Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Pok Pok - Portland, OR
Accolades have been heaped on Pok Pok - locally and nationally. The question often asked is if it's true to its roots authentic Thai food or is it westernized for the American palate?
Pok Pok Special. Kai Yaang, papaya pok pok, and sticky rice.
Kai Yaang game hen.The plate came out about 5 minutes after the order was put in so the hen had been prepared in advance. It was tepid at best but none the less, it was stellar. It was moist, succulent, soft, and tender. The flavor was slightly smoky, sweet with a caramel note, garlicky, and hints of Asian flavors which I couldn't quite put my finger (or tongue) on. The lemongrass based filling had the distinct bitter lemon taste but that flavor didn't seem to be imparted whatsoever. I could eat this hen preparation every meal.
Dipping sauce. The tamarind based sauce with the herbs was earthy, grassy, with a slight bitter note. The red sauce was sweet and spicy.
I had papaya salads prepared fresh at Southeast Asian groceries - Hmong, Vietnamese, etc - by grandmothers, mothers, and daughters. With that eating behind me, the Pok Pok papaya salad is spicy but flat lacking the depth, the salty sweetness and infusion of fish sauce. Thai eggplant would have also been a nice ingredient to add.
Sticky rice. Good for the carbs and to neutralize the spiciness but otherwise pedestrian.
Restroom Rating: 7.5. Relatively clean.