I have cooked from Andy Ricker's cookbook "Pok Pok" with slavish dedication to the ingredients and instructions. It was particularly rewarding to visit his Brooklyn location and realize that there is a method to his slightly maddening recipe writing. From the tamarind whiskey sour to the green papaya salad and khao soi, I felt like I was eating food from home.
We started the evening off at Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street from Pok Pok, hoping to enjoy a happy hour special. We had a platter of Ike's Chicken Wings (spicy) and the house roasted peanuts. I knew the wings would be delicious having made them previously, but those peanuts were a show stopper! Red skinned peanuts tossed with chile, kaffir lime leaf, garlic and salt, simple, addictive--perfect bar snack.
We were seated immediately upon arrival at Pok Pok (Monday evening, prior to 6 p.m.) and the waitress suggested we order 4-6 dishes for the 3 of us to share. To be fair, she had no prior knowledge of the peanuts and chicken wings we had eaten only minutes earlier. Here's what we ordered, with all but the papaya salad skewing Northern Thai:
Green papaya salad with sticky rice: just like the cookbook
Pork Laap: this was the hardest thing to stop eating, my favorite dish of the night
Khao soi: Sophie's old stand-by
Pork belly/shoulder curry: super-rich even without the coconut milk you expect in a curry
They serve water infused with pandanus leaf--I thought it was jasmine rice water at the time, and now I will try the same with our next meal at home. Despite our record-breaking mileage for the day (13.5 miles!) and the deliciousness of the meal, we were unable to finish. We had them wrap up the leftovers, strategizing how to refrigerate them once we returned to the hotel. On the subway back to Manhattan, listening to a young man's impassioned plea for "any money you could spare, or better yet, any food you have you don't want," we solved the dilemma, handing him our bag of still warm leftovers.