It’s not #1 on Urbanspoon for nothing.
While all you need for a great time in Portland can be found downtown, if you decide to venture out and cross a bridge or two you will not be disappointed. Case in point is Pok Pok which is located on SE Division. Tons of my friends from Vancouver told me to go there and check it out and they all can’t be wrong. Of course what sealed the deal for me was when my new friend and Portland local Darren Buckner picked it as our place to eat at one night. Always trust the locals, especially when you know they’ve travelled the world and share your love for great food. I’m putting the culinary adventure in Darren’s Hands and I’m ready to eat. 30 Days In Portland could easily have been 30 great places to eat in Portland, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.
Pok Pok is located at 3226 SE Division St in what appears to be a converted house. It’s a hodge podge of patios, rooms, stairs and nooks and crannies. It’s a little dark and the light exposure makes taking good photos a challenge but in the daylight this place does not strike you as the place to eat in Portland, however the line-ups will make you think twice. No one lines up for a restaurant if the food isn’t fantastic, especially me. Tonight is no exception as there is a 30+ minute wait for a table. Dining with a local has it’s advantages though and Darren knows the trick. You put your name on the list at Pok Pok and then you walk across the street, grab a seat and order a drink at Whiskey Soda Lounge.
Whiskey Soda Lounge is owned by the Pok Pok people and here we can relax and enjoy a cocktail or two for our table to become available. I step out of my comfort zone and order a Pok Pok Gin & Tonic, house infused Kaffir Lime gin served tall with tonic. Now I’m not normally a gin drinker but damn this is one fine cocktail.
When are table at Pok Pok is ready the servers at Whiskey Soda Lounge come to tell us and we settle our tab quickly. Back across the street we go, past the hostess desk, down some stairs and a left turn and we are here. Every room of the house/restaurant is full and this room is no exception. First order of business is another drink and I opt for a Tamarind Whiskey Sour, lip smacking delicious.
Now that cocktails are taken care of it’s time to review the menu and choose our meals. Darren and I decide to go family style and order a few dishes to share. First up is Muu Sateh, pork loin skewers grilled over charcoal and served with peanut sauce, cucumber relish and grilled bread. Light and relatively simple in appearance but super tender and the peanut sauce is to die for!
Our next dish is Muu Paa Kham Waan, translated it’s Boar Collar meat rubbed with spices, glazed with soy and sugar and grilled over charcoal. Accompanying the Boar Collar is a side of Mustard Greens and a spicy chili, lime and garlic sauce. Something I’ve never seen before is the mustard greens are covered in chopped ice. Apparently the ice keeps the mustard greens cool and crisp as a balance to the heat from spices on the boar collar. Not only is the food absolutely delicious but I’ve been transported to Thailand through my dinning experience. Fun! Big shout out to my friends Sean Horlor & Steve Adams who tipped me off to this dish.
Our last dish is the Papaya Pok Pok salad and a side of sticky rice. Green Papaya with tomatoes, red peppers and long beans tossed in a sauce made to order of Thai chili, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic palm sugar, dried shrimp and peanuts. It’s delicious and a fresh and light way to end our meal.
I thought we were done but apparently not quite. I couldn’t eat another bite but Darren couldn’t come to Pok Pok without ordering some of their famous Pok Pok Chicken Wings. I’ve never seen food glow and glisten before and these wings almost made me break to try one but I just couldn’t eat anymore. It’s a reason to go back for sure, next time the wings will be ordered first.
A great evening out with a great new friend, what could be better. I’d love to share a bit of info on Darren and what he does with you, it’s because of this that we met actually. Darren is a nomadic worker and has worked for a few Silicon Valley companies as well as others. The type of work he does though could be done anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection and that experience gave birth to an idea which has led to his current passion and business, it’s called workfrom. Imagine a website that lists all the coffee shops in the city you are in and rates them on Wi-Fi speed, background noise, and seating options. Everything a nomadic worker needs to know. Of course there is more involved that just a “Yelp” of coffee shops but I don’t want to give away all his secrets and plans. Needless to say it’s launched in Portland first and I found it a great resource to help me find places to write and enjoy a good cup of coffee. Check it out because fairly soon workfrom will be coming to a city you’ll be working in.
I want to thank my sponsors Roam Mobility and GM Canada for helping me make this series possible. Roam of course for their awesome product to help me stay connected at a reasonable price and to GM for providing me with a sweet ride to make the road trip in. I don’t know what I’ll be getting yet but I’m looking forward to exploring and test driving a brand new GM.
Roam Mobility is a Canadian wireless company that eliminates US roaming fees by connecting you directly to its nationwide network in the USA. To get started with Roam, all you need is one of their USA Travel SIM Cards or devices, then you can enjoy unlimited talk and text, plus data anytime you cross the border. Just pick a plan that fits your needs, schedule when you want it to start and travel free from USA roaming fees with Roam Mobility! To learn more, visit www.roammobility.com.