I finally made it to Pok Pok, the restaurant in Brooklyn that created the buzz few years ago with their fish sauce wings. It was on my list, and, when I discovered that it was on Opentable, I could not resist booking a table for a Saturday, for lunch. The restaurant is definitely off the beaten path and you really need to be motivated to go there. But you know what? It was worth the trip and, although a bit pricey, the food was fantastic.
We arrived right on time, at twelve o'clock and I was a bit surprised to see the bar and dining room quasi empty. Well, it did not take too long for people to arrive and, when we left, it was packed, to the point that the two tables next to us hosted six people instead of the four who would normally seat, making the whole experience probably very uncomfortable, but, seeing their faces delighted by the food, they did not seem to care.
At first, they put on the table some peanuts with various spices, as well as some water that had a weird taste...No wonder: it contained pandanus leaf, like thru do in Northern Thailand, giving to the water a sort of toasted rice flavor.
Although I was ready to drink that water, I decided to order a Thai iced tea that was very good.
We ordered couple of dishes from their menu that offers dishes from Southeast Asia, mainly Thailand and Vietnam. First was Cha Ca "La Vong" or Vietnamese catfish marinated in tumeric, fried in tumeric oil with scallions and dill, served on cold rice vermicelli with peanuts, mint, cilantro and mam nem, a Vietnamese anchovy fermented dipping sauce.
This was succulent: first of all, the fish was perfectly cooked and so moist. Then, the dish was very light and refreshing, all the ingredients working perfectly together.
The second dish was Khao Soi Jay, a vegetarian curry (you can choose the version with chicken), that is a northern Thai mild curry soup prepared with their secret curry paste and coconut milk. It comes with house pickled mustard greens, shallots, crispy yellow noodles and roasted chili paste. This was another delicious dish that had a nice kick at the end, and was very comforting.
Then was the long awaited Vietnamese fish sauce wings. When they arrived at the table, I could definitely smell the fish sauce that gave a very dark color to the wings and made them very sticky. The first bite was surprising: crispy, with a nice combination of fish and chicken flavors. It was very addictive and I literally inhaled the dish. Looking around the room, this was for sure the most ordered dish.
Last was dessert. We went for the Pok Pok affogato that is a take on Vietnamese breakfast of coffee and fried donuts, where an espresso shot is poured over condensed milk ice cream and eaten with delicious Chinese donuts that were crispy and airy. A great dessert.
Our meal at Pok Pok was memorable. Chef Andy Ricker succeeded in creating a unique place with dishes that will satisfy any palate curious to discover some authentic Southeast Asian dishes. I would certainly go back and get those wings again! But not only...
Enjoy (I did)!
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