Friday, May 1, 2015

Pok Pok

If you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain, then no doubt you've heard of Andy Ricker and his Pok Pok restaurants and book, which are introducing authentic Thai cuisine to the US.

When we heard that there was a Pok Pok in Los Angeles, we were there in a New York minute! (See what I did there?)

Pok Pok is located in a food court building in Chinatown. It's a bit hard to find, as you can't see it from the road. However, the restaurant is moving soon to a bigger location, so this problem may be fixed. 

It is a tiny, closet-sized space, with only a few stools for patrons. However, the mall outside has plenty of picnic tables for eating, and I believe that a lot of their business is take-out. 

The menu is small, with a lot of crossover ingredients. To me, this is a good sign. Generally, a menu with few ingredients, means fresher food, more attentive cooks, and overall tastier cuisine. 

We ordered two favorites: Kuaytiaw Khua Kai and Phat Thai (Pad Thai). The Kuaytiaw Khua Kai was unlike anything I've ever tasted. The noodles were fresh and lightly pan fried, with tiny pieces of seasoned chicken, served on a bed of greens. The flavor was so good, that it didn't really need any of the offered condiments. 

Speaking of condiments, unlike other cuisines, Thai is very relaxed about the addition of condiments. The way they look at it, you like it how you like it. To that end, the menu and condiment station details how to season things to your taste -- a little fish sauce to make things salty, sugar for a sweet flavor, and chili powder to spice things up. I really appreciate this flexible attitude towards cooking and personal taste.  

The other dish we shared was the pad Thai, the "spaghetti and meatballs" of Thai cuisine. I've had mostly disappointing versions of this in the past, leading me to think that I just didn't care for it. I was so wrong. The Pok Pok version is so different. Lightly dressed and seasoned, it was filling, yet not heavy with a gloppy sauce like most versions. The noodles were fresh, and the bean sprouts were crunchy. The best part was the fresh crushed peanuts to be mixed in. The lightly fried tofu pulled the dish together beautifully.

We did not sample any of their signature Thai beverages, but many patrons were coming in just for a drink, so that's an option for next time, as are the shrimp chips, which I regret passing up. 

I'm anxious to see whether the menu will be expanded when they move into their new space, and will definitely visit again!

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May 01, 2015 / by / 0 Comments

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