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Portland: Pok Pok

Pok Pok is a Portland institution on the same scale as Powell’s Books, and Voodoo Doughnuts, and is a rag-to-riches-to-legend story that all Portland food truck owners dream about, Pok Pok was the first restaurant recommended to me by multiple people when I told them I was heading down to Portland, It’s known for its amazing Thai food and amazingly long wait times.

We arrived at 5 pm and were prepared for a long wait, but luckily we were seated right away! Our server was really friendly and helped guide us through the menu.

What we ate:

Papaya Pok Pok


  • Spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, and long beans
  • The vegetables were fresh and the salad was extremely spicy
  • The lime, fish sauce, and chillies made for a very potent sauce, but the flavours were very well thought out

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings


  • Whole wings (which is always nice) marinated in fish sauce, deep fried, and tossed caramelized fish sauce with garlic. Served spicy or regular (we got regular).
  • Tossing the wings into the carmelized fish sauce made them chewy instead of crispy
  • The fish sauce was not overpowering and provided an incredible umami flavour that was accented by the sweetness of the sugar

Kaeng Hang Leh


  • Pork belly and shoulder curry with ginger, plam sugar, tumeric, tamarind, burmese curry powder, and pickled garlic
  • The fat of the pork belly rendered down into the curry to make a very good accompaniment for rice
  • Was disappointed at the small amount of meat in this – 1 piece of pork belly, and 3 pieces of pork shoulder

Sticky Rice and Coconut Rice


  • The sticky rice was suggested to us by our server to go with the Papaya Salad
  • And the coconut rice for the curry
  • Coconut rice was pretty simple and the sticky rice was served in an interesting style (grass box, in a bag)
  • Even when I was in Thailand I didn’t like sticky rice like this, so it still wasn’t my favourite

Final Thoughts 

Pok Pok is definitely a must visit in Portland. Go early to avoid line ups, enjoy your service and a cocktail (I wish I were 21 for this trip), and get the wings.

Pok Pok on Urbanspoon

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