Pok Pok – Portland
Chef Andy Rickard traveled throughout Thailand to bring Americans the flavors of Thai cuisine by opening up Pok Pok in Portland. My hubby and I came to dine at the acclaimed restaurant in high hopes to trying their famous chicken wings! Part of the Pok Pok reviews also included crazy wait times (one of my friends waited over 3 hours for a seat at the restaurant), packed restaurant crowds, and delicious unique dishes. We arrived at the restaurant around 5:45pm on a Thursday evening, luckily being able to be seated right away with a table for 2 in the back of the restaurant! No wait, no crazy crowds – we were in luck! Note: your whole party must arrive together to be seated, otherwise they wait until everyone is present before seating. There are also no reservations. If there’s a wait, you can enjoy a drink across the street at their other location across the street, Whiskey Soda Lounge, since they will text/call you when your table is ready.
First off, Pok Pok offers a large menu of specialty drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic. As I’m not a huge fan of Thai iced tea, instead I ordered Naam Manao, a fresh squeezed limeade – Thai Style, which is fizzy, sour and sweet! I really enjoyed the balance of the fizz with the sweet & sour. They also offer a variety of alcoholic c0cktails, teas and coffees that have the Asian-fusion component to them.
Pok Pok’s menu provides a long list of dishes that are to be shared, similar to tapas style, however they also offer one-plate meals for those who want to order their own portions. I love the layout of the menu, especially the their specialty dishes are highlighted right at the top. Their famous Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings was a must-try item I kept reading about and hearing about. When we asked our server what other dish that was quite popular he recommended the Papaya Pok Pok (a house special spicy green papaya salad). However, after some debate, my hubby really wanted to try the Hoi Thawt (Thai crepe), which the server also said was quite delicious and an authentic Thai night market snack.
Our dishes came after about 15-20 minutes. It was a busy evening and we were one of the last tables in our section to order. Once our food came, both dishes came at once. We started with Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. Very flavorful with the fish sauce but since we didn’t order them spicy, it felt like it was missing some flavor. Next time I think I’ll order it spicy. However the flavors and the moistness of the wings made me understand why it’s such a popular dish. However, I found this dish a tad overly salty – which can be explained by the need to order more drinks to go with it. My Naam Manao limeade went well with the wings! I also liked how it came with the standard Vietnamese sides of cucumber slices and pickled carrots and daikon.
The Hoi Thawt was next. We both thoroughly enjoyed this dish and glad we had ordered it! A crispy crepe that consisted of egg, fresh mussels, bean sprouts, garlic and chives served with a sriracha dipping sauce – this crepe provided a lot of flavors in my mouth. The sriracha sauce is quite spicy so I didn’t have to dip a lot of my pieces of the crepe into it. It’s not what you think in terms of crepe as it’s not one piece. Think of it more like a hash or deconstructed crepe. I would come back and order this again!
Since we were in a rush to a show after dinner, we didn’t end up ordering any other dishes. We will definitely be coming back on our next visit to Portland to try some other dishes including the Papaya Pok Pok. On another note for those who enjoy Pok Pok’s dishes, Andy Rickard has released recipes in his book, Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand. This can be purchased on Amazon. I’m looking forward to getting a hold of my own copy to try to recreate some of his Thai dishes. Let us know if you have had experience with this cookbook.