Pok Pok


Yes, the wait can be 90 minutes. Yes, you may get seated next to a group of ebullient out-of-towners who won't stop texting their friends in Scranton or Sacramento. Yes, the staff, in their eternal quest to turn over tables, can at times seem testy or indifferent.

So what?

This is the price you pay to feast at Pok Pok's flagship restaurant. After a decade, Andy Ricker's experiment with northern Thai cooking continues to evolve and entice. Gooey and savory, Ike's Vietnamese fish sauce wings ($15) are a Portland comfort food that few locals can go without.

Ditto when it comes to the soothing papaya Pok Pok ($9) or Da Chom's laap meuang, a minced pork salad infused with Thai aromatics, herbs and spices ($17).

A challenge to newcomers and seasoned pros alike: Go beyond your comfort zone.

Sure, Pok Pok's menu reads like the footnotes from a David Foster Wallace novel, but a careful study may end with you indulging in unknown delights. Among them: khao soi, a coconut milk-based curry noodle soup that's transcendent and great to share ($15.50), or kaeng hung leh, an exotic Burmese stew with chunks of mouth-watering pork belly and shoulder ($15.50).

Pro tip: For a quick fix while you wait, head across the street to Whiskey Soda Lounge, Pok Pok's sister bar. It serves Ike's wings and other tasty Thai bites, as well as a full cocktail menu, including the restaurant's popular tamarind whiskey sour ($10). The staff will tell you when your table at the restaurant is ready.

GO: 3226 SE Division St., 232-1387, pokpokpdx.com. 11:30 am-10 pm daily. $$-$$$.