Roses and thorns about Pok Pok Ny? I like to start with the thorns. There is only one tiny toilet for the entire restaurant and the wait is typically 7-8 people long. The part that bothered me is that when the employees at Pok Pok have to use the bathroom they cut in line and say to everyone, “I just need to check to make sure the bathroom is clean for you!” In line last night one employee did this and as he was walking out he was adjusting his fly, clearly having just urinated. Moments later another employee cut in front of everyone again saying, “I just need to check to make sure the bathroom is clean for you!” My friend told her, “Somebody just did that 30 seconds ago.” The employee looked embarrassed, as it was apparent that we had caught on to their system. Pok Pok: rent some Porta-Johns.
The food was good but nothing was so memorable that I would actually go to Redhook again for it. In fact there was one “Vietnamese” style catfish over vermicelli dish that was covered in dill (I wonder if it was really pak chee lao) and it reminded me of a foul Slavic dish of carp with dill.
The papaya salad with salted black crab could have been a little spicier.
I felt kind of swindled after my Singha slushy arrived. The server omitted the part about it basically being a bottle of beer that was left in a freezer for too long. She pointed to a fanciful battery-operated wooden barrel that twists back and forth, mixing ice and salt around the bottles to lower the temperature and turn the beer into slush.
The wings and the papaya salad with salted black crab are also available at Pok Pok Wing in the Lower East Side — so you won’t have to go all the way to Redhook to try those menu items.
Did I forget the roses? I think I’m just focusing on the thorns because I’m so sad I live in Queens, so far away from this amazing restaurant. It really is a special place with herbs and ingredients hard (impossible?) to find elsewhere in the city. I suppose it’s a case of sour grapes because I know I won’t be able to return for a while and taste their awesome food! PS: the staff is super friendly even though they tend to exude a certain Portlandia vibe.
Pok Pok Ny
127 Columbia St