Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

POK POK, 127 Columbia Street (between Kane and Degraw Street), Columbia Waterfront, Brooklyn

When we visited the original Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon a few years back, we ordered terribly. While we liked the food, we chose all the heavier meat dishes. We must have been ravenous because there was no lightness in our choices of steak salad, followed by pork ribs, followed by chicken wings, followed by stewed duck leg. A meat coma was induced and we left thinking of Pok Pok as an Asian steakhouse. We messed up!

Chef Andy Ricker opened an almost identical New York branch last year and the foodie masses have descended. I had heard about game-changing hipster Asian food (yes, that’s a cuisine now) worth the hour long waits. It was time for us to fix the damage.

This meal (after waiting in a manageable but annoying line at 5:30) was a total winner. We take some credit for ordering more diversely, but I have to give the chefs (and wait staff) credit for one perfect dish after another.

Many of the full-flavored plates could have been the Dish of the Week. We re-visited the tender and sweet fish-sauce glazed chicken wings and were mighty impressed by a smoky, charred eggplant salad with tons of chili, lime, and dried shrimp.

Cha Ca "La Vong" at POK POK

But the one Vietnamese influenced dish on the menu of mostly Thai-inspired fare was the one that put all those meat-heavy memories to shame. The complex and light flavors made this flavorful dish a winner. Cha Ca “La Vong” is a bowl of rice vermicelli noodles topped with peanuts, cilantro, and lime. Beautiful nuggets of browned and buttery catfish had sour and spicy notes, while fresh dill, mint, and scallions lightened it up. The dill was an unusual flavor (for me) in Asian cuisine. I appreciated the bright and herbal flavors.

In my mind, the New York Pok Pok is even better than the Portland edition. But I’m sure that has more to do with me and my skills as an a la carte diner than it does with the work being done in the kitchen. Either way, this food is good!!

POK POK NY
127 Columbia Street (between Kane Street and Degraw Street),
Columbia Waterfront, Brooklyn
(718) 923-9322
pokpokny.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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