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New York: Thai Chilies at Pok Pok NY, New Leopard Choos and a Perfex Salt Grinder

There comes a time when a trip to NYC is in order. A few necessities I couldn't find here: Two English novels in a vintage slipcover, a better salt grinder and an alluring butterfly. For supper at Pok Pok, read on...

There comes a time when a trip to NYC is in order. A few necessities I couldn’t find here: Two English novels in a vintage slipcover, a better salt grinder and an alluring butterfly. For supper at Pok Pok, read on…

A few days in New York, just enough time to uncover some treasures….

A long-sought Perfex salt grinder for pulverizing the chunky Italian sea salt we favor. For B, a vintage Borzoi edition of Angela Thirkell’s early novels, High Rising and Wild Strawberries. Pour moi, an iridescent green and black butterfly under glass, markings like eyelashes on velvety wings.

Let’s not discuss the leopard print kitten heels with shiny black patent tips that arrived yesterday.

Top of the list: supper at Pok Pok NY, the newish Brooklyn outpost of Andy Ricker’s acclaimed Portland, Oregon eatery. “Authentic,” mostly Northern Thai food, zingy with chilies and bright aromatic herbs. Long lines to get in, but not last Monday…

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Authentic Thai heat and humidity too, on the back terrace. Thai pop music, tall grasses, tables draped in bright blue chrysanthemum-embellished plastic, wailing babies. Surely the Chao Phraya is lapping at the wall.

Here’s what I ate:

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Yam Samun Phrai: A refreshing northern Thai herb salad. Crunchy strands of carrot, parsnip, white turmeric. Aromatic herbs—licorice-tasting basil, Kaffir lime leaf, tender sliced lemongrass, plus sawtooth or culantro and pungent betel leaf—set up a dance of flavors. (Also, the “burning brakes” taste of curry leaf, though I’m told there’s none in the salad.) Topped with fried shallots, tossed with cashews and sesame seeds, bathed in a light coconut milk dressing spiked with thin-sliced green Thai chilies.

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Yam Makheua Yao: Velvety eggplant, grilled over a smoky charcoal fire, tossed in a zingy hot and sweet dressing of chopped green chilies, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar. Strewn with crispy garlic, shallots, fresh cilantro. Mysterious soft yellow and white bits turned out to be pieces of boiled egg. Could eat this easy dish every single day.

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Whole Fried Porgy, with an insouciant flip to its tail: Topped with golden brown fried garlic, sprigs of cilantro. White meat extracted with difficulty from authentic, hairlike bones. Probably a little overcooked but delicious dipped in tangy sauce of lime, fish sauce, garlic and green chilies. (Last night I made a made a similar sauce at home, dipped thin slices of grilled pork tenderloin into it, so good.)

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Pok Pok Affogato: Dense almost chewy condensed milk ice cream, “drowned” in a shot of dark Vietnamese coffee. Loved the milk’s distinctive, slightly gamy flavor, but fried Chinese “donut,” actually two fried sticks of vaguely sweet dough, is over the top.

And here’s what I drank: a lot of limeade, chased by Beer Lao.

Oh, OK. Are you curious about the new leopard Choos? Here they are:

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P.S. I’m keeping them….

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