Taste of Thailand: New Restaurant Gati Replaces One Thong Chai

Tucked away on a side street in downtown Andover, Gati Thai Bistro lies where former restaurant One Thong Chai used to stand. The new restaurant, which is co-owned by Supimol Sririsaksaphaporn, aims to serve authentic Thai cuisine with an emphasis on using locally-produced ingredients from nearby farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and farms, according to the co-owners of Gati. As their website reads, “Locally grown produce is our first choice.”

“I think the most important part of the food is the fresh ingredients. It doesn’t matter who your chef is; it doesn’t matter how good you can cook. I believe that when we have fresh ingredients, combined with the good chef, the result is better. But let’s say if you have the mediocre ingredients, then you have to do a lot in order to compensate the taste of the food,” said Sririsaksaphaporn’s co-owner, who wished to remain anonymous.

The restaurant announced its “soft opening” on August 29 as it transitions from its developing stages towards an anticipated grand opening day. The owners are using this period to test out their business and to adjust their menu and overall set up to customers’ tastes.

“We are still basically trying to figure out the configuration of the kitchen [and] more so a little bit of trying to make sure that we all can work together, so that we can do a grand opening… [Before that,] we are probably going to invest more into the social media and advertisements. As of right now… we’re just trying to do data testing and then see if our customers like our food, and if the customers don’t like our food, then we can adjust the menu a little bit,” said the co-owner.

The name of the restaurant, Gati, means “coconut milk” in Thai. This ingredient, which is a staple in Thai cuisine, appears in many dishes on the restaurant’s menu, such as the khao soi chicken, which consists of a braised chicken submerged in a yellow, coconut curry, topped off with fried egg noodles and fresh cilantro.

“[Khao soi chicken] is a dish that came from the northern part of Thailand, and, because the northern part of Thailand is connected to different countries like China and other neighboring countries, this dish is basically the combination of all these different countries into one: egg noodles, [which] you can see in a lot of Chinese cuisine, and curry, [which] is basically the mix between Indian and Thai [cuisine]. Most importantly, we are using coconut curry,” said the co-owner.

As they transition from One Thong Chai’s previous set up, one of the major changes that the owners of Gati are focusing on is reducing the size of their menu. By offering fewer items, the owners hope to be able to place more focus on the quality of their food over the quantity of the options.

“We think that One Thong Chai has a really good, wonderful business, [but] one of the problems we can see is, because the [number of] menu items that they have [are] too big for the size of the kitchen… When they have too many menu items, sometimes it’s really hard to manage the ingredients and the food, and sometimes let’s say if you order something that is not too popular, maybe that food might not be fresh or it might not taste that great,” said the co-owner.

In addition to reducing the size of the menu, the owners of Gati also made multiple renovations to the dining area. Most notably, they replaced the previously orange walls with white, shiplap plywood, which is often used in old farmhouses.

“We just wanted people to look inside and feel like they are in a vintage farmhouse kitchen, and it’s going to feel more like home to most of the people,” said the co-owner.

Surrounded by various Western-style restaurants, Gati brings a touch of Asian cuisine to downtown Andover, bringing a sense of diversity to the area.

Carley Kukk ’19 said, “I think that, at least my parents, they would always use Thai food as a staple in their college diets. I think that it’s nice to have another Thai restaurant… because One Thong Chai was really popular here, and I think it’s good to have different types of food, not always American food too, because you have Casa Blanca right around the corner for Mexican food, and Mootone for sushi. Plus it’s also like Asian comfort food.”

One of the most unique aspects about the food served at Gati is the abundant and strong flavors in each dish, as noted by Pitchaya Chantanapongvanij ’19 who ordered the basil fried rice.

“I liked [the fried rice] a lot actually. I liked how it was actually spicy in comparison to other Thai restaurants in this area, which made it more authentic. It was very flavorful [and] very rich. It’s nice to eat something hot once in awhile when you’re in the U.S.,” said Chantanapongvanij.

Gati Thai Bistro, which is located at 12 Post Office Ave, Andover, Mass., will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.