Pok Pok

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.

Location:  261 Karangahape Road
Phone: 9639987
Hours: 5pm til late
Prices: something small $8 – $10, something more $16 – $20, something on the side $2 – $8, something sweet $10 – $14
Credit Cards:  Yes
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Takeaways: Yes
Bathrooms:  Fine
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4 Responses

  1. tj says:

    Great food. The caramelised pork belly is outstanding. Sorry I missed the Groupon Voucher they had. Not busy on a Sunday night. BYO corkage $3 per person. Thanks for the recommendation,

  2. CP says:

    Agreed with all of the above, great value place for amazing food!

  3. Paige says:

    Went to Pok Pok last Sunday for dinner for the first time – it was amazing, great service and such tasty food. Cheap for a lot of food, we had to bring a doggy bag home. Highly recommend if you would like to have tasty pork belly!

  4. Juliet says:

    I went to Pok Pok for an unplanned dinner with a group of 6 others on a Friday night at 8pm. We didn’t book and they obviously had quite a few bookings about to come in but they managed to squeeze us in which was nice.
    We forgot it was BYO, and as more and more people came in, it got louder and louder and so very busy – which I guess is to be expected at a Friday night BYO.
    However, all our meals arrived at our table at extremely different times – the Laab came out, 10 mins later Pad Thai came out, another 10 mins and the 3 Pork Belly’s came out together. Everyone else had pretty much finished eating by the time the Crispy Tuna Salad came out for me and one other person. This is I guess pretty understandable, they seemed slightly short staffed and there was probably 40 people in quite a small place – and if this was the only problem then I wouldn’t bother writing a review.

    Anyway, onto the food – I ordered the Crispy Tuna Salad, which was nothing at all like I expected.
    The menu says “crispy tuna, prawn meat, shallots, roasted peanuts, fry chilli, coriander, red chilli dressing” and I was expecting a leaf-based salad with hunks of tuna and all of the above in it.
    What came out instead was a huge pile of deep fried nothing – I’m not actually sure what it was, maybe tuna flakes or very fine tuna bits but it had no discernible tuna flavour or look or anything at all about it – a guy I was with said it tasted kind of like the Japanese bento flakes that you can get except LESS fishy. Everything else that was on top – the prawns etc and the dressing – was delicious but if you took away the deep fried scrapings, it was approx the size of my fist and left me very hungry afterwards.
    Unfortunately I only took a photo after I had eaten everything else but you can see the deep fried bits in the picture below.

    I would probably go back to Pok Pok as it’s very close to my house and everyone else enjoyed their meals, and I would probably recommend it to someone else too – with one note – DO NOT order the Crispy Tuna Salad as you will be highly disappointed.

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