Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New York: Pok Pok NY

generation eat

Final NYC Summer 2013 post. Best for last.
Bon Appetit releases a list of the 20 most important restaurants in America. Why should you care? Because I read Bon Appetit. Not because of my Knowlton crush, but because whether or not I agree with everything they say, their content is solid - well written and thoroughly researched. I've eaten at a few places on the list, there was one (or two) I disagree with, and then there were several that piqued my interest - the one that stood out the most is pok pok NY.
So let's say you don't care about the list, chances are you care about Anthony Bourdain - perhaps the most outspoken mutherfudder in the culinary world. He's refreshingly blunt and I love his show(s), as do my friends, and their friends. They just appeal to my generation. In the finale of No Reservations Bourdain goes to Pok Pok with Chef Eddie Huang. (FYI Bourdain's new show is on CNN.)

But say none of that appeals to you. Then I offer you the truest literary form. An article in New York magazine. It's personally my favourite review of Pok Pok.

What do you need to know about Pok Pok? Perhaps that the reason it's such a phenomenon is because American Chef Andy Ricker has succeeded where Americans and Canadians have failed. Bourdain said "of all of the reasonable things you could do in this world, why would you embrace a cuisine that just about every Western guy who every tried to get it right completely f*cked up?".

I'm guessing Ricker did it because he knew he'd get it right. As I tell the sister, the key to success is keeping it real. In life, or on the plate. Then I do a Celine chest bump. 
Minnie and I got to Pok Pok at 5. We were the only ones there. What about the lines? Well, by 530 we were seated (inside because I was melting in the humidity) and at 545 inside was at about 70 percent capacity and
the garden shed was full.
It's a Tuesday by the way. A New Yorker we met outside told us it's still almost impossible to get a seat on weekends - consistently long lines, people being turned away. I guess it's as dramatic as they say.
Ricker, 2011 James Beard Best Chef Northwest, serves northern and northeastern Thai food with other influences including his own. It's a beautiful vision - to showcase the world class flavours of Thai food - a far cry from pad thai. Pok Pok is awesome, inexpensive, and delicious.
The servers are one with the menu, and they're happy to guide you in your decisions. The dishes are served up like street food - no frills, no pretense. Just plates/bowls/pots of intense, complex and intricate flavours. What do I mean by that? Just that every detail of every dish was thought out. The end result? Deceptively simple and truly delicious food:
Papaya Pok Pok - Spicy papaya salad:
Fresh and spicy and addictively delicious
Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Chicken Wings:
Marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar. They are fried and have a caramelized coating. Really good. (In case you're curious, Phnom Penh is still my number one lover.)
Kaeng Hung Leh:
North Thai sweet pork belly and pork shoulder curry - it's a rich brown (tamarind) and smells so intense - garlic, Burmese curry powder, tumeric and ginger all hit you at once. Exotic and yummy and eaten with sticky rice.
Loved the meal. Loved the service. A win for the white guy.
Pok Pok NY on Urbanspoon


  1. Well, Pok Pok was on my to-try list when it was just open. I have to say it is not my favorite. Can I recommend you two excellent Thai spots in NYC? I have been to tons of Thai restaurants in North America and these two are definitely still on top. Pure Thai Kitchen in Hell's Kitchen. It's famous for the street style Thai food. I love all salads on their menu. Sripriphai is a gem in Queens. The menus might be 10 pages long but all of them are great. Highly recommend my favorite weekly dishes, BBQ pork tender with jaw sauce and crispy soft shell crab with green mango salad.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I've added them to my list for my next visit.


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