Other dishes in Takoi’s menu include a savory smoked beet salad, which is a bit wilted but moist and uniquely spicy served with a rabbit larp. Meat and salad dishes are some of the signatures of Thai cooking. Pork is usually grounded, cooked, and served with green onion, cilantro, grounded dried chili pepper, springs of spearmint, lime, and sliced shallots. Takoi’s menu is seasonal, and the restaurant is usually a walk-in, but you can reserve a Blastoff feast with friends.
On the Friday morning of February 17, 2017, a fire broke out at Katoi restaurant. The fire heavily damaged the restaurant, but no injuries were reported. Investigators believed that the fire wasn’t an accident, and was a plot to cover-up a break-in. By the time the firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire had already spread to the dining area. The Detroit fire department had sent two ladder trucks, four fire engines, three chief cars, and two squads, and they managed to contain the fire and clear the scene within one and a half hours. According to investigators, the fire started in the bay area. The backdoor appeared to be forced, implying that there was a break-in. The abandoned tote bag full of alcohol at the back door further supported this suspicion. They suspected that someone broke in to steal some liquor and started the fire to cover up the crime. There was extensive fire damage to the bar and dining area, as well as smoke damage to the bathrooms and kitchen, but the walls and the roof were still intact. About a mile away, another bar – Nemo’s Bar and Grill – was broken into, and some liquor was stolen. However, investigators did not find any evidence connecting the two events. According to police, the front window at Nemo’s bar was knocked out, and several bottles and the cash register drawer were stolen. The suspect in Nemo’s case was a white male between twenty-five and thirty years old. Immediately after the arson, the Detroit community established fundraisers at local bars and hotels to raise money to rehabilitate Katoi. Within a week, they had managed to raise $20,000, and the restaurant owners were eager to restore Katoi. They renovated the restaurant and reopened in August 2017, exactly six months after the fire.
On August 21, 2017, Detroit Metro Times published an article stating that Katoi was an offensive restaurant name and that the name should be changed. Katoi is derived from the Thai word Kathoey which means ladyboy. In Thailand, Kathoey is used to refer to an effeminate male or transgender woman. The owners of the restaurant were aware of the meaning of Katoi when they started the restaurant in 2016, and the name fit their brand at the time. They had set up a unisex bathroom in the restaurant with a stamp “LADY/BOY”. The restaurant owners believed that the word Katoi embodied going beyond and against normative culture. There was a consensus among Thailand trans rights activists, Thai-Americans, Transgender people, and the LGBTQ community that the term Katoi should not be used in the context that the restaurant’s owners were using it and the called on the owners to change the restaurant’s name. This was not the first time that Katoi had received such criticism. For a long time, there was a controversy surrounding the use of Katoi as a restaurant name, but the owners repeatedly refused to change the name of the restaurant. One of the analogies used to describe the offensiveness of using the term was that it was similar to someone from Thai starting a gastropub in Bangkok and using a homophobic slur to name it. Other people claimed that the owners used the word Katoi because its meaning is obscure in the US and questioned why they didn’t call it “Transgender Burger” instead