Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pok Pok (Part 2)

(Initial Review -- June 2011)

It's been a long time since I've been to Pok Pok. Almost six years, in fact. Friends came in from out of town and wanted to go here. Clearly, I couldn't pass up the invite to tag along. Because science.

We went on a Saturday night. Since Division Street was packed with many excellent food spots and a couple of solid beer joints, parking was scarce. Throw in the usual dinner hour, and you're staring at about a 90-minute to 2-hour wait for a party of five at Pok Pok. That's where beer thirty at nearby Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom comes in to pass the time.

When we finally got the text that our table was ready, we walked the couple blocks back to Pok Pok and got seated fairly quickly.

The menu hasn't really changed since my last visit. If anything, the prices increased.

Of course, I was getting my Spicy Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings ($15.50). Five years ago, these same wings were $12. They are still whole wings (tip, wingette, and drumette) and coated in a sticky fish sauce glaze. Add the chile flakes (you can see the seeds on there) for extra heat, and this is an epic, flavorful dish worth coming back for. The cucumbers are just sliced raw veggies, but the cabbage, carrots, and daikon are all pickled.

Kung Op Wun Sen ($16.50) is a clay pot dish with bean thread noodles, gulf prawns, pork belly, cilantro root, lao jiin, soy, ginger, black pepper, and Chinese celery. Perfectly cooked shrimp and an ideal dish on a cool night.

Muu Paa Kham Waan ($15.50) was my other favorite dish of the night. Sliced boar collar meat topped with a spicy chile lime and garlic sauce, served with chilled mustard greens. As communicated to me, the greens were presented more as a need to ease any relief from the spice on the boar collar, but I didn't need the greens. The spice was perfect, and I could enjoy that sauce on anything - even just rice itself.

Khao Soi ($15.50) is a Northern Thai curry noodle soup using their secret curry paste recipe, coconut milk, and crispy yellow noodles. You can order it with chicken, with beef, or vegetarian. Delicious curry here, and the crispy noodles were a cool change from the norm.

Jasmine rice on the side

Finally, the Hoi Thawt ($13.50) is a crispy broken crepe (sliced into pieces) with steamed fish mussels, eggs, garlic, chives, and bean sprouts, served with fresh Thai sriracha. Again, delicious. One that I can keep eating all day - yet wish I could get a larger portion for the price.

I find it is best to go with a bunch of people, everyone order one thing, and share all the dishes. After all, that's pretty much what Pok Pok recommends.

While there's a full bar there, we had already gotten our alcoholic fix waiting for our table. The booze adventure will need to wait for another day.

Long wait aside, Pok Pok has some outstanding food. I highly recommend this place! 9/10

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