Portland: Pok Pok

Tags: Must Try Thai

Who here has eaten at Pok Pok?? If you’ve ever been to Portland or asked for food suggestions during a trip to PDX, hands down you’ve been pointed in this direction. In fact, during my last trip there during the Female Foodie Retreat, Delores Custer herself (an absolute legend when it comes to the food styling industry) said that she loves nothing more than Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings.

She recommends for good reason- picture half a dozen fresh whole natural chicken wings marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce and garlic and served with pickled vegetables. I would literally go to Pok Pok for these wings alone.

But there’s certainly more reason to go than just for the wings. So much, in fact, that line wait times can average up to 2-3 hours each weekend. Which reminds me of the first time I ate at Pok Pok about 3 years ago. I went to Portland with my mum and sis and we of course HAD to enjoy a meal of the famous Southeast Asian food from the most popular spot in town.

We pulled up to the original location (and the same where we took photos for this post), at Pok Pok PDX, right on Division Street in the Southeast corner of town. Our kind hostess quoted a three hour wait time. INSANITY! But we still waited. This food must have been pretty hyped for us to be willing to wait for so long. Although the wait was long, they did have a text messaging system (still currently used) for customers waiting so they can take a walk or wander elsewhere while other diners enjoy some of the best Thai food they’ve had in their life.

Both my first and second experiences at Pok Pok paralleled each other in that the food was absolutely, nearly impossibly delicious. The ingredients were fresh and prepared thoughtfully, the presentation was fun and authentic, but more than anything the FLAVORS were 100% the highlight- just how all good Thai food should be .

But before I go into what to order and all the foodie deets, I’ll let you in on a little secret. You ready?? Go with a group of 6 or more! They take reservations online and it’s the easiest thing in the world. They’ll also hold your table for up to TWO HOURS from the time your reservation begins. Reserved and decided not to show? They’ll charge you $50 (and require a cc number upfront to hold your spot). But why in tarnation would you miss your chance at those wings?

Okay so the food. The two most popular dishes 1) Ike’s Fish Wings- we discussed these at the beginning of this post. 2) Pok Pok Special- this is my personal favorite dish to order at Pok Pok. It’s half a roasted natural chicken with a small green papaya salad (papaya pok pok), sticky rice and dipping sauces. TRUST me when I tell you that the flavors and composition are enough to make your endorphins sky rocket.

Too much chicken?? Try their Northern Thai mild curry noodle soup made with our secret curry paste recipe and house-pressed fresh coconut milk. Served with house pickled mustard greens, shallots, crispy yellow noodles and roasted chili paste. It’s another favorite Thai dish of mine and one of the best I’ve ever had (other is from Lotus of Siam in Vegas- anyone been??).

Moral of the story: all Asian food lovers NEED (at least at one point in their life) to experience a meal at Pok Pok. Make reservations (or if your group isn’t big enough, go during lunch hour or to their other location- Pok Pok Noi), order family style, and arrive hungry. Looking forward to my next trip to PDX just for the fact that I can drool over some of Ike’s Wings!

Did you like this post? Want more Portland food suggestions? Check out our post on Favorite Portland Restaurants for more delicious details!

Pok Pok PDX (3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR // 503.232.1387)

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