Pok Pok (Portland)

What visit to Portland is complete without a meal at Pok Pok?  Although Los Angeles has more than a handful of well-known, authentic Thai restaurants, I had to try this one in Portland. At first, I was a bit skeptical about a non-Thai cooking Thai, but after tasting his food, Andy Ricker is legit.

Tamarind whisky sour and a limeaid.

We started off with some liquid refreshments to help us through the hot and humid weather.  Will got a lime-aid while I opted for a tamarind whisky sour.  The whisky sour hit the spot with a slight sweetness from the tamarind and a whole lot of tang.

Pok pok papaya salad

Next, we shared a vegetarian papaya salad.  While the papaya was crisp and fresh, there was a slight bitterness from the lime. It was also missing that characteristic funk I like with my papaya salad which usually comes in the form of fermented fish or small crab and fish sauce.  I would recommend getting this in its fishy glory instead of going for the vegetarian version.

Pok pok grilled eggplant.

I then had the grilled eggplant salad, which the waiter warned was quite spicy. This was perfect because I love a spicy but cold salad on a hot day.  The eggplant was charred perfectly and kept its smokey aroma.  The pungent and spicy dressing cut down on the rich, yellow, egg yolk from the hard boiled egg. The flesh of the eggplant was a wonderful softness that paired well with the crisp slices of raw onion.

Pok pok curry noodles

Will had the vegetarian curry noodle soup, which had a great flavor.  Slightly spiced from the curry paste, and a mellow sweetness from the coconut milk made up for the lack of meat taste in the broth.  He was tempted to come back another day and order this again. It’s such a simple and wholesome dish, I’m sad that no where in LA has it.

Pok Pok
3226 Southeast Division Street
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 232-1387

Boke Bowl (Portland)

Some may think that a hot bowl of noodle soup is not a great idea when it hits 95F in Portland, but I scoff in the face of those people. The best time for a bowl of hot noodles is every time. Other than at Shojin, there’s not really a good place in LA for vegetarian ramen. Hell, there may not even be a good place for pescetarian ramen in LA since we all know the best broths are made from melted pork. That’s why I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try some different broths at Boke Bowl when I got to Portland.

Vegetarian ramen from Boke Bowl

Will got the vegetarian ramen whose broth was made flavorful by caramelized fennel. It gave a deep sweetness to the broth. I really liked the pieces of eggplant in it and the grilled compressed rice-cake was an interesting addition. No, it wasn’t a minimalist bowl of ramen, but one of the better vegan ramens I’ve had so far.

Seafood miso ramen from Boke Bowl. Put an egg on it.

I got the seafood miso dashi ramen with a poached egg added in. The miso dashi was okay, but not great and a little salty even for ramen broth. The oil-poached shrimp had a strange consistency that made me think of pre-chewed shrimp. The egg, while poached perfectly, was cold, which was a strange contrast while it sat in my warm soup. What stood out in this bowl were the noodles, which had a nice wheat-y taste and a rustic consistency. The bamboo slices were fibrous and not as flavorful as I wanted them to be. I don’t think the addition of Thai basil on top really worked for me.

Pickle plate from Boke Bowl

As an appetizer, we ordered the plate of house-made pickles, which came with a bowl of rice and a package of dried seaweed. Overall, the pickles were great.  Some of the stranger ones like cherries and mushroom tasted surprisingly good.  I didn’t care for the wax beans though, since they were a bit tough. If I were to come again and it were so hot that I just couldn’t eat any hot soup (like that’s ever possible?) I’d probably order this as a light meal.  I do like my pickles. And Portland seems to like pickling things, as seen in this video:

Maybe I was spoiled by having the pork-heavy bowl of tsukemen at TsujitaLA, but the seafood ramen didn’t wow me. I probably would return for the vegetarian ramen though. It beats Shojin’s out of the water. I also like the decor, which is of the “bright, open, tech-startup” variety.

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Ave.
Portland, OR 97214
503 719 5698