After our scenic tour of SE looking for an open bar earlier where we could get a bottle of wine, we pretty much had the lay of the land and finding our B&B, The Clinton Street Guesthouse, was a breeze. It's one of many nicely updated and well cared for Craftsman-style cottages along Clinton Street, this one built in 1913. After we let ourselves in with the key code, we made our way to our second floor room and found that the room has a private balcony overlooking the back yard, which is complete with a large fig tree and a chicken coop with several Barred Rock chickens, which we heard from inside the room long before we ever saw them. We wouldn't meet our hosts, Jason and Ann, until the following morning.
Given our very close proximity to the universally acclaimed Thai restaurant Pok Pok, which like Lardo also started as a food cart, I wanted to go, not because everyone has to go here—I don't give a crap about that, but because Andy Ricker is doing food there that is unknown in this country and barely known in most of Thailand. This is an opportunity that a chef doesn't willingly give up and so we planned to walk there around dinner time.
Pok Pok is situated about a 10-minute walk in the absolutely perfect spring weather from where we were staying. During the walk to the restaurant along Clinton Street, we marveled at all the gardens in full bloom and at the swarms of bicyclists traveling along Clinton Street, designated a Bike Boulevard where bicycles have priority to motor vehicles. The poppies and the lilacs are all bursting forth in full bloom now along with dozens of other plants that being from the East Coast, I don't recognize.
When we arrived at Pok Pok at 6:45, we checked in and were told that we were looking at a 60-90 minute wait, which on a pretty night was not a horrible thing, but certainly not something that we are accustomed to. I generally wouldn't wait this long at a restaurant, but this was the one restaurant that I came to Portland to visit. We walked across the street to their bar, the Whiskey Soda Lounge, and commandeered a picnic table on the sidewalk of 32nd at Division and watched a veritable parade of people, mostly youngsters. Portland proper appears to be a young person's town. In fact, one young waitress told us, "This is where 30-year olds go to retire."
|Punny Khing and I|
|My Favorite for Spicy Food|
|Som Tam Thawt (Deep Fried Som Tam): How Freaking Awesome!|
Because Ann wasn't feeling well, we ordered in a hurry and ate in a hurry. We ordered an appetizer and two main dishes to be delivered at the same time. Like everyone else in the place, we ordered a plate of Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, huge fried wings tossed in a gooey fish sauce caramel. I won't do that again. I liked the wings, but they weren't stellar. They were huge to be sure, but I have made lots better fish sauce caramels in my life. Chicken wing box now ticked off, I would explore the rest of the menu if I ever had the chance again. If you are visiting Portland and want the wings, go to Whiskey Soda Bar and grab a couple drinks and some wings. You won't have to wait on line.
|Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings|
|Da Chom's Laap Meuang|
|Kaeng Hung Leh|
If I lived in Portland, Pok Pok is where I would hang out on my days off. I would finagle my way into the kitchen and would happily pound chiles in the pok pok all day long just to see how the dishes are made and to start picking some brains about northern Thai cooking.