These are the reviews I hate writing. On one hand you want to tell everyone about the great place you’ve just found and on the other hand you want to keep it secret. A friend and I went to check out Pok Pok on a Tuesday night. It was surprisingly busy for a restaurant that has only been open three months and now I see why. It’s that place you want to go back to as soon as you’ve left.
We decided to do the obligatory girly shared plates ordering and I’m glad we did, as it meant we got to sample a lot. Every dish was wonderful. The Caramelised Pork Belly ($10), the Crispy Duck Spring Roll ($8), the Green Papaya Salad ($16) and the Wok-fried Asian Greens ($8) were all in generous portions and each was a wonderfully balanced mix of tastes and textures. It was a feast for $42.
The Pork Belly was my favourite. Crispy on the outside, soft, juicy and tender on the inside it was sweet and rich and perfectly cooked, but what made it exceptional was the small bowl of flat pieces of cucumber, daikon and coriander soaked in lemon juice. When you combined them, the sharpness of the salad cut through the porky fatty sticky goodness resulting in a wonderful bite. It was a decent serving for a small plate too.
The crispy Duck Spring Roll was huge (cut in two) and loaded to almost bursting with shredded duck, carrot, cabbage and coriander before being deep fried. But again it was the attention to detail with edible garnish and sauce that lifted it from nice to wonderful. While pleasant on its own it was fabulous with the sweet tamarind dipping sauce and a small salad loaded with thinly sliced pickled ginger. The combination worked well.
The green papaya salad was also a hit. It looked huge and we wondered if we’d get through it, but I think even if we hadn’t had the room we couldn’t have stopped ourselves going back for more, so addictive was the taste. Seared papaya, cherry tomatoes, green beans, roasted whole peanuts with a kick ass lime and tamarind dressing, this was outstanding. Even the rather ordinary dish of wok-fried Asian greens was just a notch above other places with garlic, oyster sauce and roasted chilli and it had a really well-rounded depth of flavour.
Definitely try Pok Pok. The service is friendly, the food is great and the decor (while simple) is clean and bright with little touches of contemporary chic. Only criticism is when I went back, a week later, I found they put canned tuna in one of their salads. Before you think I’ve lost all sense and credibility recommending a place which does that, try it. I wouldn’t order it again as I prefer fresh fish but it was wonderfully flavoured with its ginger, lemongrass, red chili nham jim and crispy shallots.
This would be perfect for a big group looking for something that won’t break the bank but I have enjoyed it twice with only two of us and am planning my third visit already. Go soon.