Change of Name and The Twist of Fate

The owners responded by saying that although they knew the meaning of the term, they didn’t realize that it was offensive and operated from a literal translation of it, which meant third gender or third profile. They were unaware that it was a slur since the word was mostly used in the 1960s to identify and deviate from dominating social norms. According to the owners, Katoi represented the push and pull between female and male genders and the divergence from gender binaries in a society that is so male-gendered. The owners used the word because they did not buy into gender binary or historical gender roles in their business. Since the restaurant opened, the owners had always adopted a gender-neutral approach towards their staff and had even hired people who identified as transgender. They finally decided to change the restaurant’s name to Takoi after it became clear that Katoi was an offensive slur. The owners released a statement stating that they would be dropping the name and apologizing to anyone they might have offended by using the name. Their statement further read that although they would be changing the name of the restaurant, the individuality, self-expression, and spirit it inspired will continue to live on.

Katoi restaurant has received various accolades since its launch. In 2016, the Thrillist included Katoi in its list of the 12 Best New Restaurants in America. The same year also saw the restaurant crowned the Restaurant of the Year by Eater Detroit, and Chef Brad Greenhill was named Rustbelt Rising Star Chef. In 2017 Katoi was named the Best New Restaurant in Detroit by the Detroit Free Press. They were also semifinalists in James Beard’s Best New Restaurant, and Greenhill was named as one of the 15 Chefs to Watch in 2017. In 2018 Katoi was named the Best Restaurant in Detroit by the Detroit Metro Times. Detroit Free Press again featured Katoi in 2019, but this time, it was as one of the 12 Restaurants That Defined The Decade.…

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The Fire and The Name Controversy

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

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From Katoi to Takoi – A Very Delightful Thai Cuisine Restaurant

Takoi, formerly known as Katoi, is a Thai restaurant located at 2520 Michigan Avenue, Detroit. Courtney Henriette and chef Brad Greenhill started the restaurant in 2014 as a food truck called Katoi. The restaurant rapidly developed into an Ann Arbor pop up and, in 2016, opened a proper physical location at 2520 Michigan Ave. Detroit. The 1900 square foot building formerly functioned as an auto garage. Since 2014 the restaurant has undergone many developments, including the change of venue and restaurant’s name and the arson of February 2017 that brought the business to a standstill for six months. The restaurant has been the recipient of several awards, and the owners credit teamwork as the reason for their enormous success.


The setup is gritty and urban. The restaurant features a 12 feet high cyclone fence surrounding the property. New York architect Ishtiaq Rafiuddin chose this design for a couple of reasons. First, transparency allowed people on the outside to see into the restaurant. There was also the idea of growing a large green wall up the fence. The restaurant’s interior features a maze of low banquette seats, soft purple lighting, a translucent blue-lit back bar with bottle shelves, and a high dark ceiling. The table setting is simple, although a little cramped. The staff are quite delightful and are happy to work at the restaurant. They are also quite helpful when explaining the dishes making the overall experience a memorable one.


As for the food, Takoi offers some of the best Thai meals you can find in Detroit. Their menu has an excellent distinction. It features a concentration, depth, and balance between coolness and heat, and the range of spices. The delight of moving from one bite to the next, and then onto a completely different world when another exquisite plate is brought to your table is nothing short of magnificent. To understand the restaurant’s achievement and those of Chef Brad Greenhill, you have to indulge in at least one dish. The pumpkin starter course is an excellent place to start. It is first roasted then cut and glazed with green curry paste. Being the cornerstone of Thai cuisine, chef Greenhill incorporates paste in virtually all meals he makes. The paste in the pumpkin dish has green Thai chili, coriander seed, garlic, shallot, and lemongrass. It is then fried with coconut milk with a small lime leaf in it. This may seem like a simple paste, but it is full of flavor. Next, the pumpkin pieces are fried with the coconut milk and paste, and some chrysanthemum is added for a celery flavor followed by Thai basil. The dish is then dressed using a bright vinaigrette with ginger, lime, dry chili, tamarind, and garnished using shallots and cashew nuts.


Another exciting dish is short ribs, which are cooked for about two days in a sous-vide system. Since there’s a lot of meat between the bones that can’t be used in the rib dish, egg roll scraps are used with cabbage, chili, Chinese celery, shiitakes, and Thai peppers. The Thai chili sauce infused with lemongrass and herbs adds a herbaceous flavor to it.…

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