The awards and accolades continue to pour in for James Beard Award-winning Chef Andy Ricker, owner of seven restaurants — three in New York City and four in Portland — including Sabin’s Pok Pok Noi at
Northeast Prescott and 15th Avenue.
Anthony Bourdain, best known for his TV show “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel, calls Ricker’s version of Northern Thai food served at Ricker’s Brooklyn, NY, restaurant, “simply the best, tastiest and what I think is the most authentic.”
A February 2013 Bon Appetite magazine story rated Ricker’s Pok Pok eateries No. 8 among the 20 Most Important Restaurants in America. And in December, The New York Times’ Dining editors ranked Ricker’s
just-published Thai cookbook and travelogue, “Pok Pok,” among the newspaper’s 20 best-selling food books. It’s available for sale in all of Ricker’s restaurants as well as at Powell’s Books.
But back to Pok Pok Noi, which opened in 2010 at 1469 N.E. Prescott in a long, narrow storefront next to Grain & Gristle. Ricker had heard the space was opening up when Rodney Muirhead decided to move
his popular Podnah’s Pit barbecue restaurant to Northeast Killingsworth.
“I wanted to do something for this side of town, to service this neighborhood,” Ricker says. “I decided to do just a ‘greatest hits’ of Pok Pok,” he adds, referring to his first restaurant, which opened in 2005 on Southeast Division.
Among Pok Pok Noi’s more popular dishes are the Pok Pok Special, half a roasted game hen with a small green papaya salad and sticky rice and dipping sauces for $15.50. That game hen is stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro and served with spicy sweet and sour and tamarind dipping sauces.
Due to its fame, many folks can’t get enough of Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings ($14). These chicken wings are marinated in fish sauce and palm sugar, deep-fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoc fish sauce
and garlic, and served with Vietnamese table salad. Food and Wine Magazine named these wings one of the 10 best restaurant dishes in America in 2007.
Ricker’s spicy-hot Southeast Asian food is not for the faint of palate, and it can be a surprise for people used to the mild food often found in U.S. Thai restaurants. Ricker’s menu consists of dishes he personally researched and perfected during his many travels throughout mostly Northern Thailand since 1987. He has spent several months there each year since 1992.
Ricker named his first restaurant Pok Pok for the sound a mortar and pestle make while grinding and combining ingredients used in many Asian dishes. Noi means “little” or “small” in Thai, and can refer to both
Pok Pok Noi’s size and number of offerings, never more than 15 on the menu.
Pok Pok Noi is open for dinner Monday through Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Many customers order from the online menu at www.pokpoknoi.com, then pick up
their dinner at the restaurant to take home. Others enjoy full service in the front dining room or on the patio, which is enclosed and includes heat lamps during colder months. For more information, go to the website or call 503-287-4149.
— Susan Goracke