5 Things You Should Know About Pok Pok Phat Thai Before Trashing it on Yelp

Chinatown’s emergence as the hottest new food neighborhood in L.A. took another major step forward in the final days of 2014 when Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Phat Thai joined Roy Choi’s Chego and Scoops in the Chinatown Plaza (Eggslut’s Ramen Champ has since joined them as well.) You likely have heard of Ricker’s brand of Thai food, thanks to super popular restaurants in Portland and New York.  But not everybody has welcomed Pok Pok with open arms and their Yelp page has quickly devolved into a mess of complaints, some fair but most completely unfair for a restaurant that is less than a month old.  Before you jump into the fray with a crappy review of your own, here are 5 things you should probably know about the new Pok Pok, complete with quotes we got from Ricker, who is currently in Thailand.


1.  Pok Pok Phat Thai isn’t Pok Pok.  So you went to Pok Pok on that last trip to Portland and loved the chicken wings?  Congrats!  This isn’t Pok Pok. Pok Pok is a full restaurant, a branch of which will be opening later this year up the street in the Mandarin Plaza.  This is Pok Pok Phat Thai, a quick service noodle shop dedicated to the kind of sautéed fast food they serve on the streets of Thailand.  If you want the wings, you’re going to have to wait a little while longer.

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Watch Me “Gimmick Test” an Orange Chicken Burrito For Zagat

If you read my post about Panda Express Innovation Kitchen last year and thought “Man, I would have loved to see Zach go to town on one of those!” then you’re a very strange person.  But you’re also in luck!  Zagat just launched a new video series titled “Gimmick Testing” starring Lesley Balla and yours truly, and the first episode is… you guessed it… Panda Innovation Kitchen.  Warning: there are slow motion shots of me shoving an orange chicken burrito into my fat face.  Future episodes will feature Lesley and I eating at Choco Chicken, Donut Friend, The Escondite, and more.


Help Starry Kitchen and Roy Choi Fund Their Next Projects

If your New Year’s Resolution was to be more charitable, or support a local business, here are two crowd funding campaigns going on right now that are worth taking a look at…

Just after the holidays Starry Kitchen launched the Kickstarter to end all Kickstarters. It’s called “Save Our Balls” (naturally) and they’re hoping to raise $500,000, an obscene amount for a restaurant kickstarter, for sure, but a drop in the bucket for a couple looking to give themselves some security to open the permanent restaurant of their dreams.   For those who don’t pay much attention to food blogs or Jonathan Gold lists, or find it super easy to ignore a guy in a banana suit with a megaphone, Starry Kitchen is the former illegal eatery, turned legal water court lunch spot, turned pop up restaurant that is currently operating out of Grand Star in Chinatown.  Their food, a menu mix of pan-asian homeyness,  has gotten better and better with every incarnation. But clearly the 5+ years of jumping around has taken its toll, leading them to issue this shocking ultimatum: they raise the full $500k to open their own place, or they go do something else. It’s a longshot they make it to their goal, but I’m not going to be blamed for losing out on Thi Tran’s garlic noodles, Singapore chili crab, pandan chicken, and their infamous tofu balls.  And make no mistake about it… if they close, and you didn’t donate, I will blame you.

But wait, there’s more…

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Pok Pok Phat Thai Now Open in Chinatown; Night + Market Song Finally Starts Lunch Service Today

It’s been two and half years since we first whined about Night+Market not being open for lunch, and while WeHo still has to go to Talesai for their mid-day taste of Thai food, the Silverlake branch of Chef Kris Yenbamroong’s Night+Market has finally answered our prayers.  N+M Song opens for lunch today, launching with a “fast plates” menu designed for quick lunchtime eating.  A few of the dinner favorites, like the khao soi, are available and the fried chicken sandwich has finally made it to the printed menu.  Plus you can get meat in your pad thai!  Check out the full menu over on Eater.

But wait… there’s more.

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Join Us For A Special Screening of The Search for General Tso + Q&A and Free Food

What’s better than Chinese food on a Sunday night?  A great movie about Chinese food on a Sunday night.  Join me and Evan Kleiman from KCRW’s Good Food this Sunday night, January 4th, at the Arena Cinema in Hollywood (1625 N Las Palmas) for a special screening of The Search for General Tso, a great new documentary about Chinese food in America.  After the screening there will be a Q&A with the film’s producer Jennifer 8 Lee (author of the Fortune Cookie Chronicles) plus free General Tso’s chicken and beverages in the courtyard.  The screening starts at 5:10pm and you can buy tickets here>> 

Check out the trailer, here

China Catering Unlocks the Mystery Behind General Tso

My 10 Favorite Versions of Pad Thai in Los Angeles

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point over the past 10 years pad thai went from being the most popular Thai food dish to the laughing stock of so called serious eaters everywhere.  “You don’t want to order the pad thai” has become the rallying cry of so called “foodies”, even though it blends together all the best parts of Thai cooking. Sweet. Spicy. Sour. Funky.  Well, consider this the backlash to the backlash.  There is some seriously awesome Pad Thai to be had in Los Angeles right now… and with Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Phat Thai set to open any day now, it’s only going to get better.  In the meantime here’s a list of my 10 favorite versions of pad thai that I put together for DineLA.

Mister Bossam is a Welcome New Pork Belly Option from Korea

It would appear as if L.A. is in the midst of an Asian chain invasion. Following in the footsteps of Din Tai Fung, the famous Taiwanese dumpling shop with 2 locations in Arcadia and 1 in Glendale, we’ve seen a steady stream of big (?) names from overseas open all over the city.  Korean BBQ from Kang Hodong Baekjong, Sichuan specialities from Meizhou Dongpo, Hai Di Lao’s hot pot, and Japanese ramen chain Larmen Dosanko are just a few of the new spots looking to test how hungry L.A. eaters are for “authentic” Asian experiences- without having to go through LAX.  The latest to join the parade is Mister Bossam, a South Korean cafe specializing in pork belly and something called “LA Grilled Cheese Baby Pork Ribs”.

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