Dinner at Pok Pok, Brooklyn, NY
This past Sunday, I finally went to Pok Pok NY with an exhausted but ravenous friend who has a predilection for Thai food. We trekked out from Manhattan and like everyone has tweeted and written, we did wait on line (my Instagram photo) but thankfully it’s just the 10 minute wait and we’re the last two-top to be admitted into the restaurant. (I won’t pass judgement as to is the wait on line worth it or the trek from Manhattan or elsewhere but it’s a very solid Thai restaurant for the neighborhood.)
Pok Pok NY, if you’ve haven’t heard yet, is owned by Chef Andy Ricker. The acclaimed Pok Pok enterprise started originally in Portland, Oregon in 2007. Eventually, Ricker opened Pok Pok Phat Thai in the Lower East Side and as of last night, his newest expansion Whiskey Soda Lounge, which we did pass by on our way to Pok Pok NY.
The original premise of Pok Pok was to be selling a few Northern Thai street food-inspired dishes. The menu is tightly edited compared to a few very respectable NYC based Thai restaurants like Sriraphai and Zaab Elee whose menus does go on for pages.
We started with drinking vinegars ($5 each), my friend had the seasonal rhubarb syrup, while I had the pomegranate. Pleasant, refreshing, and not too tart or sweet non-alcoholic beverage.
The papaya pok pok salad with salted black crab ($10 + $3 supplement for the black crab) was a assertively delicious salad of spicy, sour and salty shredded green papaya mashed with fresh lime wedges, tomato and salted black crab. Just be aware that the shell of the black crab will be pulverized into your salad. We had the unpalatable experience of having bits of crab shell while biting into the papaya strands. Our side of sticky rice ($3) was unfortunately dry that it lacked the sticky texture that would make it sublime to eat.
Spicy Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings ($15) were phenomenal – spicy, sweet garlicy, finger-licking at every bite. It was one of our favorite dishes and it makes sense why the restaurant mentioned this as one of their few house specials.
The Yam Makheua Tao ($15) is composed of smoky grilled long eggplant salad with spicy dressing of Thai chilies, lime, fish sauce and a mild tinge of sweetness from the palm sugar, topped with shredded boiled egg, dry shrimp, pork, prawns, shallots and crispy garlic. It looks and reads complex (it is) but the flavors a lot more muted than the bold, brash flavors of the other dishes we had – and we loved its subtle complexity and it was our other favorite dish.
The chicken Khao Soi ($16) is a dish that my friend always order at any Thai restaurant. This khao soi was much milder, sweeter and the coconut milk flavor is a lot more pronounced. The chicken was perfectly moist and cooked to the point where you could pry the meat off its bone using the soup spoon. The thin egg noodles were slurpable and the crown of fried noodles were delicious mixed with the curry sauce.
Da Chom’s Laap Meuang, a spicy, herbaceous minced pork “salad” with cracklings, crispy fried shallots, and garlic was delectable. The phak sot was served on the side, containing raw Thai vegetables and herbs like the crunchy, light green Thai apple eggplant (known as makua), Thai basil, Vietnamese basil, and Napa cabbage that works with the laap meunang but also changing the flavor profile by adding these fresh vegetation.
The Kaeng Hung Leh ($16) is a sweet, pork belly and pork shoulder curry with ginger, palm sauce, turmeric, tamarind, Burmese curry powder and pickled garlic and crispy fried shallots. While this was a very tasty stew where the pork was cooked until it’s wonderfully tender that it’s almost effortless to cut with a fork, we’re thrown off by how sweet it is compared to the other dishes. Not a bad thing but it felt like it came out of left field.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):
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