Pok Pok Wing Brings Portland's Beloved Spicy-Sticky Poultry to the LES

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Lauren Shockey
Eat these on Super Bowl Sunday!

Andy Ricker's deep-fried, fish-sauce-dressed chicken wings have been called one of the best restaurant dishes in America, and the chef even won a James Beard Award for his Thai cooking at his Portland restaurant, Pok Pok. Ricker's planning to open a full-blown Pok Pok outpost in Red Hook, but until then, heat seekers and wing lovers can get a preview at Pok Pok Wing, located in the old Baohaus space at 137 Rivington Street (212-477-1299). And as hyped as the wings are, we've gotta admit it: This is some damn good chicken.

The menu at Pok Pok wing is notably brief. You can get either plain or spicy wings for $12.49 (for six full wings, drumstick included), papaya salad for $8.50, khao man som tam (a/k/a shredded pork over rice) for $10.50, coconut rice for $2.50, sticky rice for $2, and roasted peanuts for $5. To drink, there are Pok Pok's signature drinking vinegars (available in tamarind, apple, honey, or pomegranate) and Stumptown coffee.

The wings come with pickles and assorted herbs (including rau ram!) and are actually a huge portion. To make the wings, Ricker marinates the chicken in sugar, garlic, and fish sauce, then deep-fries them and finishes them with more garlic and a caramelized fish sauce. The result is both savory and sweet and most certainly sticky. You're going to want to get these for your Super Bowl party -- promise.


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Lauren Shockey
Green papaya salad is nice and spicy.

That said, just eating the chicken can be a bit intense, and that's where the papaya salad comes in. A classic Northern Thai preparation, with shredded green papaya, long beans, tomatoes, peanuts, chiles, and a limey dressing. It's tangy and spicy and pairs really well with the wings.


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3 comments
Intrepid Eater
Intrepid Eater

Did you know the name of the restaurant, pok pok, is what some Thai people call Som Tum, which is green papaya salad? They got it from the noise made by the wooden mortar and pestle they make the salad in. And yes, it is of Northern Thai origin -- Issan to be more exact -- but having been traveling around and living here in Thailand for over a year, I can tell you it's as close to a national dish as any I've found. Everyone loves it! The version described above is missing dried shrimp. There is also usually some kind of fish paste, or maybe even a whole baby crab often thrown in. The sweet, sour and (usually very) hot flavors are balanced with slightly funky fishiness. Here it usually costs about US$1.

DaisyMae
DaisyMae

Pokpok in tagalog means slutty!

Lshockey
Lshockey

Yes, I think there is some dried shrimp thrown into the version here, too, and you can also get the som tum/pok pok with salted crab for $2 more.  Alas, they aren't sold at Thailand prices, though!  But definitely tasty!

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