[THAI ROYALTY] Less than 10 years ago, Andy Ricker was a guy in a shack on sleepy Division Street slinging transcendent Thai-style roasted chicken and green papaya salad. Today, he oversees a bi-coastal domain boasting seven restaurants, a line of drinking vinegars, a book and a well-earned reputation as an international expert on Thai food and cooking. But the food at the original location still hasn't suffered. Sure, the long lines can be irritating and some servers a bit brusque—but oh, the joys of Pok Pok's northern-Thai-inspired menu. The darkly caramelized Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce chicken wings (hot or not, $14.50) are on every novice's must-try list, but the breadth of choice begs deeper delving. Among other favorites, consider neua naam tok (spicy flank steak salad, $14); rich and elegant kung op wan sen ($14.50), a savory hot pot of prawns, pork belly and bean thread noodles enhanced with ginger, black pepper and a cast of other supporting elements; or muu paa kham waan ($14.50), simply grilled boar collar meat bearing a complex spice rub and accompanied by a set-your-ass-on-fire chili/lime/garlic sauce. Start the meal with an order of the toasted chili and lime leaf-enhanced roasted peanuts ($6), and finish with khao niew ($8.50) mango sticky rice, served only in season when the mangos are perfectly sweet-tart. MICHAEL C. ZUSMAN.
If you're a local, avoid the summer tourist hordes and go on a winter weekday.