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From Siam To Pok Pok Portland.


Once you hear this, the clock starts ticking: “If you do nothing else, buy an airplane ticket to Portland, Oregon, and head straight to Pok Pok on SE 32nd and Division.”

If you drive in from the Southwest suburbs it goes like this: Take I-5 until it slows to a stop, then aim for the Taylor’s Ferry exit and switch to Barbur Blvd.

One you see the back-up for the Ross Island Bridge, swing out to the open lane and head for the Hawthorne Bridge. Cross the river and take a right on SE 11th. Since Division roadwork blocks traffic, drive through to Powell and turn left.

Cut back toward Division too early and you’ll run into the paving crew. The bonus of this is cruising the neighborhood full of old Portland houses.

If your group is bigger than five, call in and reserve a table.

If you’re running late, call Pok Pok and tell them.


What do you expect to find in a restaurant so good it branched out to NYC?

A swarm of uniformed servers and five forks on one side of your plate, or one person taking charge of the whole room?

The workers might look like anyone else at the bus stop, but they’ve got Pok Pok down to a science. No mistakes, no hassle, no pomp and circumstance, all lead to a table fit for a king. Or queen, since it was my wife’s birthday.

She’d just finished a Thai cooking class and stood ready for the best.


If your experience with Thai food is limited to cuisine so hot that the only sensation is crisp or soft, make Pok Pok your next stop.

Instead of leaping for a fire extinguisher between bites, mopping sweat off your brow, and dreading what’s next, you’ll find a meal made for more than flame on and flame off.

This taste of Thailand won’t keep Portland weird with temperatures found close to the sun, but it will raise the bar for dinner the rest of the year.


To fill up your table for six like the images above, start with fish sauce wings and corn. Both shed new light on traditional fare.

The line up from the left in the image above: Muu Sateh, Wing Bean salad, Yam Makheua Yao (eggplant), Kai Yaang (whole bird), and out of picture Kung Op Wun Sen.

Add well poured beers from the tasty taps, white sangria, and you’ll be the King of Portland.

Make Mine Pok Pok Or Nothing At All.  via

Make Mine Pok Pok Or Nothing At All.

By now you’re thinking, “I need some of that Pok Pok, but I live too far away,” wherever that might be.

Before you cave and warm up some leftovers, there is hope.

Anthony Bourdain reviewed owner/cook Andy Ricker on

“This book, as far as I’m concerned, is an argument ender. When Andy says ‘make som tam lao like this,’ it’s like Jacques Pépin telling you how to make an omelette. The matter is settled. Previously, I would never have even attempted to prepare most of these dishes in my home. I had always felt that Thai food was best left to the experts. But this book has given me hope and confidence.”

Hope and confidence are right around the corner in Portland.




About David Gillaspie
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