Asian foodies are so demanding. When we first sat down at Pok Pok NY, our Japanese friend exclaimed, “Thank GOD there is no pad thai on the menu!” She said this because most New York Thai restaurants have identified themselves with the overused noodle dish which has become a staple as far as Thai cuisine is concerned – except that a good pad thai is absolutely rare in these parts. They normally come out dry, bland, and (sigh) Americanized.
So we welcomed the addition of Pok Pok NY into the neighborhood as authentic Asian restaurants were few and far between, plus we’ve grown tired of trying them only to be disappointed. Pok Pok was highly acclaimed, in fact we bumped into fellow food-obsessed friends who got in line with us that Sunday afternoon. Of course our group had to ruin that impression. Uggh, so demanding!
We started with the papaya salad which was too hot that it was inedible. Now I get that this was supposed to be very spicy, but I love spice and I was actually able to eat my portion begrudgingly, but the chilis overtook the whole dish and killed all the other flavors. The consensus among the spice-loving Asians at my table: fail. A simple tasting before serving would have avoided this mishap. It would be very tasty if they didn’t underestimate the heat of the chilis.
Now the fish sauce fried wings was the big winner here, and is something I would crave and come back for. A perfect combination of sweet, heat, salt and sticky crunch, this dish would be a good drinking dish with their great cocktails (pictured below).
This was a sad pre-cooked rendition of Chinese restaurant ribs, colored red and infused with five spice powder. Don’t bother with this.
The eggplant salad was excellent, the eggplants were grilled well and took in the surrounding flavors of the herbs and lime.
Mmmm…kangkong (hollow vegetable). Feels like home to me!
The pork salad was not only unremarkable, but ours came with a present: a 2-inch long sharp plastic sliver that could have easily injured someone if they ate too hastily. I understand mistakes happen in the kitchen, and I am forgiving that way. We brought it to the attention of the server who apologized and took the dish out of the bill. I expected a bigger apology and an even grander compensation, but I guess Pok Pok doesn’t care about that. So…DANGER DANGER DANGER: Health hazard here!
This was large and in charge. That’s about it. Nothing to see here, moving on.
Cocktails, in fairness, were amazing. I have to give them that.
Cheesy checkered plastic tablecloths and colorful lanterns surrounded by bamboo and straw definitely made you feel like you were in Thailand.
My assessment of Pok Pok NY is that it is well-intentioned and is as authentic as Thai cooking in New York can get. Don’t get me wrong, it is good food. But my view is skewed because I am Southeast Asian and a relatively decent cook, so I know my way around spice and fish sauce and already cook all these dishes at home. Their selections, except for the wings and the cocktails, would not be something I would line up for at added cost. Also, the killer plastic shard in my dish kinda sealed the deal for me, which is unfortunate. Maybe it’s part of the ambience?
Oh – Pok Pok in Tagalog means prostitute. Just some trivia for you.
Pok Pok NY
127 Columbia Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231