Monday, March 24, 2008

Pok Pok for TableTalk

Ok... I am going to come out and say it, Pok Pok is now my favorite restaurant in Portland after this week’s Table for Twelve Dinner. Not only is the food fabulous, but the service is amazing. The staff at Pok Pok read our invite on Portland Food & Drink and knew that my sister and I disagreed about where we wanted to sit (M inside and cozy and J outside in a tent), so they called and wanted to figure something out about the seating that would make both sisters happy. (Little did they know that we are always happy and just poke fun at each other for pure amusement) Making both of us seem happy so not an easy task, but they did it. When I arrived early, Mark of Pok Pok greeted Michelle of Table Talk and said we have created a new space for your group. I followed him up their outside stairs (I didn't know they existed either) and low and behold they had created an outside/inside seating experience for us. They have a small patio up there and it is enclosed with a clear tarp thingy and it has its own overhead heating... It was perfect- cozy, intimate, candlelit, and the sun was just going down so the lighting was beautiful. Our guests gave the ambience 4.3 out 5 bottles of champagne on our survey... the only reason it wasn't a 5 is we were in control of the heat lamps and we were seated under the clear tarps, so we would go hot/cold often, but all guests said they loved sitting there.

All this excitement and we hadn't even eaten yet! First things first... after everyone was seated it was definitely time to take part of the amazing fresh cocktails that Pok Pok makes. Our diners ordered everything from from Fernao Pires wine to Blood Orange Negroni and Tamarind Whiskey Sours and everyone was raving about them and gave them 4.4 bottles of champagne on our survey.

It was almost 8 by the time we were settled enough to order our first course and we started with the Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings ($10) a plate of spicey and mild. I could write an entire book on how perfect these wings are- I am not even a "wing type girl," but the sauce on these wings is intoxicating. The wings fried to a perfect carmely crisp with the sweet yet spicy/tangy sauce- most of our guests gave the appetizer a perfect rating of 5 bottles of champagne to toast the taste of these amazing wings. By this time we were all so happy and I have to say that our waiter James was helping on creating this experience... HE WAS THE BEST WAITER WE HAVE HAD YET! Funny, witty, caring and a perfect server.

With the help of our great waiter, we went on to order the following (I typically don't list the food menu style, but are people going to know what Buu Phat Phong is if I don’t):

Buu Phat Phong Kari (Fresh whole 2 pound Oregon Dungeness crab stir-fried with Thai curry powder, fresh chilies, Chinese celery, onions, egg, and oyster sauces)- $22

Kai Yaang (Charcoal roasted natural game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro served with a spicy sweet and sour dipping sauce) $10

Whole fried Tilapia (our gracious waiter kept the last one in the restaurant for us)

Kuung Op Wun Sen (Wild caught gulf prawns baked in a clay pot over charcoal with pork belly, whiskey, soy, ginger, cilantro root, black pepper, Chinese celery and bean thread noodles) $14

Laap Khwai Neua (Spicy Northern Thai minced buffalo salad with naam phrik laap (crushed blend of spices brought back from Chiang Mai), crispy fried shallots and garlic, topped with herbs and cracklings) $10

Muu Sateh (Carlton Farms pork loin skewers marinated in coconut milk and turmeric, grilled over charcoal and served with peanut sauce, cucumber relish and grilled bread. Yes, bread really is the normal accompaniment) $8.5

Phat Makheua Yao kap Thua Fak Yao (Chinese eggplant and long beans stir-fried with fresh chilies, sweet basil, oyster sauce, garlic, fish sauce and soy sauce) $9

Sii Khrong Muu Yaang (Carlton Farms baby back ribs marinated in whisky, soy, honey, ginger and Thai spices- slow grilled over charcoal and served with 2 spicy dipping sauces) $10

I almost forgot the beautiful coconut, jasmine, and sticky rice.

The food moved around the table like a giant lazy susan and people were sharing and trying everything. The flavors are so intense and clear that it is like a mouth circus... all sorts of unusual things going on and it just works. My favorites were the buffalo steak salad and the clay pot prawns... I will let the rest of our diners comment on their entrees! The diners gave it 4 out of 5 bottles in our survey.

After the entrees and drinks everyone was glowing from the inside out and so we decided the night shouldn't end just yet- it was time for dessert. We had almost every dessert on the menu: Whiskeysoda Bourbon Float, Mango Rice, Coconut Ice Cream Sandwich, and Pok Pok Affogato (Condensed milk ice cream drowned in a shot of Vietnamese coffee, served with a Chinese fried donut). The desserts were unusual-not your typical chocolate pot de crème, crème Brule type, but they were good. I can say that I am definitely more of a French dessert type... napoleons, crème Brule, cheese, etc.., so I will let our diners who gave it 4.2 bottles of champers comment on how they liked the desserts.

How do I wrap up a meal like that...? It was perfection from the service to the food and company. There is something amazing about sharing a food experience like that with others... where you look around and feel lucky that there are witnesses to such a joyful, fabulous dining experience.

View pictures of our experience: Table for 12 Does Pok Pok

Pok Pok * 3226 SE Division * 503.232.1387 * Take-Out Shack: M-F 11:30a-10p, Sa 5p-10p, Whiskey Soda Lounge: M-F 11:30a-2:30p, M-Sa 5p-10p * Reservation Policy


  1. I have been craving those delicious wings all week! The red speckled pitcher said I could keep my amarena cherry.

  2. I can't stop thinking about them either... I wanted to pick some up for Easter dinner!

  3. Yes, I bet Ike's Fish Sauce wings would have been loads more popular than your strawberry blackberry basil balsamic salad, Sis! Maybe next year!

  4. Next time you go, you MUST try the fruit salad (if it's still on the menu). I never would have thought that I would rave about a fricken' fruit salad, but it was amazing.

    BTW, I enjoyed meeting you both at Square Deal. I will definitely be attending one of your Table For Twelve dinners in the future.


  5. Hi Justin,
    Great to hear from you! How was your salumi? Did you see our posting on the event? Michael Fabbro emailed us today about it!
    Now...if you'd read my sister's posting about Easter, you'd know how she feels about fruit salad...however, I will completely trust your judgment and the next time we go to Pok Pok (um, tomorrow), we will try the fruit salad.
    Hope to see you soon at a Table for Twelve event!!