Pok Pok, Portland

I did laugh out loud and possibly may have even done a chicken walk to the sound of Portland’s hottest restaurant, Pok Pok. Having discovered a very decisive and accurate listing of some of America’s best restaurants, Pok Pok had been on my radar and as it so happened that I had a friend who I was visiting in Portland, the opportunity was there for the taking. To bolster this decision, a couple of friendly diners with whom I struck up a foodie rapport at Red Farm in New York further mentioned Pok Pok’s claim to culinary fame as one of America’s finest Asian restaurants. Having won the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef, Northwest 2011, Andy Ricker’s brand of Northern Thai cuisine has no problems filling the rafters, with people constantly queueing to sample the fare. Luckily, being a table of two not opposed to sitting at the bar, we were let in almost immediately to start our feasting….

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Aubergines
Catfish
Chicken Wings
Pork Belly

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Yam Makheua Yao: Aubergines with chilli, lime, fish sauce, palm sugar, boiled egg, shallots and crispy garlic. Now what could I possibly say that would make this dish sound any more appetising? Nothing! My only gripe was that I had to share.

Cha Cha La Vong: Catfish marinated in turmeric and sour sticky rice, rice vermicilli, scallions, peanuts, mint, coriander. Pok Pok’s version of a Vietnamese dish made famous by La Vong restaurant in Hanoi was an explosion of delicate flavours all tingling away!

Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings: a recipe from the home of Ike, one of the chefs at Pok Pok. The diners next to us recommended this to us and no sooner had we put sampled a mouthful, did this dish rapidly disappear off the plate – I dare say they were the finest chicken wings to have graced my palate.

Kaeng Hung Leh: Northern Thai pork belly and shoulder curry with Burmese curry powder. A fine blend of Thai and Burmese (Myanmari) cuisines, this rich, unctuous, melting pot of porcine sinfulness could not have been a better match for the sticky rice that came with it. The pork belly was quite fatty, and not something I’m quite fond of, but I do know a few people who would die for this.

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Mango and Durian
Ice cream and doughnut

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.Sankhya Durian (right): Sticky rice with durian scented coconut custard. Beautiful chunk of custard – heavy on the durian, which I love, but the salted savoury coconut sauce was a new flavour sensation, which I did not quite appreciate on this occasion. I was told that there are constant debates on the saltiness of the coconut sauce with a fair few championing the need for an even saltier version!

Khao Niew Mamuang (left): Mango with salted coconut sauce, sticky rice: The same reaction applied to the mango version!

Pok Pok Affogato: Condensed milk ice cream, Vietnamese coffee, Chinese doughnut. A fantastic play on the coffee one find in South East Asia – a rich dense earthy brew with oodles of condensed milk to sweeten it up. Nothing better! Here the addition of a Chinese doughnut, akin to churros, made for happy dunkin’ and noisy slurpin’!

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Satiated to our eye balls, B & I stumbled out into the cool Portland evening feeling incredibly happy and definitively satiated. There’s no surprise to how this little gem of an eatery just keeps expanding – after all, the more people that pass through its doors, the better!

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Recommend you go: 9

Food: 9

Website
Pok Pok on Urbanspoon

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