I’m a big fan of Thai food. Los Angeles has no shortage of great Thai food. So I was surprised to hear that Andy Ricker, chef/owner of the ever popular Pok Pok in Portland and 1 Michelin star Pok Pok NYC, opened an outpost in LA. It seems like the opening has not been without its hurdles and hiccups. Still though, the Yelp reviews have picked up so maybe Angelenos are seeing the deliciousness in Pok Pok.
I’ve been to Pok Pok in Portland a good amount of times, but the complementary snack in the form of these lemongrass/kaffir lime leaf peanuts seems to be a new. The Thai scents were pretty subtle but free is free. I applaud the effort.
Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
No meal is complete at Pok Pok without a taste of these finger-lickin’ delicious wings. They never fail to disappoint. Though, I suppose I am a tad less enamored by these since I have been able to recreate these at home pretty successfully. It’s hard to go wrong with the savory sweet funk here. Yums!
Laap Thawt Isaan deep-fried isaan style spicy pork laap, lime leaf, khao khua, chilies, lime juice, herbs
Our waiter likened this dish to a Thai “charcuterie” plate, which was an accurate analogy. I ate the sausage like the cured meat, wrapped in a lightly blanched cabbage leaf akin to a crispy toast or baguette slice. Instead of whole grain mustard, there was the naam phrik, which added spice, funk, and salt. The squash, green bean knots, and pork rinds provided great contrasting texture. This dish is by far not for the masses in my opinion but I quite enjoyed it.
Kaeng Hang Leh northern thai sweet pork belly, pork shoulder curry, ginger, palm sugar, turmeric, tamarind, burmese curry powder, pickled garlic
I always enjoy the warm comforting flavors of this stewed pork curry. It’s reminiscent of the Vietnamese thit kho, a sweet caramelized fish sauce stewed pork dish. This one obviously has more punch, but I loved to dunk hunks of sticky rice in here to sop up all that delicious sauce.
Khao Soi Chiang Mai northern thai curry noodle soup, house pressed fresh coconut milk, house pickled mustard greens, shallots, crispy yellow noodles, roasted chili paste
I first had khao soi at the Pok Pok in Portland and it was spectacular. The version here was more mild. I don’t want to say it tasted “watered down” but there was more coconut than curry flavor, so I was missing out on some extra punch. Perhaps I am just used to the version I make using the recipe from the Pok Pok Cookbook. I usually omit the extra coconut milk called for in the recipe.
The condiments are a must, especially the mustard greens and lime, which add delicious contrast.
Papaya Pok Pok green papaya salad, tomatoes, long beans, thai chile, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, dried shrimp, peanuts
The requisite papaya salad rounded out our meal. We appreciated the balance and crunch.
Hobag and her roomie enjoyed the food here. I am glad Pok Pok has come to LA, but I am not surprised it hasn’t been an immediate smash hit as it has in Portland and NYC. There’s just a lot of great Thai food in LA that comes at a cheaper price tag. Granted Northern Thai food, which Pok Pok specializes in, is harder to come by, people just can’t see the value here. I hope Pok Pok can pull through and continue to share this less explored side of Thai cuisine.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here