I’m going to say it very bluntly. Pok Pok is the best restaurant food in the country. Cuisine is like language and in each countries cuisine there are different dialects. The type of Thai cuisine dialect Pok Pok speaks may be one none too unfamiliar in Thailand. But in America, I haven’t seen a place that serves Thai quite like this. Street style drinking food. [ I know what you’re thinking: every time I post, I say something is the best.] Pok Pok is my favorite culinary excursion because it takes you somewhere far off. I feel like I should be bringing my passport to the damn place! Just click on this menu above. If you’re not Thai, I’m willing to wager you’ve never seen or heard of a single item listed, like Muu Paa Kham Waan (pictured above): boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper glazed with soy and sugar, grilled over charcoal, served with chilled mustard greens and a spicy chili/lime/garlic sauce!
I’m not going to sit here and review how the pad thai stacks up, because they don’t serve it! Pok Pok’s signature noodle dish instead is Khao Soi: Northern Thai mild curry noodle soup made with secret curry paste recipe, natural chicken on the bone and house-pressed fresh coconut milk. Served with pickled mustard greens, shallots, cilantro, crispy yellow noodles and roasted chili paste.
Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings: fresh natural chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoo fish sauce and garlic, served with Vietnamese table salad. If you’re more than three to a party, get two orders. They flew so fast off the table I couldn’t take a good picture. The mixture of flavors and textures encrusted on the wing are numerous. The meat within is still juicy making the seemingly coarse outter crust fall off the bone. [ Cue salivation! ]
If you don’t live in Portland, I’d suggest taking a trip out to visit. PDX has an incredible culinary scene with tons of local restaurants in all four quadrants of the city. Pok Pok has two locations, one on the southeast end and the newest location, Pok Pok Noi, with a smaller (but still incredible) menu and more of a bar type scene in the northeast (there are also two locations in NYC…menu differs slightly at each location.) If you can’t afford a trip to Thailand, I’d highly consider saving big and flying to Portland to get your culinary passport stamped at Pok Pok!