Andy Ricker’s Portland transplant Pok Pok in Brooklyn has been quite the talk ever since arrival. Southeast Asian street food at it’s finest with major influences from Thailand. There are no reservations which can create frustrating waiting time periods but luckily he has a cool bar across the street called Whiskey Soda Lounge for the overflow- and they do serve snacks here, too. Even luckier is that I was invited to attend a Pepcid Tastemakers dinner at Pok Pok hosted by Chopped star Ted Allen and Eater New York. Finally a chance to attack this beloved restaurant. We started off with the Yam Samun Phai which is a traditional herbal salad in a mild coconut dressing. Light, crisp, refreshing and great whole cashew bites in the mix. Thank you very much for that little snack. If you hadn’t already heard, Pok Pok is pretty synonymous with Chicken Wings. These crunchy fish sauce wings pack in the heat and remind me of an extremely more respected General Tso’s Chicken dish but with the good kind of meat. The combination of the sweet and spicy sauce with the crunchy skin and tender meat is a surefire win. We were also served Phak Buung Fai Daeng which is flame stirred bok choy, thai chilies, preserved yellow beans and fish sauce. Similar to a flavorful steamed spinach but heck, I couldn’t get enough of it. It’s also a great vegetable to line the stomach with after those wings.The best main dish was definitely the Whole Steamed Striped Bass with ginger, mushrooms and soy. Whole fish always comes in first place at Asian inspired restaurants for me, and this one is just as good as the one at Pig & Khao in the Lower East Side. We also tried a Charcoal Roasted Label Rouge Hen. Dry in some parts but flavorful in others.
Sadly, the dessert was, well, forgettable, a little mushy and left unfinished. I do love my pumpkin and sticky rice, but this guy failed. If you can skip the wait at Pok Pok, have a friend put your name on the list or somehow skip the wait at Pok Pok, it’s totally worth it (takeout is available). The comfort in the room, casual benches and colorful tables create a fun, authentic yet relaxing spot to chow down and drink a brew.
All in all it was a fantastic event with Pepcid, Eater and Ted Allen.