Jump to content


Photo

Pok Pok


  • Please log in to reply
620 replies to this topic

#1 malachi

malachi
  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • Location:SE Portland
  • Interests:coffee, food, espresso, wine, rock climbing

Posted 21 November 2005 - 01:25 PM

Oh my.
I am beyond happy.
So in another thread there was some discussion about lack of options, particularly in certain ethnic areas.
Ironically, I just had lunch at Pok Pok (which, by the way, means mortar and pestle).
Pok Pok is a tiny little new takout place on SE Division (Division at 32nd). Just opened in the last week or two.

It was amazing.
Seriously fantastic.

They're very focused - their menu is tiny and only the local food of this one restaurant in Chiang Mai as I understand it.

Menu (in total) is:

Kai Yaang - Charcoal rotisserie roasted game bird stuffed with lemongrass and garlic, served with a spicy sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Papaya Pok Pok - Green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, thai chili, lime, tamarind, dried shrimp, naam plaa, garlic, palm sugar and peanuts made to order in the pok pok.
Muu Sateh - Pork loin skewers marinated in coconut milk and tumeric, grilled over charcoal and served with cucumber relish, peanut sauce and grilled bread.
Khao Soi Kai - Chiang Mai-style chicken noodles in a milk coconut soup topped with crispy yellow noodles, shallots, pickled mustard greens and served with a hot chili paste.
Yam Kai Yaang - Roasted game hen salad with green mango, kaffir lime leaf, mint, mild green chilis, green onions and peanuts in a lime and roasted chili dressing.
Khao Man Som Tam - Papaya Pok Pok served with steamed coconut rice, sweet shredded pork and fried shallots.
Sticky Rice
Coconut Rice
Cucumber Relish
Peanut Sauce
Shrimp Chips
Cha Manao - Thai iced tea with fresh lime juice.
Cha Yen - Thai iced tea with evaporated milk.
Nam Manao - fresh squeezed lime juice.
Vietnamese coffee
Stumptown coffee
Guava or lychee or passionfruit or mango or young coconut juice



As noted earlier, this is a takeout place. There are some outdoor tables - but until the summer I can't seem them getting a ton of action. They have some heaters but the combination of the wind and the air temp made them not very useful.

In addition, the hours and days they're open are somewhat sporadic. It's a very good idea to call first (503 232 1387).

We had the Kai Yaang, the Papaya Pok Pok and the Khao Soi Kai along with some sticky rice, Cha Yen and Nam Manao.

The papaya salad was really, really good. Incredibly complex and yet perfectly balanced between sweet, spicy, salty and astringent.

The soup was perfect for a day like today and was so much more interesting and complicated that the usual US thai soups. The crispy noodles added texture complexity and the pickled mustard greens were a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet soup and very hot chili paste.

And the roasted game hen... this is clearly the signature dish. Incredibly crispy, crackly skin - wonderfully moist flesh, slightly smoky from the charcoal with amazing aromatics from the lemmongrass and garlic stuffing... DAMN!!! The sauce was that perfect Thai balancing act and was an ideal foil to the oily and earthy bird. One of the best things I've eaten in a very, very long time.


Go there!!
Seriously!

#2 krispenn

krispenn
  • Members
  • 442 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:NE PDX

Posted 21 November 2005 - 01:56 PM

Damnit! Even though I'm doing game hens for T-day, still makes me want to wander over there tomorrow and try it for lunch.

Malachi - we must live in proximity to each other 8)

--kris

#3 malachi

malachi
  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • Location:SE Portland
  • Interests:coffee, food, espresso, wine, rock climbing

Posted 21 November 2005 - 03:06 PM

sounds as if...
grin.

I know that I will be there tomorrow for lunch (assuming they are open).

#4 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 21 November 2005 - 03:45 PM

Okay, it looks like I might have to head out to dinner tonight....

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#5 malachi

malachi
  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • Location:SE Portland
  • Interests:coffee, food, espresso, wine, rock climbing

Posted 21 November 2005 - 03:52 PM

Did you call to make sure they're open tonight?
If they are... maybe I'll have dinner from there as well!

