After reading so much about Pok Pok, I finally got to try it, and I’m glad I did. Getting to the place was a bit of a challenge since it is tucked away in the Brooklyn waterfront on Columbia Street, a good hike from the subway and in an area where parking is at a premium. Nonetheless we persevered and were rewarded with a parking spot three blocks away. The exterior is pretty laid back and blends in with the neighborhood, so if you are not careful, you can miss it. There is a sister restaurant Pok Pok Phat Thai, which is a noodle place serving primarily Pad Thai in various permutations. The one we went to is the larger restaurant with a varied menu.
The food here is different from the other Thai restaurants that we’ve been to in that this place specializes in northern Thai street/drinking food, as evidenced by the menu, and it is pricier that the usual Thai place. A quick perusal did not show any of the traditional Thai dishes that one expects to find, which is great since it makes it fun to discover new dishes. It did, however, make the decision making process a little longer since we had to imagine what each dish would taste like. We finally went with Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (for obvious reasons – it literally had my name on it, and it is a house specialty), Hoi Thawt, Laap Muu Khua, Long Op Wun Sen, and Sii Khrong Muu Yaang. The dishes overall were excellent, we enjoyed every one of them. If I had to rank them by preference, then the Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings would be number 1. Crispy, sweet, salty (from the fish sauce) and garlicky they were an immediate hit with me – I only wish there were more per serving!
Coming in at number 2 would be the Sii Khrong Muu Yaang. Slow roasted pork ribs marinated in lao jiin, soy sauce, honey, ginger and Thai spices served with 2 spicy dipping sauce. The ribs themselves were firm and chewy and when dipped in both sauces had a complex flavor – sweet, tangy, salty, spicy with a caramelly aftertaste.
At number 3 is the Hoi Thawt. A crispy broken crepe with steamed fresh mussels, eggs, chives and bean sprouts, served with a Thai Sri Racha sauce. Crispy and crunchy from the crepe and bean sprouts with a sweetness from the mussels and spiciness from the Sriracha sauce, this dish reminded me of a Korean Oyster Pancake (Gul Jeon) or a Taiwanese Oyster Omelet (Oh Ah Tzen).
Rolling in at number 4 is the Long Op Wun Sen. A chewy bean thread noodle dish baked in a clay pot with Carolina white prawns with pork belly, lao jiin, soy sauce, ginger, cilantro root, black pepper, and Chinese celery. Savory, salty, shrimpy, and meaty from the pork belly, this dish reminded me of a Filipino dish called Pancit Sotanghon – a traditional cellophane noodle dish made of chicken, shrimp, vegetables, wood ear mushrooms to name a few of the ingredients.
Last but not least is the Laap Muu Khua Phrae. Prepared in the manner of a town (called Phrae) in Northern Thailand, this minced pork dish flavored with indigenous spices from that region, herbs, pork cracklings (pork rinds or chicharron) and crispy fried garlic and served with phak sot (Thai Sri Racha sauce). Herby, porky, aromatic, crunchy, slightly citrusy, and eaten with a leaf of lettuce and spicy from a dollop of phak sot. This dish goes great with sticky rice.
I can’t wait to go back and try the other dishes. Stay tuned