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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
QUESTION: Can you handle spicy food?