I think Portland has a lot of Vietnamese and Thai people. I could be wrong, but that is just my initial assessment just based on the type of Asian eating establishments. There just seems to be a lot more good Vietnamese and Thai places. Ironically, the most popular Thai restaurant happens to be owned and operated by a white guy. What does a white guy know about Thai food? How authentic could this food be? People wait 1-2 hours just to be seated at Pok Pok Restaurant. Andy Ricker even opened up a bar across the street, The Whiskey Soda Lounge, to deal with the overflow. It offers many of the same dishes, including the famous chicken wings.
Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
Can you say “crack wings”? Holy Jesus! These wings are DELICIOUS! DELECTABLE! FANTASTIC! WONDERFUL! They really pack a punch of flavor with a strong salty sweet tang from a blend of fish sauce, sugar, lime, garlic, chillies. They were served hot and crispy from the fryer, with a golden crusty layer of caramelized sugar from the savory marinade. I actually found the recipe online so will one day attempt to make them. If you make just one trip to Portland and eat only one thing, I suggest you make it these wings! BEST WINGS EVER!
Khang Pong mae hong son style green papaya fritters with lemongrass, chillies, shallots, tumeric
We didn’t know what else to order so we let the waiter suggest these fritters. I coudln’t taste much aside from big balls of fried something. I don’t think I tasted anything distinctly “papaya” about them, but they were green papayas and battered and fried. They were perfectly crunchy and served with a pungent garlic fish sauce. I wouldn’t say they went well with the wings, since both were just so damn flavorful. Both dishes called for some sort of palate cleanser.
These dishes were a harbinger of the great food to come. After waiting an hour we finally got seated at Pok Pok. We ordered a whole slew of things which were delicious, but none so wonderful as those chicken wings. It was really dark so the pictures just did not turn out this time. So stay tuned for a future post about the most popular Thai restaurant in Portland when I get a chance to go back.