Yep, that’s me – a Taste Maker.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to dine at Pok Pok Ny – the Portland transplanted restaurant in Brooklyn – with none other than Ted Allen, sponsored by Pepcid AC, Eater.com and Tanqueray. I don’t suffer from food-related heartburn (to clarify: I was diagnosed with stress-induced acid reflux 10 years ago, took medication, and have only experienced the same very very sporadically over the years since then), so I can’t say that part spoke to me.
But I like to eat, and eat I did: sai ua samun phrai, a sausage that was grilled and served with an assorted bunch of pickled stuff and some cracklins. I really enjoyed the sausage, though it was spicier than I anticipated – and was delicious with the sticky rice on the side as well.
Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings – everyone went nuts over this dish, and while it hit all the right notes of sticky, crispy, spicy, salty, I didn’t think it warranted the batshitcray people went over these. Don’t get me wrong – they are delicious – but I didn’t get as excited as other people. Maybe it’s just me – I didn’t think they were special, per se.
A very blurry photo of the dish I actually did think was more unique and absolutely delicious: kai yaang tua, a roasted poussin that was delectably moist, meaty, juicy and just delicious. The tamarind dipping sauce on the side was awesome, and just eating the meat off the bone – yum, I was really happy when another plate of this landed on our table.
A plate of water spinach appeared, and my burning tongue rejoiced; until I actually ate some and discovered that it was quite spicy as well! Haha. Still delicious; cooked perfectly and tender, I love water spinach and don’t eat it quite as much as I would like.
Another dish that everyone raved about: a whole fish, steamed with pickled plums and other assorted aromatics. While the fish was very good – cooked perfectly, tender, and fragrant – it reminded me of exactly the same fish my mom makes. It wasn’t special – though delicious, and expertly made. I guess if you aren’t used to eating this type of dish.
Dessert time came around and since I’d apprised our server of my coconut allergy early in the evening (which led to my not partaking of a salad that came first), though this was put in front of me, it was quickly whisked away from me before I could take a bite as it contained coconut. Kabocha with a coconut custard.
I appreciated the diligence in preventing me from ingesting an allergen.
I appreciated it even more when they brought this out for me – totally unexpected and unnecessary, since I was full and happy without needing any dessert. But the server came over and told me that unfortunately most of their desserts have coconut in them, so all they could bring me was a simple bowl of ice cream.
Condensed milk ice cream.
Most Asian kids will get the same dreamy-eyed look that crossed my face when I heard “condensed milk” – it holds a special place in my fatkid heart. Tia (who was sitting next to me) actually even verbalized this – jealous of my dessert, despite enjoying hers – but I shared because that’s a lot of ice cream and why not? (Her opinion on the meal can be found here.)
In any case, the ice cream was everything I wanted it to be and more: condensed milk – thick, sticky, sugary sweet, delicious – made into ice cream, cold, creamy, and just wonderful. Before I even took a bite, I appreciated that they put thought into making sure I had something sweet with which to end the meal. After I took a bite (and ate the whole bowl minus the very small bit Tia took), I was over the moon ecstatic that they’d done that.
Overall – a lovely meal with many delicious notes, nothing I didn’t like, and superb service – even at an event where sometimes things like that get lost in the shuffle. I thoroughly enjoyed the food, though I’m not sure I will return soon – it’s very far out of the way, I don’t have a car, and they don’t take reservations so I’d have to wait a very, very long time.
I’ll just go to the original in Portland… which probably also has ridiculous lines. Doh!
(BTW, did you know Pok Pok Ny is pronounced Pok Pok… nai/nye (like the Science Guy)? Interesting…)