Normally, I know of a restaurant or I’m a fan of a restaurant and I hear that they’re coming out with a cookbook and I’m like, “Awesome! About time!” This time, it was the opposite. People were creating a lot of buzz about Pok Pok’s cookbook (and rightly so because it’s beautifully designed), and I thought to myself, “Wait…I don’t actually know what this Pok Pok thing is.”
After much Googling and Yelping, I found out that Pok Pok is this cool Thai restaurant that also has a location in Portland. The chef Andy Ricker, won “Best Chef Northwest” in 2011 and Pok Pok was actually even featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.” I wrangled up my fancy food friends (or that’s what I call the friends who I eat at places like Red Rooster and Skal with) and we made plans to go check it out.
Despite it being Sunday night, we still had a 1-2 hour wait. Craziness! Why does this keep happening to me that I think going to restaurant on a Sunday evening means getting seated in a breeze. Not so in New York City. Pok Pok has a place called Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street where you can wait to get called for your table and enjoy some small snacks and drinks in the meantime. And no, you don’t have to peek outside to try and hear if they’re shouting your name. They’ll notify their staff in the Lounge to send you over.
Most of the recipes on the menu are meant to be shared and since it had taken so long to get seated, we wanted to try as much as possible. To start, we ordered Ike’s Vietnames Fish Sauce Wings, which are wings marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in fish sauce and garlic, and served with a table salad. They’re also probably their most popular menu item. For our main dishes, we ordered Pet Pha Lo (Thai style stewed duck leg in 5 spice soy broth with pickled mustard greens, stewed boiled duck egg, and Chinese black mushrooms), Kaeng Hang Leh (sweet pork belly and pork shoulder curry with ginger, palm sugar, turmeric, tamarind, curry powder, and pickled garlic), Cha Ca “La Vong” (Vietnamese catfish marinated in turmeric and sour sticky rice, fried in turmeric oil with scallions and dill, served on rice vermicelli with peanuts, mint, and cilantro), and another dish with pork ribs and mustard greens, which I unfortunately cannot recall the name of. Sorry! Lastly, for dessert, we had the coconut jackfruit ice-cream sandwich.
So yeah, that sounds like a TON of food, but the portions were fairly small and at a table of four, we only ended up with a couple bites of each (which turned out to be okay since we ordered so much). I love how everything had multiple components and flavors that were unified into one dish. Out of all of them, the wings were my absolute favorite, with the duck leg and pork belly coming in second.
This is definitely one of those places where you have to go all out and try tons of things to make the most of your time there. It was also great to experience Thai flavors apart from the usual pad thai and pad see ew, or noodle dishes in general, which is how I normally end up eating Thai. Disregard the ice cream sandwich when reading my last comment, I’m not sure how authentically Thai that one is. 😉
Ike’s vietnamese fish sauce wings, pet pha lo, kaeng hang leh, cha ca “la vong”, coconut jackfruit ice-cream sandwich
117 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231