“I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Last weekend my family (including my grandparents) and I traveled to Pok Pok in Brooklyn, New York, (http://www.pokpokny.com/) to enjoy authentic Northern Thai Cuisine.
We left our house at 3:00 just so we could snag a spot in line at 4:30. The restaurant didn’t even open until 5:30! At first I didn’t realize why we got there so early, but then I saw the gigantic line, snaking down the sidewalk, and I realized why we needed to beat the crowd.
When we entered the small, comfy restaurant, we were seated in a half booth, half table right in the middle of the action. As we sat down, we noticed the large chalkboard filled with specials, and we made a game plan for ordering.
Soon after , we were greeted by a very friendly waiter who answered our questions fully and took our order. Before we ordered we took a sip of water. After swallowing we realized that the water was not normal. We asked our kind waiter about the odd tasting water, and he described in great detail the process of putting a special Pandanus leaf in the water for a night, so that the water would taste like rice.
The water was putrid, and besides being an interesting idea, was a horrible takeaway of the meal.
Luckily Pok Pok had some very interesting drinks to order instead of water. I ordered a Naam Manao, or Thai style fresh squeezed limeade.
Other family members had Pok Pok Som drinking Vinegars. Mild, sweet, tart flavored vinegars mixed with club soda. We tried pineapple, ginger and apple. They were good.
To start we ordered a numerous extremely delicious snacks. One of these snacks was the Kai Yaang. The Kai Yaang is a juicy, tender charcoal roasted rotisserie game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper, and cilantro.
The herbs and vegetables stuffed into the bird gave it a very aromatic smell as well as flavor. This was served with a smooth spicy/sweet/sour dipping sauce, and a tangy tamarind sauce. The chicken was not a big hit among my family members, but it was certainly still delicious.
We also got two Papaya Pok Pok Salads (one vegetarian, and one not). Both Papaya Pok Pok Salads contained spicy green papaya strings with fresh tomatoes, snake-like beans, piquant Thai chili’s, refreshing lime juice, spice-filled garlic, and crunchy peanuts. (The Non- Vegetarian had dried shrimp).
The Papaya salad was a favorite of my families and everybody enjoyed their fair share of it.
Our last appetizer were the Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. The wings were deep fried to crispy perfection and were slathered with fish sauce and crisp garlic.
The wings were the best part of the meal by far and were so mouth-wateringly fantastic, that we ordered two servings of them.
For our first main course we got Het Paa Naam Tok. The Het Paa Naam Tok was made up of, succulent forest mushrooms tossed with soy sauce, lime juice, and chili powder and was served with a variety of straight from the farm herbs and vegetables.
This dish was fantastic and was devoured by the ravenous beasts of my family in no time at all.
Alongside all these dishes we enjoyed small baskets of Sticky Rice. The rice was cooked in a plastic bag within the basket and the result was sweet sticky perfection.
This was all my little brother ate, and he was very happy.
Next we had Sii Khrong Muu Yaang. This dish was moist, meaty spare ribs that were marinated in whisky, soy, honey, and ginger, and then slow roasted.
Personally I did not enjoy the ribs, as a result of their strange smell, and taste. The ribs tasted like apple vinegar and smelled like bad hot dogs. Although they did not tickle my fancy, the rest of my family seemed to like them!
In addition we got Cha Ca “La Vong”. This dish contained one of my favorite fish ever, Catfish. In this dish, the catfish was simply fried in tumeric oil and was served on steamy rice noodles with perfectly crumbled peanuts and an assortment of bright green vivid vegetables.
The catfish was warm and fell right apart in your mouth. It was almost like butter and was bursting with subtle flavors.
Finally we got Kung Op Wun Sen. This dish contained perfectly baked Prawns with crunchy, fatty, juicy pork belly, and was served on a bed of slippery celery and bean thread noodles.
This dish was served in a clay pot. The dish contained an unbeatable combination of flavors/ingredients.
Even though I was very full, I ordered a Whisky Soda Float. Bourbon flavored ice cream in a large glass of Cola. There were cherries on top. This was very good, and I don’t think there was alcohol in it!
Overall the food at Pok Pok was delicious. The close attention the chefs of the restaurant pay to detail is incredible and stunned my whole family. The atmosphere of the restaurant was very squished and we felt like sardines in a can. Although it was a tight seating arrangement, that allowed us to converse easily and enjoy the full extent of the restaurant.
The value of Pok Pok was a little on the expensive side for the medium sized dishes. The service at the restaurant was fantastic. Our waiter was very helpful when it came to deciding what to get, and even threw out a couple of recommendations himself.
Overall I would definitely recommend taking the trek to Brooklyn in your near future. Just ask for a drink other than water! I would give it ZZZZ- 4 Z’s- Awesome!