added texture and the toasted roti was the ideal tool to scoop up the sauce.
Scallop Sour Curry: Jasmine rice cake, napa cabbage, long beans, thai basil, cured egg yolk. The rice cake was crispy and paired well with the rich broth sauce. The scallops were tender, light, and perfect with the sour curry. I like that this dish was served with long beans, they added a nice brightness.
Tom Yum Hotpot: Hot & sour soup, pork & shrimp dumplings, lemongrass, lime leaf, lime, cilantro. This was unlike any hot & sour soup I have tasted before. The broth had a good flavor, but the hot/sour element was subtle. The pork & shrimp dumplings were slightly sweet and tender.
Flank Steak & Mushrooms: Wild hedgehog mushrooms, king trumpet mushrooms (high quality longer mushrooms), puya (botanical plant), lemongrass, lime, herbs. I loved the meaty, earthy array of mushrooms. The steak wasn’t as tender as I’d like, but it was sliced thin, cooked medium, and delicious.
Superman Ice Cream: House made blue moon with almond crumb. The best way to end an amazing meal! You could really taste the homemade quality. Creamy, sweet, with that blue moon fruity flavor that I love. The almond crumb was subtle, but added a sweet, nutty crunch.
Service was great from the moment we walked in and our server did an excellent job of explaining the menu and suggesting different dishes. Each bite was packed with a punch of flavor yet perfectly balanced. I have never tasted such a wide variety of different spices in one sitting before and it was incredibly pleasing.
It pains me to report that early Friday morning, February 17, 2017, Katoi was victim to a devastating arson fire. This breaks my heart as I was just there the night before and so excited to return. Please support the owners and staff of Katoi and help out in any way that is needed. I am confident that when the mothership lands again, it will come back bigger and better than ever!