Pok Pok: The Restaurant Experience

Thirty people are waiting in the rain in front of a yellow shack/house, a few huddled under a standing umbrella, most getting their hoodies wet and not seeming to mind. It's two PM on Saturday and business as usual at Pok Pok on SE Division Street in Portland, Oregon, rain or shine. This is where the Pok Pok empire humbly began in 2005.

 Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, one of the three specialties of the house.

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, one of the three specialties of the house.

 The Vietnamese table salad refreshes the palate between bites of these astonishingly meaty, salty and sweet wings.

The Vietnamese table salad refreshes the palate between bites of these astonishingly meaty, salty and sweet wings.

 Yam Thua Pluu (wing-bean salad) is an out of body experience.

Yam Thua Pluu (wing-bean salad) is an out of body experience.

Begin with cocktails crafted especially for the intense food, a platter of wings, one half roasted hen and the papaya salad, as the menu is long even though the chalkboard appears short. Then order the things you can't resist from the menu and the board with the specials of the day, such as the Wing-bean Salad or the Laap Pet Issan (duck salad). 

Every bite transports your body and mind to someplace you haven't been before. It's stimulating, invigorating, intoxicating. It's almost like zip-lining. You don't want to stop even when you aren't hungry anymore. You want the experience to go on and on. That's the key to Andy Ricker's success. He had the experience traveling and wanted to try to duplicate it. As he says, it's not authentic or traditional, it's his memory of what it was like on the road in Thailand.

the specialties of the house

Kai Tang (Charcoal rotisserie roasted natural game hens stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro served with spicy sweet/sour and tamarind dipping sauces. The dish that was Andy Ricker's inspiration for Pok Pok.)

Papaya Pok Pok (Spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, Thai chile, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, dried shrimp and peanuts.)

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (Half dozen fresh whole natural chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic and served with Vietnamese table salad.)