Ok, I know, I tricked you. There are so few (if any?) truly authentic Thai options in Bham that when you saw a place you didn’t recognize, your heart skipped a beat. You felt butterflies in your stomach. Well – made you look. This place is actually in Gadsden. So sue me. I would drive an hour for amazing authentic Thai food any day.

A few weeks ago, Mr Foodie and I took a road trip north of the Mason-Dixon Line to attend a family reunion in Pennsylvania. We left Birmingham just before 5pm, so predictably, we began to feel hunger pangs while approaching Gadsden. Knowing that Gadsden has an NPR station, I went out on a limb and made an assumption that we could find some good food in town. And sure nuff, their #1 rated restaurant on TripAdvisor was Kati Thai. Since Thai food is Mr Foodie’s number one favorite kind of food, hands down, and we always love trying places that seem unexpected (read: Thai food in small town Alabama), we pointed the GPS to Kati.

We almost didn’t find the place-Mr Foodie was convinced that it must have closed after we passed it twice. But luckily, nestled in the back of a tiny strip mall, we spotted this sign:

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This place is adorable on the outside, and just as welcoming and homey on the inside. The menu is fairly focused, which I like-to me that’s a signal that they like to focus on doing a limited number of things well. And they have all the classics you’d expect.

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When we were there, the dinner rush was in full force. A very friendly server greeted and sat us, while simultaneously answering the phones and then seating and serving us and others. She never missed a beat and took the time to make a few menu recommendations.

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog you know that although we aren’t from ’round here we have adopted the eating habits of a native Alabamian (at least for the purposes of this blog… and not that there’s anything wrong with that). So, we wanted to eat at least a little lighter. Our waitress suggested the larb, a mince meat salad that is one of my favorite Thai/Laotian dishes. And Mr Foodie always needs to have chicken curry, so he ordered the Penang curry, which is healthy if you compare it to turkey necks or rib tips….

First, the larb. Tell me this isn’t gorgeous. The presentation was amazing with the little fan of crisp cabbage in the back. This is the best larb I’ve ever tasted-bright, citrus-y flavors (lime?) mingle with basil, red onion, and perfectly cooked chicken. Foodie heaven.

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Now let’s take a close-up-you can almost see the flavors mingling:

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We always order basil rolls – a pretty good indication of a place. These were just right-perfectly cooked chicken, fresh veggies and basil:

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Then the Penang curry. Mild and very flavorful with lots of bell peppers – fresh, light, and absolutely delicious. We ordered it with delicious multigrain brown rice to feel a little healthier, and because we love brown rice and so rarely see it on menus in Birmingham:

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We’ve eaten at some great Thai restaurants in Philadelphia and Manhattan while living up there, and always eat Thai when we travel. This place really holds up against those standards. What’s an authentic Thai place doing in Gadsden? I’m really not sure. We started telling the waitress how excited we were to have found the place and telling her how much we wished they were in Birmingham, and ask about the restaurant’s history, but the place was too busy for us to keep her away from other customers for long. We’ll just have to go back to try more food and learn more…

Kati Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon