Pok Pok!

Thursday was a weird day for me. I left work early to go to the eye doctor (which I hate–I have an absolute phobia regarding eye “stuff”). I had to have my left eye dilated (which I’d never had done before and it was very weird). I got my new prescription, the a-okay from the doc and then went to the pool. I felt okay to swim because my goggles are shaded and my eye didn’t bother me at all in the pool. It was a good swim and then Michael and I went out for date night.

We went to Pok Pok! Pok Pok is probably in the top 5 restaurants in Portland. They make every list, I’ve read about the restaurant in food magazines and the buzz surrounding this place is nothing but good. I used to live near the restaurant and every day I drove by the restaurant there were lines and crowds outside of the restaurant.

Because of the notoriously long waits to get into the restaurant, I never went. Until last night. It was a rainy, dreary evening and there weren’t really lines (thankfully). We had the option of outdoor seating under heat lamps or inside. I voted for inside so we had to wait for 15 minutes.

I was okay with waiting for a seat inside. I wore my sunglasses because of my eye (sexy, huh?) and enjoyed a glass of red wine.

We finally got seated inside the restaurant and it was packed but the ambiance was nice and romantic. The indoor restaurant was partially underground and had a bunker-like feel to it. It was very relaxing and comfortable though, and we both commented on how it felt like a different world in there.

Michael and I split a Thai Salad: Yam Samun Phrai. “Northern Thai Herbal Salad with ginger, carrot, parsnip, betal leaf, basil, lemongrass, lime leaf, sawtooth, fried shallots, cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, dry shrimp, ground pork, and Thai chilies with mild coconut milk dressing.

The salad was delicious and light. I liked the nuts added to the salad and am determined to recreate this salad somehow.

So what did I order? Probably the superstar of the menu. I zeroed in on it, loved the sound of it and the waiter highly recommended it. He did warn me it was spicy. You know you’re in trouble when your entree arrives with a side of ICE and mustard greens to cool your palate! YIKES!

I was a little nervous that my entree was going to be inediblely spicy…Then it arrived:

I ordered the “Muu Paa Kham Waan: boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper, glazed with soy and sugar; grilled over charcoal and served with chilled mustard greens and a spicy chili/lime/garlic sauce.

I also got a side of sticky rice to go with my entree–thank goodness! My dish was SPICY. Like, clear your sinuses, mouth on fire, sweating in an unladylike way kind of spicy. And I loved every bite of it! It was excellent. Michael had several bites of mine because he loved it too.

Michael’s dish was the flank steak Neua Naam Tok: with fish sauce, lime and chili powder dressing, shallots and lemongrass, mint, cilantro and toasted rice powder. He didn’t like his dish as much as he liked mine, but it was still pretty tasty.

The water served was infused with some sort of palm leaves. It tasted a lot like coconut water to me.

I’m not a huge fan of coconut water, though, so it was a little strange. It was definitely needed with my spicy dinner though!

What I loved most about Pok Pok: it didn’t feel like unhealthy, greasy Thai food like most Thai restaurants do. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Pad Thai–sometimes the greasier the better–but it’s not what I’d call healthy. Everything I ate last night felt like authentic, whole foods and there was nothing greasy about any of it.

After dinner, we walked across the street to the new Food Cart Utopia that has popped up in an empty parking lot. It really is an excellent location because I bet the food carts get TONS of business from people impatiently waiting to get into Pok Pok!

Unfortunately there weren’t any Food Carts that offered dessert and our flaming mouths were craving cool ice cream. We ended up at Baskin Robbins instead! It’s been years since I was at Baskin Robbins.

I got a scoop of mint chocolate ice cream complete with pieces of Oreo cookies and Andes Mints. YUM! It was delectable. And the perfect end to a perfect meal.

QUESTION: Can you handle spicy food?

15 Responses

  1. I feel for you having your eye dilated! That’s my least favorite part of the exam. It amuses me that after they dilate you they expect you to write a check or look at money to try to pay them, and you can’t see!

    I can only handle medium spicy food, but my husband loves the “so spicy it makes you cry” stuff. He normally only does that with Chinese or Thai food though.

  2. Wow – Spicy boar. That is super adventurous! Sounds amazing. I do like spicy. Chris says he likes spicy but it doesn’t like him. The ice on the side would have scared me too.

    That’s another one on our list that we’ll have to try.

    1. The boar was just like steak to me instead of pork like I was expecting. It was very adventurous for me but it paid off. I loved it! You guys will definitely get a kick out of that restaurant. I think going there this summer and sitting in their outdoor area would be nice!

  3. That sounds like such an awesome dinner Lisa! I love authentic thai food too, with so many flavors and light sauces instead of the heavy, greasy, american-ized version.

    I can handle a little bit of spice. Too spicy and I can’t take it!

    1. I think it was the first time I’d had authentic Thai. It was lovely! I told a friend and she said “I’d get Pad thai.” I explained that wasn’t on the menu, that the food wasn’t the Americanized, greasy type of Thai but authentic and she didn’t seem interested. πŸ˜‰ Oh well! It’s not for everyone.

  4. Funny that they only dilated one eye. I always end up having both done and need to stay indoors because of light sensitivity for hours.

    I love, love, love spicy food! I will lick hot sauce direct from a spoon. πŸ˜€

    Sometimes I pay the next day, though…
    Lori recently posted..Renovation Nation

    1. It was my choice. I was in there specifically for the left eye and to get my eyes examined for new contacts. There really wasn’t a need for both eyes to be dilated. I’m glad they weren’t, either!

  5. Yup, I can handle spicy food, but only to a certain extent (no ghost peppers for me(. Growing up, my mom would often make two versions of dishes, one without the chile and one with. I preferred the latter since my Mexican spicy food loving palate had not yet kicked in. I can handle spicy foods better now. I usually want to add hot sauce or red pepper flakes to most food. I can’t do spicy without water though.

  6. Thanks for the great info on Pok Pok. I’ve seen it mentioned several times. I doubt I would have ever tried boar collar meat, but you may have sold me on trying the Muu Paa Kham Waan. I’m still curious about the ice and mustard green side dish. Was it just for show or did it really help offset the heat?
    And yes, I do love spicy food. In particular, spicy Thai food!
    Chad Everett recently posted..Pirates Aargh

    1. You should definitely give it a try. One of my new favorite places. They had game hen, flank steak, prawns and vegetarian dishes too if boar isn’t your thing. I didn’t know it would be my thing either, but it tasted and looked just like steak.

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