Why Come Here? Real Thai flavors in interesting preparations, relaxed setting
After spending a month in Thailand a few years back, I became obsessed with finding traditional flavors here in New York. And that means moving past the curries and basil chili dishes that plague most Thai menus in New York. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these things when done well, but there’s so much more to Thai cuisine that rarely makes it’s way across the Pacific. Yes, there are a few places out in Queens that do it well and some decent ones in Manhattan too. But when I heard about Pok Pok and Chef Andy Ricker’s quest to bring real Thai flavors to NY, I knew I had to try it. So on its second night, I made the trip to the unfamiliar confines of the “Columbia Water Front District” of Brooklyn aka The Docks. Actually other than the industrial water front, the surrounding area is quite nice, even suburban feeling. Strange considering it’s proximity to Manhattan, although it is nearly a 15 minute walk to the F train.
The front of Pok Pok is small and unremarkable looking. The back area however, reminded me of a restaurant in Thailand, complete with walls made of nothing but bamboo (not sure what their plan is for cold weather). Unfortunatley Pok Pok doesn’t take reservations, which left us waiting for over an hour. However, it was quite pleasant to sit in the almost open back area and sip from their impressive cocktail list (try The Honey). When we did sit, the first surprise was the pandan water instead of normal tap. It’s a little sweet and actually quite refreshing with the spicy foods. The food itself featured flavors from Thailand I’ve rarely experience here and everything was done extremely well. Impressive considering I didn’t see a single Thai on the staff. Here’s a rundown of what we had – check DishEnvy for updates and additional photos.
Kai Yang (Hen stuffed with herbs and served with dipping sauces) This is a house specialty and is loaded with thai flavors. Usually I don’t like hen, mostly because of the work involved getting the meat off the bones, but this was worth it.
Muu Kham Waan (Charcoal grilled Pork Neck) Pork neck may sound weird, but it’s similar to other cuts of meat, but very tender and flavorful. The sweet, spicy and tangy sauce on the charcoal grilled pork is a real treat
Neua Naam Tok (Spicy Issan Flank Steak Salad) This reminded me of the flavors of one of my favorite dishes while in Thailand. Warning: it’s very spicy! However, the spice is well integrated and you actually don’t even notice it at first. There’s also the cooling effect of the mint and cilantro. If you can handle the heat, it’s really a perfect dish in my opinion
Pok Pok NY
127 Columbia Street (Kane & DeGraw Sts.)