The headline says it all. And, though I'm really not a "joiner" and generally will do almost anything to not go along with the crowd, I'm on the bus with them if they're going to this place. We went to Pok Pok with a total of six people, an ideal number since it gives you a chance to try lots of dishes (we had a total of nine), the only drawback being that the restaurant only has one table for that size group and it's a four-top with a bench on one side. Fortunately three of our group are smaller in stature and width, so we made them sit on the bench and the rest of us occupied the three chairs. It made for a cozy dining experience and all the food was within reach, which was handy since everyone was so busy eating that you couldn't get them to pass you anything.
The restaurant is located in the basement of a small bungalow, just down the street from Lauro and Pix, two other well-known denizens of this stretch of SE Division below 39th. Inside it feels like someone's basement party room, with a wet bar against the back wall, a low ceiling and an assortment of small tables scattered around the concrete floor. All waiting, and at dinner this is a given, is done outside on the patio tables. The good part is that cocktails are served while you're waiting, and you get to smell the delicious smoke from the charcoal grill that is kept blazing with orders from the restaurant and the take-out shack.
I won't go into details about the individual dishes, since each one we had was completely distinct from the others and all were fabulous. The other good news is that the main floor of the house is going to open for dining next month, which will mean more great food and, hopefully, some larger tables.
The summary? One word: Go. Or maybe two: Go now.
Photo, clockwise from upper left: Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, Northern Thai Herbal Salad, Shrimp Salad, Prawns in Thai Noodles, Green Papaya Salad, Curried Beef Hot Pot (in pot), Eggplant with vegetables, Duck salad. Not pictured: Hoi Thawt (mussels).
Details: Pok Pok, 3226 SE Division; Phone 503-232-1387.