On Presidents Day, Kris and I met Lisa and Craig at Pok Pok, a popular Asian restaurant here in Portland. We showed up at 8pm, thinking it would be easy to get a table on a Monday night. We were wrong. The wait was 90 minutes. Disappointed, we dined at Nostrana instead.
But I couldn’t shake the idea of Pok Pok. I love Thai and Vietnamese food. Kris doesn’t care for Asian food, so I’m always happy when she’ll let me choose it for our dinners out. When Tiffany offered to take me out to dinner for my birthday, I chose Pok Pok.
This time we showed up at 5:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. There was still a 20-minute wait (Pok Pok doesn’t take reservations except for parties of five or more), but that was reasonable. We sat outside in a covered waiting area. Once we entered the restaurant, we understood why the wait was so long: the place is tiny, seating maybe 30 people (with a few more spots at the bar).
Right away, I knew I was going to love the place. The smells were amazing. I loved the cramped space and the low ceiling. It didn’t feel like any other restaurant in Portland.
The dinner menu is filled with J.D.-friendly foods: lots of meat and sauces and rice, and only a few vegetables. Because servings are relatively small, family-style dining is encouraged. We ordered:
- The whole Kai Yaang (a charcoal-roasted game hen)
- Ike’s vietnamese fish sauce wings (named one of the ten-best restaurant dishes in America by Food & Wine)
- Duck leg in a savory broth
- A flank steak (I think) salad
The food was amazing. It was so good, I had to text Craig in the middle of the meal to let him know about it. (Craig and Lisa, let’s make it a priority to go there together, eh?) Plenty of lime and pepper and garlic and fish sauce, all lathered over a variety of poultry. What’s not to love?
The wings, especially, were delicious. As many of you know, I am a connoisseur of chicken wings. (Or maybe that’s a “sucker for”, I’m not sure.) I’m a fan of the smokey wings at the Oaks Bottom Pub. I appreciate most wings. But none compare to Ike’s Sticky Wings. Again, they’re simply amazing, coated with garlic and caramelized fish sauce. Delicious. “Hm,” said Kris. “Even I like these.”
In fact, after we left, Kris confessed, “I guess we can come back to Pok Pok. For Asian food, that’s not so bad.” Not so bad. It rocks!
How much did I like Pok Pok? I liked it so much that I went back again yesterday to have lunch with Andrew. If I could, I’d go there again today. J.D. has a new favorite restaurant.