Restaurant Review: Pok Pok Noi – Portland, OR

I love me some Pok Pok, but between heading all the way over to SE and waiting an hour to get in, it’s not always worth the trouble. Sure, Whiskey Soda Lounge is amazing and a fabulous place to drink in delicious flavors while waiting for your table, but usually the tasty Som drinks just make me hungrier and more impatient.

The solution: Pok Pok Noi.

Not only is this restaurant located just a few blocks from my apartment, but it’s also quicker and easier than the original Pok Pok. Billed as “a counter service and take away restaurant,” Pok Pok Noi offers a much more limited menu than the original restaurant, but still includes Pok Pok favorites like chicken wings, papaya salad and, my favorites, the drinkable vinegars. There are some stools for quick eating and drinking inside, but if you can snag one of the few tables out there, the back patio is the place to be.

Pumpkin enjoying the back patio

I start every meal at Pok Pok Noi with a Som, or drinkable vinegar, and a bag of shrimp chips. Not only are the shrimp chips tasty, but they also snap, crackle and pop on your tongue, giving you minutes, if not hours, of entertainment and a whole roll of ridiculous pictures to share on the interwebs. Just be sure to save a few in case your dish is super spicy  – they help soothe your tongue.


Usually just about the time the novelty of popping chips wears off, the friendly waiters bring my dishes, which, in my experiences, is about half the time it takes them to bring you dishes at the original Pok Pok.

Our spicy smelling spread

Digging in to the feast, Pumpkin and I both started with the Khao Man Som Tom, or Carlton Farms shredded pork, fried shallots and cilantro served over coconut rice with Papaya Pok Pok (green papaya salad) and a slice of cabbage on the side.

Khao Man Som Tom

The shredded pork and shallots were both caramelized to perfection, enabling them to be crispy and melt in your mouth at the same time. The subtle yet delightful coconut flavor of the rice complimented the sweet pork and helped cut the burn of the delicious, yet spicy, papaya salad sprinkled with dried shrimp, peanuts and cilantro.

On this trip, we decided to skip the usual delicious famous Ike’s chicken wings and instead went for the Kai Yaang, roasted game hen stuffed with lemongrass, cilantro garlic and pepper and served with sweet and sour and tamarind dipping sauces.

Kai Yaang

As we easily pulled the chicken right off of the bone and dipped it into both flavorful sauces, we both commented on how glad we were that we gave this dish a try. While the hen doesn’t have the high-impact flavor or the chicken wings, its subtle spice and sweet sauce is a nice departure from the other often overpowering dishes Pok Pok offers.

Moving on to steak, we tried the Neua Nam Tok, spicy flank steak salad with chili, lime, garlic, cilantro, lemongrass, mint and toasted rice powder.

Neua Nam Tok

As our server recommended, we served this salad over their sticky rice, which complimented the texture of the meat and helped soothe the spice in the dish. Believe the menu when it warns that this dish is very spicy. I highly suggest having something like the game hen above or even a Som drinking vinegar to help cut the spice. When your tongue isn’t on fire, however, the flavors in this dish blend well together and the texture is superb.

To soothe my burning tongue and quench my sweet tooth, I finished my meal with some mango sticky rice covered with coconut cream and sesame seeds. I’m sure some places ruin this dish, but I’ve yet to meet a mango sticky rice I don’t like and Pok Pok Noi is no exception.

Mango Sticky Rice

On a subsequent visit to Pok Pok Noi, my friends and I tried a completely different spread, with Ike’s chicken wings with fish sauce, Muu Paa Kham Wan boar collar meat rubbed with hot spices, grilled over charcoal and served with chilled mustard greens to help cut the spice, green Papaya Pok Pok salad and Het Paa Nam Tak the vegetarian version of the Neua Nam Tak above served with mushrooms instead of steak.

Every single one of these dishes was absolutely superb. No really, every single one. The only complaint I would have is the spice. When visiting any Pok Pok restaurant, it’s important to get a few less spicy dishes to even out the spice, or you really won’t be able to fully enjoy the splendor and uniqueness in each of these dishes.

You also should have one of their fabulous cocktails or virgin mixed drinks, preferably with their homemade Soms, or drinking vinegars. They help cut the spice and are delicious. Try a gin and celery for something savory or a vodka and lychee or pomegranate for something sweet. Or, as we did the second time around, get one of their Manhattans served in awesome metal martini glasses that I definitely need to own. The best part about these glasses: can’t break them when you’re drunk! Or when you’re just a klutz like me and knock over your friends drinks all the time.

Metal martini glasses

Overall, Pok Pok Noi is exactly what you expect from the Pok Pok family: delightful deliciousness. While the prices are a bit more than your average Thai restaurant, the food at Pok Pok Noi is well worth every penny.

The details:

  • Location: 1469 NE Prescott St., Portland, OR
  • Gotta try: Ike’s Chicken Wings, Som drinkable vinegars, Khao Man Som Tom, pretty much everything
  • Price range: $$ – nicer date night
  • Rating:
    • Overall rating 5/5 stars:
    • Food: 5/5
    • Drink: 5/5
    • Atmosphere: 4/5
    • Staff Friendliness: 4/5
    • Go there again?: all the time

Pok Pok Noi on Urbanspoon

About Queerie Bradshaw

Lauren Marie Fleming loves to put both sides of her brain to use. A writer since childhood, she runs the critically-acclaimed QueerieBradshaw.com blog and writes for major news sources as an expert on the legal and social issues surrounding sex, sexuality, gender and gender identity. Lauren also started Frisky Feminist Press (FriskyFeminist.com), which features sexual education guides and classes from the top sex educators on the Internet. From ivy-league universities to major conferences, Lauren has spoken all over the country and is internationally recognized for her dynamic, educational workshops. Check out her workshop page for a complete list of workshops and upcoming speaking engagements. A law school graduate, she started Creativity Squared, LLC to help bloggers, writers and other creative types turn their ideas into practical, sustainable products or services. Lauren particularly loves helping people find and amplify their voice, dig deep to write their difficult truths, and make a profit by doing what they love. Lauren offers her consulting services through group classes and individual coaching. Lauren is currently shopping her memoir, Losing It: My Life as a Sex Blogger, based on her popular Curve magazine sex blog. She is also working on a diverse young adult series. Lauren is represented by Jane Dystel of DGLM.
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