#6 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 21 November 2005 - 05:26 PM

They're open until 8pm. They'll be closed Th-Su this week. Then they'll be open for lunch with a break between services and then until 8pm during the winter.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#7 SportEater

SportEater
  • Members
  • 47 posts

Posted 21 November 2005 - 06:04 PM

Yeah, good stuff! I've had the sticky rice and som tam, er, Papaya Pok Pok, which was very nicely balanced, but sadly didn't come without the little salted dried shrimp, which I really love in som tam. Maybe they were just out that day?

The khao soi was also really good. Not as brothy as I like, but spicy and rich and bright all at the same time. Made with egg noodles, which I prefer over rice noodles for the dish. Thai Noon's is still solidly my favorite in town, but theirs is a close second.

Speaking of khao soi, there's a little trailer in Hood River that's run by a couple from Chiang Mai, and they make a good khao soi, but only on Sundays. (I think it's on their menu as "Chiang Mai Sunday Soup.") It's across the street from China Gorge restaurant, and a bit closer to the interstate, in the parking lot of a windsurfing place (yeah, that should narrow it down) and a health food store. A nice stop if you're passing through on a Sunday. They're open other days, and their other curries are good too, but that's all I've tried. I think the trailer's bright yellow, if I recall correctly.

#8 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 21 November 2005 - 06:39 PM

I got that Hood River cart recommended to me a while back, but every time I've gone by it's been closed. Drives me nuts. Maybe on the way out to The Dalles for Thanksgiving (or on the way back).

I haven't tried Thai Noon's kao soi. My favorite is still Sukhothai's, though it's frustratingly inconsistent. It's usually pretty good, but depending on who's in the kitchen, either the noodles can be cooked improperly or the pickled greens can be forgotten.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#9 malachi

malachi
  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • Location:SE Portland
  • Interests:coffee, food, espresso, wine, rock climbing

Posted 21 November 2005 - 06:40 PM

Dinner was Yam Kai Yaang.

Super tasty.
Lovin' it.

#10 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 21 November 2005 - 10:44 PM

Got there just before closing. They were out of the khao soi. Got the Khao man som tam.

Both the green papaya and the beans had a nice crispness to them. I too missed the dried shrimp bits (I made up for it with a bag of shrimp chips), but it had a nice flavor overall. The dressing was pounded and mixed in the pok pok, a large (like gallon or two) mortar and pestle right before service. It was a well-balanced dressing, sweet, sour, salty, and fishy. It was moderately spicy. I would have added some chiles if I were making it for myself. A very good green papaya salad.

And then they "kicked it up a notch" by adding the coconut rice and sweet shredded pork with fried shallots. Mmm. The coconut rice was loose, not sticky. I was hoping it was sticky because I was eating it in the car with my hands having forgot to grab a plastic fork. The coconut flavor was subtle, a foundation and aroma for the rice like cardamon in Indian basmati, not a something to overwhelm the salad or the pork. Just as it should be. The pork itself was terrific -- tender, caramelly sweet and a little tangy. All this for $6.

Pok Pok, for now, is just a hut with a covered, unheated area. It looks like they have one of those propane heat "lamps" that they could use in the future. And next door is a house that in 6-8 months is going to be a full bar/restaurant.

I'll probably be back tomorrow to try more. (I'm going to The Dalles, so maybe I can hit that Hood River cart tomorrow, too.)

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#11 malachi

malachi
  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • Location:SE Portland
  • Interests:coffee, food, espresso, wine, rock climbing

Posted 22 November 2005 - 09:20 AM

Nick - you have to try the Kai Yaang.
It's what's for lunch for me today!

