Pok Pok Phat Thai – A Thai Noodle Specialist, But It’s All About The Crepe
**For full post and pics**: https://www.lauhound.com/2012/12/pok-...
Pok Pok Phat Thai is one of Andy Ricker’s restaurants. I wrote about the predecessor when it was called Pok Pok Wings and specialized in chicken wings, which you can see here (https://www.lauhound.com/2012/01/pok-...). However, it changed this year and now focuses on pad thai because apparently the kitchen was too small and was making it difficult to cook the wings properly (the kitchen is tiny). I’m not going to give too many details about the restaurant because I already did in the original review.
Here’s what we got:
Phat Thai Ruam (Pad Thai with Shrimp and Pork):
This is supposed to be the authentic version of pad thai. Its rice noodles cooked in rendered pork fat with tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar, peanuts, dried tofu, dried shrimp, preserved radish, egg, garlic chives, bean sprouts and chili powder. You can choose it plain, with shrimp, with ground pork or with both. I got the version with both shrimp and ground pork. It’s much drier and less sweet than the sloppy sauce-y Americanized version. The flavors are a bit subtle although it’s not bland by any means. The various condiments were all quite good and definitely make the dish better. Overall, while I’m no pad thai expert, I found the dish to be pretty tasty and a little extra fish sauce and chili powder definitely kicks it up a notch. 7.75/10
Kuaytiaw Khua Kai (Stir Fried Rice Noodles):
This is wide rice noodles stir fried in rendered pork fat with chicken, cuttlefish, egg and green onions. According to their website this is a Bangkok Chinatown specialty, which makes sense since kuaytiaw is actually a Chinese word for noodles in the Hokkien / Teochew dialect (粿條 guo tiao). Southeast Asia has a ton of Chinese influence (mainly Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese) and Thailand has a substantial Chinese population, which you can read about in this Wiki article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_Chi...). This is somewhat similar to char kway teow which is a common dish in Singapore and Malaysia. Anyhow, it tastes just like it sounds. I liked it a bit better than the phat thai as it had a bit of the smoky “wok hai” type of flavor that you get from cooking food in a very hot wok. Overall, I liked this dish and thought it was good. 8/10
Hoi Thawt (Mussel Broken Crepe):
This is a starch-y broken crepe with steamed mussels, eggs, garlic chives and bean sprouts served with Shark Sri Racha sauce. I’m almost certain that this dish was taken from Teochew Chinese as it tastes very similar to the oyster omelette / crepe you find in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and certain parts of southern China. Although I’d say it’s more similar to the Taiwanese version. Anyhow, it’s sort of starchy, but with lots of crispy bits, egg and mussel and topped with the tangy slightly spicy sauce. I thought this was shockingly good; it actually tastes very similar to what you get in Asia. In fact, this is the only time I’ve had this dish done well in the US. I’ve even gone back three times in total to make sure the first time wasn’t a fluke. This is the dish that is worth coming here for. 8.75/10
Overall, I enjoyed this place a lot and it’s definitely a good spot to check out if you’re in the neighborhood.
Thanks for the review Lau. Based on what you wrote I will try the mussels, as I haven't tried that yet. The pad thai i found edible and Ok, but I didn't think it was authentic at all. It's a do it yourself dish, where they have the fish sauce and chile to add after you bring the dish to your spot on the counter. In Thailand that's all cooked with it and the flavors far more intense.
I found all 3 dishes to be surprisingly good for Manhattan. I think the lard and pork fat really make a difference, and it's great to get pad thai with dried shrimp in these parts. My favorite of the 3 was the Stir Fried Rice Noodles. I wouldn't compare Thai restaurants in the LES with Thailand. I wouldn't even compare them to L.A. But this is a big step up. Another nice touch was the free pandan leaf flavored water, you can help yourself and it's quite refreshing.
I had the kuaytiaw khua thaleh, stir fried wide rice noodles w/ seafood. The flavors & textures made for an outstanding dish. Can't wait to try the other offerings. I had the crepe at their Brooklyn restaurant, also terrific. I haven't been to Thailand, but this Andy Ricker guy turns out some serious Isan cuisine.
Forgot to mention that I had the phat Thai ruam here the other day and thought it was really good. This is pretty much how it is done in Thailand, although many vendors there will just use oil and not rendered fat. I prefer the noodles done with a little bit more al dente than the guy prepared mine, but the components were all there. This is what phat Thai tastes like. Also, the diner's option to add fish sauce, dried chili, or sugar from the little containers is standard as well.
I disagree that the pad thai at pok pok phat thai is the way it tastes like all over Thailand. In the non tourist areas, pad thai or phat thai is spicy beyond your imagination. In tourist areas it is more like pokpok phat thai, not spicy and add your own nam pa and chills. Another misconception, spread by Zaab Elee and pok pok, is that pad thai is not something eaten in Issan or in Chiang Mai. which is also not true. It is eaten everywhere.
Pad thai is not made spicy beyond anyone's imagination. WTF are you talking about? The spiciness comes from adding dried chili toward the end of the stir frying. The cook will toss some in, serve it, and the diner is left with a condiment jar to make it as spicy as they individually want to. Same with fish sauce, sugar, and soy sauce. Adding condiments to noodle and fried rice dishes is a Thai national pastime....Have never heard Zaab Elee or Pok Pok weigh in on the regional availability of pad thai. Is this from an article somewhere?