If you’re a foodie… you’ve heard of Pok Pok. It has made quite the splash in Portland, Oregon. Andy Ricker won the James Beard award for Best Chef. His recently released cookbook by the same name, Pok Pok, has been awarded numerous ‘Best Cookbook’ awards by impressive publications the likes of Food & Wine, Epicurious, Eater National, Chowhound, The Atlantic, and Andrew Zimmern to name a few.
I have the cookbook. It’s a beautiful book with scrumptious food and long ingredient lists. Someone asked me once why I buy the particular cookbooks I have. In large part, it’s either because it’s a restaurant I want to go to (though may or may not ever get the chance) or a restaurant I have been fortunate enough to have gone, and want to prepare that food at home. Many times both will be true… as in the case of Pok Pok.
I never actually expected to go to Portland and go to Pok Pok… but when or if I next go to Oregon, it’ll be on the top of my list. So I bought the cook book wanting to prepare Andy Ricker’s food at home and taste for myself (without actually going to Oregon) what the buzz was all about.
So when Andy Ricker opened a Pok Pok in LA, well… the rest was history. We put it on our restaurant go-to list… and when in LA, went to Pok Pok.
We just had to try Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. These tender wings are marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried and caramelized with fish sauce and garlic. This is the signature dish, and a dish which Andy claims is so popular it pays the mortgage. After having tried them… I can see why.
The crispy fried fish appetizer, Yam Plaa Salit, was a spicy salad of crispy fish with lime juice, palm sugar, and fish sauce with celery, sweet onions, garlic and chilies. I loved the sweet, sour, spicy sauce with the crunchy fish. I love the sauce, the crunch, and the vegetables… but I didn’t love the bones, as they were very distracting and completely compromised an otherwise great dish.
The beef salad, Neua Naam Tok, was a flavorful salad of flank steak, fish sauce, lime, chili powder dressing, shallots, lemongrass, mint, cilantro and toasted rice powder. It was delicious. Again, loved the sauce, and that sweet-sour-spiciness.
I felt like we just scratched the surface. I wanted to try so many more of the amazing looking items on their menu. The couple next to us had a one plate meal of thai curry, called Khai Soi. It looked so good, I want to order that next time. But then, I have the cookbook… so I may get inspired.