Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Dining Out: Pok Pok, Portland OR
I live in the Seattle area and one of my members recommended (thank you, Mark L) Pok Pok in Portland Oregon. That's right, a three hour drive just for a meal? ABSOLUTELY!
Pok Pok has also been featured on several TV food shows and in the press. Rightfully so as owner/chef Andy Ricker was the 2011 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef, Northwest.
When I arrived at Pok Pok I almost felt like to I was on a pacific island. This Thai restaurant is a shack and on this sunny Sunday afternoon it was PERFECT for dining out on their patio. No worries, there is also indoor seating as well.
Prior to ordering, we were given several napkins and wet naps. At this joint, eating with your hands is a must. Wash up, roll up your sleeves, dig in, and be prepared to enjoy!
We sat on picnic tables and examined the menu a bit. What we ate:
Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings - one of their specialty dishes and probably their claim to fame. Excellent flavors that give "wings" a whole new meaning. Sweet, spicy, salty, garlicky - all in a single bite. The sauce is so good, it's finger licking good.
Neua Naam Tok - a delicious flank steak salad. Very good with the salty from the fish sauce, the tart from lime, and heat from the chili powder. Round off with flavors of cilantro and lemon grass and texture from the rice powder this was a pleasantly unique salad.
Kai Krapao Khai Dao - a ground chicken stir fry with small pieces of green beans and basil topped with a fried egg. There was a bitterness to it, probably from the basil. A dry dish and probably my least favorite of the meal.
Kuaytiaw Reua "Boat Noodles" - a large bowl of soup. Very hearty and probably a meal in itself. This soup has delicious flavors and finishes with a little sweetness. This was really filling, especially with the chunks of beef and meatballs.
Naam Manao - Thai inspired limeade which included salt. I liked it, but didn't love it. The salt threw me off.
Cucumber Relish - I ordered for the acidity to compliment the rest of the meal, but it came with a lot of heat. It was really spicy.
There is a separate lunch and dinner menu. If you're thirsty there is an extensive drink menu. Despite have a sweet tooth, I didn't have room for dessert.
What a wonderful meal. Yes, worth the drive. Pok Pok lives up to the hype - but would you expect anything less from a James Beard winner? Andy Ricker knows his way around a kitchen.
We arrived shortly after opening and by the time we were finished the place was packed. A testament of how popular and how delicious the food is at Pok Pok.