The sheer number of Portland Thai restaurants is matched only by their general mediocrity. Pok Pok is an exception. Its menu and aesthetic sit a tier above your average travel poster-adorned pad Thai purveyor—as does its price point. But dip charcoal-grilled boar collar in fiery chile-lime-garlic sauce and it becomes clear Pok Pok is worth every cent. Dishes like khao soi kai curry noodle soup and grilled giant prawns—suck the delicious juice from their still-attached heads!—are ideal for sharing, but you might want an order of the addictive, salty-sweet chicken wings, caramelized with fish sauce, all to yourself. For Pok Pok regulars, it’s tempting to order and reorder favorite standards, but don’t miss specials like a recent whole tilapia, fried to perfection with skin crackling around flaky flesh, piled with cilantro, lime, bird chiles and cashews. Wash it down with a sweating pint glass of the best gin-and-tonic in town.
Order this: Boar collar—evidently the collar is the best part of the boar.
Best deal: Take the Pok Pok Special to go—half a lemongrass-rubbed game hen, papaya salad and rice ($11).
I’ll pass: Papaya salad. It’s great, but it’s not as unusual as most of the menu.