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Pok Pok
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27 March 2008 — Pok Pok

On Presidents Day, Kris and I met Lisa and Craig at Pok Pok, a popular Asian restaurant here in Portland. We showed up at 8pm, thinking it would be easy to get a table on a Monday night. We were wrong. The wait was 90 minutes. Disappointed, we dined at Nostrana instead.

But I couldn’t shake the idea of Pok Pok. I love Thai and Vietnamese food. Kris doesn’t care for Asian food, so I’m always happy when she’ll let me choose it for our dinners out. When Tiffany offered to take me out to dinner for my birthday, I chose Pok Pok.

This time we showed up at 5:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. There was still a 20-minute wait (Pok Pok doesn’t take reservations except for parties of five or more), but that was reasonable. We sat outside in a covered waiting area. Once we entered the restaurant, we understood why the wait was so long: the place is tiny, seating maybe 30 people (with a few more spots at the bar).

Right away, I knew I was going to love the place. The smells were amazing. I loved the cramped space and the low ceiling. It didn’t feel like any other restaurant in Portland.

The dinner menu is filled with J.D.-friendly foods: lots of meat and sauces and rice, and only a few vegetables. Because servings are relatively small, family-style dining is encouraged. We ordered:

  • The whole Kai Yaang (a charcoal-roasted game hen)
  • Ike’s vietnamese fish sauce wings (named one of the ten-best restaurant dishes in America by Food & Wine)
  • Duck leg in a savory broth
  • A flank steak (I think) salad

Wow.

The food was amazing. It was so good, I had to text Craig in the middle of the meal to let him know about it. (Craig and Lisa, let’s make it a priority to go there together, eh?) Plenty of lime and pepper and garlic and fish sauce, all lathered over a variety of poultry. What’s not to love?

The wings, especially, were delicious. As many of you know, I am a connoisseur of chicken wings. (Or maybe that’s a “sucker for”, I’m not sure.) I’m a fan of the smokey wings at the Oaks Bottom Pub. I appreciate most wings. But none compare to Ike’s Sticky Wings. Again, they’re simply amazing, coated with garlic and caramelized fish sauce. Delicious. “Hm,” said Kris. “Even I like these.”

In fact, after we left, Kris confessed, “I guess we can come back to Pok Pok. For Asian food, that’s not so bad.” Not so bad. It rocks!

How much did I like Pok Pok? I liked it so much that I went back again yesterday to have lunch with Andrew. If I could, I’d go there again today. J.D. has a new favorite restaurant.

You can read a rave review of Pok Pok at An Exploration of Portland Food and Drink.

Tags: Food & Drink · Portland · Rants and Raves  

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4 responses so far ↓
On 27 March 2008 (7:08 am), Tiffany said:

I’m having a hard time forgetting the wings also. Did you find out if they do any food to go?


On 27 March 2008 (7:33 am), Paul J. said:

Well it did get restaurant of the year last year (or the year before).


On 27 March 2008 (8:12 am), Lisa said:

Argh! I’m glad you liked it so much (the text message cracked us up), but I wish we could have eaten there that time with you. Next time we’ll have to make a group so that we can get a reservation, though I know that the group seating area isn’t as charming as the main restaurant.

I’m dreaming of what I had last time:

Kuung Op Wun Sen
Wild caught gulf prawns baked in a clay pot over charcoal with pork belly, whiskey, soy, ginger, cilantro root, black pepper, Chinese celery and bean thread noodles. Chinese influence on Thai food in full evidence.


On 27 March 2008 (2:45 pm), Lane said:

If you ever need a fifth wheel, drop me a line.


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