Pok Pok Phat Thai
137 Rivington St (Norfolk St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 477-1299
Area: Lower East Side
Entree Price: $10-15
When Pok Pok Wing opened on the Lower East Side, I was among the throngs to head downtown. Hot wings are always welcome in my book, and Pok Pok's were truly special, slathered with a sweet and peppery sauce. But the wings proved too difficult to maintain in such a tight space.
Enter: Pok Pok Phat Thai.
The place itself hasn't changed one iota. The subterranean spot resembles most New York basements with a stone wall on one side and a narrow counter on the other with a small sharing table down the center. The sleeves of vintage vinyl records featuring Thai artists remain, but the wings are gone, and in its place - pad Thai.
The traditional noodle dish is now the star of the show and this version is well versed in taste and style. Thin rice noodles are immersed in rendered pork fat with tamarind and fish sauce. Dried shrimp, egg, and bean sprouts round out the dish, which also gets a blast of chili powder and peanuts for crunch. It is served with your choice of ground pork or prawns, or both. The New York Times calls it one of the most "authentic" versions of pad Thai in the city. I found it a bit fishy tasting.
One other dish being offered is a Thai crepe called Hoi Thawt. It's stuffed with mussels, eggs and garlic and served with a Shark Sri Racha sauce. Drinking vinegars in flavors like apple, honey and pomegranate also remain, as does the house roasted red peanuts. They are mixed with chilies, garlic, sea salt, and lime leaves. At $5 for a small bag, they are also quite addictive. Now, if only they could bring the wings back.
Review By: Thomas Rafael