Dining Out: Pok Pok Noi (Portland, OR)

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I love filling my head with information about food writing, the business of blogging, and the intricacies of e-publishing as much as the next blogger…

…but being confined in a stuffy conference room for two days straight is making me downright batty.

A small pack of us happily broke away at lunchtime to chow at Pok Pok Noi (the smaller, abridged version of the original Pok Pok), located in a tree-lined nabe in Northeast Portland. Okay, who am I kidding? Every neighborhood here resembles a forest.

But when the five of us arrived at the restaurant, it turned out that only three of us were itching to eat at Pok Pok Noi; the other two wanted to dine at Grain & Gristle next door instead. Since food trumps friendship, we opted to split up and regroup post-meal. (Kidding — but not about spitting up to hit two different restaurants.)

Pok Pok Noi serves a dozen or so of the greatest hits from the regular Pok Pok menu, which was just fine by us. (As much as we love to eat, we weren’t likely to order more than 12 dishes.) By the way, Pok Pok is not Paleo AT ALL — the menu clearly states, “we use peanuts, shrimp, meat, eggs, sugar, salt, wheat & dairy products in our preparations” and makes clear that no substitutions are allowed. But this was one of those rare meals where I figured the indulgence would be worth any gastrointestinal consequences.

The three of us unanimously agreed that we wouldn’t be satisfied unless we ordered half the menu. While I sipped on a can of coconut water, the dishes came out in quick succession.

We shared Papaya Pok Pok — spicy green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, Thai chili, tamarind, fish sauce, and peanuts (and yes, Paleo Police, I left the peanuts on the plate)…

…Muu Paa Kham Waan (grilled boar collar with a spicy chili lime garlic sauce), Neua Naam Tok (spicy flank steak “salad”)…

…and a platter of Ike’s Vietnamese Spicy Fish Sauce Wings.

These wings are legendary — and with good reason: crunchy, juicy, sweet, savory, and tangy. Again, not Paleo whatsoever, but sooooo worth it.

I had a terrific time sharing plates with my lunch companions, Lia (of Nourish Network fame) and Kat (author of the terrific and essential The Kitchen Counter Cooking School). When not immersed in conversation, we fed ourselves with our hands, murmuring about the amazing food. As Lia dumped her cleaned bones on the platter, she declared that the food at Pok Pok must be Paleo because we were all grunting like cavemen.

We were so caught up in licking our fingers and picking every last morsel of the platters that Kat was almost late for the writing workshop she was leading at IFBC.

The rest of my day was spent cooped up indoors as I absorbed as much as possible about improving the quality of my writing. My mission is to maximize the pithiness of my blog ramblings, yo. By the way, for a shining example of kickass food writing, check out my pal Cheryl’s prose on her award-winning blog. She’s my hero.

Me write pretty someday…hopefully!


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  1. tullyk reblogged this from nomnompaleo and added:
    I’ve never been here but I want to go.
  2. nomnompaleo posted this