#12 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 22 November 2005 - 11:01 AM

We'll see. My wife will probably be eating with me, so that's one of only two things left, really. Although, last night they didn't look especially good.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#13 pokpok

pokpok
  • Members
  • 49 posts

Posted 22 November 2005 - 04:06 PM

Hi, thanks for the kind words. FYI, the som tam does have dried shrimp in it every time, it's just that i am using the pulverized version instead of the whole shrimp so as not to freak out the less adventurous eaters out there. It is integral to this version of som tam (others use pickled land crab, unpasteurized fish sauce and other much more hectic ingredients) and as such, i did not want people to say "none of those dried shrimp, please" and miss out on the real flavor. If any of you want the whole shrimp, please request next time you come in and i will gladly make it that way. Ok. andy

#14 malachi

malachi
  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • Location:SE Portland
  • Interests:coffee, food, espresso, wine, rock climbing

Posted 22 November 2005 - 05:45 PM

The Kai Yaang today was fabulous.

#15 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 22 November 2005 - 07:37 PM

Thanks pokpok for the info. We had a meal at Sukhothai once that had a lot of off-menu items and they made a green mango salad with preserved crab for us and it was delicious.

Tonight we stopped by on the way home and got the kai yaang (half a chicken for $4.95) and the khao soi ($6.95). The chicken was indeed good with a nicely caramelized and flavorful skin. I wonder if the skin would be crisp at all if I were to get it fresh or not have to take it home in a container. That was really the only thing to complain about. The marinade/rub of lemongrass and garlic was still in the cavities and you could smell it and taste it in the meat. Yummy.

The khao soi had chunks of chicken and egg noodles in a yellow curry. They packed crispy-fried egg noodles along with sliced shallots, pickled greens and leaves of cilantro separately from the curry. The curry was fairly typical tasting, but good. The noodles were nicely cooked, not gummy or mushy. The chicken was tender and moist. The crispy noodles were a bit too soft, probably from spending the trip home in the container. But I liked them. The pickled greens were more stalk than leaf and a bit sweet for me. I'd prefer more tangy. Overall, a very good version, great for $7.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#16 unclepauly

unclepauly
  • Members
  • 101 posts

Posted 02 January 2006 - 08:08 PM

just moved here from philly, but married to a 1/2 thai woman who's family is obsessed with som tum, or papaya salad... the northern way, which pok pok should serve, has lots of chilies in it... im dying for some, so i'm definitely going to check this place out this week sometime....many times in thailand, they also serve this with a baby crab in it, just mashed up with the mortar and pestle, giving the salad a nice saltiness....

#17 ExtraMSG

ExtraMSG
  • Admin
  • 18,350 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Felony Flats
  • Interests:Me like food.

Posted 03 January 2006 - 05:58 AM

Welcome to the site, Unclepauley.

I think Pok Pok is making it more northern, as in Chiang Mai, rather than northeaster, as in Issan. Not sure which you're looking for. (Make sure you tell them how you like it, though, because they may assume differently.) My experience with the latter is that it's more fishy like Lao style. Sukhothai (a restaurant here) uses those preserved crabs for themselves but not for their dishes, unfortunately. We had a dinner there about two years ago and they made a green mango salad with the salted crabs.

Also try Siam Society if you haven't already.

It's interesting because two of the most recent and most promising Thai restaurants in town have farangs in the kitchen. Siam Society's chef is married to the co-owner who is a second generation Thai-American, but still...

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#18 vj

vj
  • Moderator
  • 2,747 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Albina (NE Pdx)

Posted 03 January 2006 - 03:21 PM

So, um, what or who is a farang?

#19 malachi

malachi
  • Members
  • 204 posts
  • Location:SE Portland
  • Interests:coffee, food, espresso, wine, rock climbing

Posted 03 January 2006 - 03:30 PM

whitey
actually... technically "non-thai of other origin" I think

#20 SportEater

SportEater
  • Members
  • 47 posts

Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:04 PM

Wow, that just brought back a fond memory that many many years ago, Johnny, the crazy guy at Bangkok Kitchen taught me how to say "it's OK, burn the farang" in Thai to ensure that my food would actually be made spicy when ordering at other Thai restaurants. Sadly, I've since forgotten.