Ice Cream from Thai Fresh Has Its Own Location at Gati in East Austin
“Happiness shouldn’t end just because you have a gluten or dairy allergy,” says vegan ice cream/coffee shop owner
By Vanessa Blankenship
Photographs by Holly Cowart
For Thai Fresh owner Jam Sanitchat, opening a storefront for dairy-free, vegan ice cream treats weren’t part of her original plan. But 10 years ago, the Thailand native wanted to add desserts to the menu at her locally-sourced Thai restaurant in Bouldin Creek, so she started making ice cream with leftover mangoes and a special ingredient: coconut milk.
The chef credits coconut milk, now the base for all of her ice cream flavors, as the source of its uniquely savory yet creamy consistency.
“I can execute a really creamy vegan ice cream,” Sanitchat says. “I owe it all to coconut milk because it’s the only product that I have tested that would be so creamy that sometimes I couldn’t even tell that it is made with coconut milk and not regular milk or cream.”
After two years of delays, Sanitchat finally opened a spinoff location dedicated solely to highlighting her vegan sweets. Gati (which means coconut milk in Thai) is located on Holly Street and currently features 40 rotating flavors. Most of the ice cream flavors are made with fewer than five ingredients and are all vegan and gluten-free.
From classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla to specialties like Japanese red bean and pandan leaf, dessert lovers can explore new and exciting creations. In addition to ice cream, the shop also features a gluten-free bakery and a full coffee bar.
“What makes Gati stand out against other vegan ice cream shops in town is that no one else is doing the flavors that she’s creating, not even nationally,” says Alex Reichek of Chekmark Eats. “I’m obsessed with ice cream, so I know every ice cream brand and you can’t get these flavors anywhere else.”
Whether you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, turning towards healthier diets, or trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, Sanitchat’s vegan ice cream is worth a try.
“The ice cream business is a very happy business. That’s why I love it,” Sanitchat says. “Happiness shouldn’t end just because you have a gluten or dairy allergy, so I just feel like I’m able to bring that experience back to all of my customers.”
Want to create Sanitchat’s famous vegan ice cream flavors at home? The chef recently released the Thai Fresh: The Cookbook with more than 75 recipes inspired by the chef’s childhood in Thailand and cooking lessons with her mom.