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On My List: Pok Pok Ny

All of my best friends know that Thai food isn't my thing. I can enjoy an outing to Sripraphai, and I don't dislike the cuisine, but I never find myself craving the flavors of Thailand (at least not those that are available in New York). Perhaps it's my having been brought up on a very Western, American diet or perhaps it's my aversion to coconut in anything but an Almond Joy, but when the office mates suggest we all order the lunch specials from Yum Yum Too, I usually duck out and instead opt for Mexican, Italian, Chinese... really just anything else. Which is why I'm dying to go to Pok Pok Ny.

The restaurant sits along the "Columbia Waterfront" district of Brooklyn (I didn't know that was a place either), and, according to Pete Wells, who gave the restaurant two stars back in June, the "cheerfully ramshackle" outdoor space ain't half bad. Plus, if you're a Manhattanite like me making the trip to Brooklyn for a hip restaurant, you're looking for chillaxed space to drink a beer and snag a gaze or two at the New York skyline from the less familiar shore.

Credit: Evan Sung for The New York Times
Credit: Evan Sung for The New York Times

"We found the Columbia Waterfront to be an underserved area," explained Director of Operations, Matthew Adams. "The format of the restaurant is intended to be an homage to the Thai 'Garden Restaurant' which features multiple kitchens and both indoor and outdoor seating areas."

Despite the hour-long trek to the restaurant, the allure of the northern Thai cuisine at Pok Pok Ny isn't relenting. Read the menu and you'll instantly notice the difference between Pok Pok Ny and your local Thai joint-- way fewer stir-fried, fatty noodles and coconut-based stews; way more charcoal-grilled meats and bright veggie salads.

Chef Andy Ricker "began travelling through southeast Asia in the late 80's and discovered a huge disconnect between the Thai food available in the States and what is commonly available in Thailand," said Adams. "He was lucky enough to have friends up in Chiang Mai who introduced him to local, seasonal cuisine that eventually led him to open Pok Pok."

Credit: Evan Sung for The New York Times
Credit: Evan Sung for The New York Times

The restaurant doesn't take reservations. That's a "thing" now, in case you didn't hear. But as the warm weather approaches, I'm looking forward to making my way out to Cobble Hill for a meal at Pok Pok Ny. It'll be an adventure, but here's hoping it'll help me learn to love Thai food!

Photos used courtesy of Pok Pok Ny.

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