Pok Pok Noi – Southeast Portland

ImageI’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.Image 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!

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I’m not going to sit here and review how the pad thai stacks up, because they don’t serve it!Image 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 marinatedImage 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. ImageThey 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! ]

Image 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.Image 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!

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Nong Lá – Little Osaka

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Lunchaimer’s,

My apologies for the recent lapse between posts. With all the calorie cramming over the last few months since my first lunch love letter on New Year’s Eve, a gastronomic break was necessary. And as one door closes, another opens when I tried to take it easy during my lunch breaks and found Nong Lá’s Banh Mi Chay: Carrots, daikon, cilantro, house mayo, tofu, marinated oyster mushrooms and choice of fried egg enveloped by one of the freshest toasted baguettes I have ever crunched into. I have a doctorate in banh mi appreciation and I consider Nong Lá’s addition of the fried egg to its Vietnamese submarine as a revolutionary accoutrement …(Some of you might be thinking listen to this fat ass…He thinks going on a diet is scarfing down fried egg sandwiches). And of course the classic grilled pork, lemon grass steak and lemongrass chicken banh mi are available as well

nonglaThe sandwich is at the top of my list and I go out of my way to snack on it. My addiction has gotten so bad that the staff have insisted I either order something new or stop coming for a while so I don’t burn out! People like to call me a gross creature of habit. I call it loyalty.   

                                                                                                                                               Nong Lá’s atmosphere is clean and slick. You can plainly see the kitchen staff in the back frantically whipping up all of their menu items by hand with fresh ingredients. Classics like Bun rice vermicelli bowls, Pho, bountiful rice plates (I promise I am ordering a rice plate next time) and a variety of egg rolls/apps. Its a great spot for lunch and by far the best banh mi you can find without driving 80 miles round trip to Westminster.

nongla-4Don’t leave without trying their Cafe Sua: a Viet-style spice roasted coffee bean slow dripped over condensed milk (hot or over ice). It is a delicious treat that I have yet to figure out how to sip slowly. Check, please!

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