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Inside husband-and-wife George Kaiho and Yuyee Sakpanichkul’s casual Thai counter-order spot in the Farmers Market, a chalk drawing depicts an alley of food stands in Bangkok. Recipes were honed over months at farmers markets and pop-ups at breweries (the kaleidoscopic flavors, a world of tang, funk, and sweet and salty heat, go well with beer).
Kaiho, who is also the talented bar manager at Jettison, is from Japan; Sakpanichkul is from Bangkok. Ka-Tip is a blend of their sensibilities, serving iconic street food that captures the heart. A daytime mellowness pervades in natural materials and minimalism. Not the colorful overwhelm of Bangkok. Only pillows on a long wooden bench splash vibrant color. But the food has serious pedigree and is everything you crave.
And so now we have pad Thai that has great chew, with sautéed tofu, shrimp, bean sprouts, ground peanuts to shower on top, and lime, which you happily wash down with robust, chicory-laced coffee or limeade stained blue from butterfly pea flowers.
Chicken over rice with bold, garlicky flavor has an egg on top that you cut into, one of the oozing pleasures, like the best brunch dish ever. Some things are superb and quiet, not cymbal crashes. Like the yum woon sen, all lime tang, wood ear mushrooms, shrimp that hover just shy of translucent, and ground chicken that looks like feta in the tangle of clear noodles.
Then there was the night when, sitting alone, I found I couldn’t stop eating the grilled pork salad with toasted rice powder, though my lips were burning, chastened (yet utterly seduced) by the conflation of fiery lash, funk, and charred meatiness I soothed with Thai tea, thick with evaporated and condensed milk.
In that moment, I fervently wished it were Sunday, so I could have the coconut-milk-and-rice-flour pancakes Kaiho makes with custardy centers and crisp edges.