Is It Any Good?

Thai Food from the one and only Andy Ricker…in Chinatown.

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From the mind of a James Beard Award winning Chef…

No, seriously. The place may look like it’s been started by a bunch of College Kids with a Popular Food Truck, but it’s really the brainchild of Andy Ricker, the award winner in question. Perhaps you know him from such TV shows, as…this one:

“He’s made a name for himself faithfully reproducing the cuisine of Northern Thailand.” And that’s a quote from Anthony Bourdain himself. Thai Cuisine (as it also says in the episode) is highly, highly regional

(Side Note: As many Bourdain references as I make on this site, as many Bourdainisms as I blatantly use on a daily basis, Bourdain and the folks at Zero Point Zero are either going to love me or wanna punch me min the face.)

Pok Pok Phat Thai has been popular up in Portland, and they’ve got annexes out in Brooklyn. Well, we finally got one here in Chinatown, just two or three doors away from Chego.

Andy Ricker isn’t a guy who just picked up a Cookbook and figured out from his time in Culinary School how to make this stuff. According to Parts Unknown: Thailand, he’s been jetting back and forth between here and Thailand for 25 years, picking new things up, learning new techniques.

He loves the stuff. He makes you love the stuff.

Pok Pok Phat Thai has a small, humble stall inside the complex, and…as I’ve already said, it’s got a fair bit of competition. But for you, the humble food consumer this is a great, great thing.

Pok Pok Phat Thai is a counter based service. Set inside, order up, then sit down. Easy enough, you’ve done it a hundred times before. The interior is a mix of both funky, and the flavor of Thailand. Not just the stuff you think is from Thailand at the Cost Plus World Market, but you see flashes of some of the history. Record covers. Pop symbols, historical. It’s a different feeling yet…familiar. I got the same vibe from the Ladies who run Sapp Coffee House.

You wait, and soak up the ambience (and yes, it is ambience) as your Cook is prepared. Your plate arrives, and your work begins.

Wait. What? What work? I thought I just had to eat.

No, no, no. You have to adjust your dish with any one for the available chilies, vinegar and chilies available everywhere. (Skip down to the Safety Tip, if you just want to get to the food).

Asia has always been about Tunable Meals, things that look plain on the outside, but once adjusted by the Customer turn into magical things. More importantly, they turn into individual, magical things.

Soak it in and love it. The place is so good, even when I’m hell bent for Chego, I think about stopping by. (And I’m all about being hell bent for Chego.)

The Phat Sii Ew with Pork at Pok Pok Thai.

WHAT SHOULD I GET?: There’s a lot of Seafood on the menu, so I’m a bit limited myself, but…even so, their Phat Eii Ew sends me to heaven every time.

There seems to be a note from Chef on the menu that he had to try the dish 50 times before attempting it himself, but he really had it figured out after three tries. I’ve only had the dish twice, but…I’m pretty sure he’s got it too.

It’s a blend of noodles (the flat and wide variety), Chinese Broccoli (my favorite kind) Egg and black soy sauce. Very good. Add the available chilies to taste, and the magic will happen from there.

Seasoning tips at Pok Pok Thai.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Sometimes this section talks about individual oddities that the restaurant has. Sometimes it’s about crazy mistakes the author makes.

Guess which one this is going to be?

Second time I come by, I get the same thing, the Phat Eii Ew. I think I know what I’m doing, so I grab for the Chiles…well, let’s just say I got two of them mixed up, because there was one that I liked that was pretty mild, and another that was blazing inferno hot.

Guess…which one…I spread…all over…my plate?

Oh, I finished. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t as happy as my first visit, but I finished it.

Going to be way more careful next time, and ASK.


PARKING: Like with Chego, if you park in the complex’s Parking Structure (incredibly narrow, decently hard to find), you should park for free…if you can get in and out in an hour. As I remember, last time I was there Pok Pok Phat Thai did not have Parking Validation set up. They were getting it, so, by the time you read this, they should be cool.

But the food’s good, so go! GO!

Pok Pok Thai in Chinatown.

Pok Pok Phat Thai
727 N. Broadway #130
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tel: (213) 628-3071

Sunday-Wednesday: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
Thursday-Saturday: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm