As soon as I spied Fat Cat restaurant on the side of Rural Road Mae Hong Son, I knew I had to stop there for a meal. I adore outdoor eating in traditional huts and enjoy it even more if those huts are set amidst a wild and thriving garden of greenery.
Pai is already the perfect location to find just this sort of setting with its hippie culture pervading every aspect of this northern Thai town - including the cuisine. But Fat Cat Restaurant tends to embody this feel to an even greater degree.
When you arrive you cross from the road straight into a little grove with the front counter straight in front of you. You can sit right here, but you will notice a little path to your left inviting you to explore further.
A great way to start your visit is to order one of their iced teas. For me this was a real highlight as they were made from the real deal. My pandanus iced tea was an actual pandanus leaf infused in the water, giving it the subtlest of flavours. In addition they provided sweet syrup on the side, rather than pre-mixed, meaning you can leave it off or add it to your liking.
Their on-site garden clearly contributes to the freshness and the quantity of organic produce included in the dishes and much of the salad ingredients you will enjoy have been taken direct from here. You don't get fresher than that.
They also have a shop with a few good items and are well known for the baked goods they prepare in their home-made mud oven. They have well praised home-made yoghurts, and kombucha and a lot of the dressings and condiments you will be served are also made from scratch.
I won't tell you that the food at Fat Cat is the best to be found in pai, but it is still a very good dining experience, and the whole setting along with the food works together to make it a not-to-be-missed experience when visiting the area.