One of the first things I do when I know I’m going to visit a new city, is explore their restaurant options. What do they do best? What are they known for? What’s new and interesting? When I was planning my trip to Portland, Pok Pok immediately popped up on my radar. Andy Ricker, chef/owner of Pok Pok won a James Beard Award in 2011, and this casual dining spot is very popular. Also, it specializes in South East Asian food with a strong street food flair. My. Absolute. Favorite. I was going to Pok Pok hell or high water.
Sister and her game roommate in tow, we headed out one Friday evening. After a long wait (more about that in the future) we finally found ourselves nestled in Pok Pok’s tiny indoor space after 9pm. Sleepy, but excited, we dove into the menu. I ordered the Khoa Soi Kai, a northern Thailand coconut curry dish with noodles, fried tofu (also available with chicken), house-pickled mustard greens. The dish traditionally comes mild, though I asked them to spice it up a bit. Though the yellow noodles used in this dish are usually not my favorite, they do add a depth of flavor and reminded me of the many wonderful noodle dished I ate while traveling in Malaysia.
My sister ordered the Yam Mekheua Yao, a cold grilled eggplant salad with chilis, lime, shallots, and boiled eggs. We both fell in love with cold grilled eggplant in Marrakesh, and this salad, a restaurant favorite, lived up to expectations.