I did laugh out loud and possibly may have even done a chicken walk to the sound of Portland’s hottest restaurant, Pok Pok. Having discovered a very decisive and accurate listing of some of America’s best restaurants, Pok Pok had been on my radar and as it so happened that I had a friend who I was visiting in Portland, the opportunity was there for the taking. To bolster this decision, a couple of friendly diners with whom I struck up a foodie rapport at Red Farm in New York further mentioned Pok Pok’s claim to culinary fame as one of America’s finest Asian restaurants. Having won the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef, Northwest 2011, Andy Ricker’s brand of Northern Thai cuisine has no problems filling the rafters, with people constantly queueing to sample the fare. Luckily, being a table of two not opposed to sitting at the bar, we were let in almost immediately to start our feasting….
It takes 4.5 hours to fly from Chicago to Los Angeles. It takes 4.5 hours to fly from London to Istanbul. Turns out the U.S is a lot larger than I had thought, but could we really fit all the countries between England and Turkey into the U.S? Anyway, on a more cheery note, there’s nothing like having friends all over the world – they put you up, they take you out, they tolerate you and you don’t have to clean up! A few months prior to hitting la la land, I’d heard of a restaurant called Animal that seemingly was one of the hottest tables in town and Mr. W senior was kind enough to bag a table, thus enabling us to continue our round-the-world feasting encounters (Prague, London and Mumbai were priors)! A feast of southern-ish, locally sourced food was to ensue, one where after the meal Mr. W junior remarked “wow…this was so good that anything else I eat from now on, will get serious abuse from my belly!”
It goes without saying that when a restaurant says they don’t take reservations, you need to go early. Or so I thought. Going early just meant that there weren’t that many people standing in line, though on this occasion, I had the game of numbers on my side – I was without company. A lone diner, a solitary companion, who moved past the disgruntled group of 4 who were told to come back in 2 hours and swiftly to a tiny corner of standing space at the bar, feeling smug, hungry and a little bit excited. This was a day of Asian food nirvana, a day when my endorphins and all other feel food factors were firing on all cylinders, but just how good was Red Farm going to be after a lunch at Fatty Crab? Would the food make up for the discomfort of having to stand for the entire meal, staring at a wooden beam, waiters rushing by, occasionally bumping into you.. well, the good thing about Red Farm is that you could have been made to stand and eat with your plate in your hand and your glass balanced precariously on your head, and you’d still run out of the front door shouting at people to queue up as quickly as they could and wait for 4 hours to get a table.
What do you get when you take 18 hungry foodies and put them in a neighbourhood Chinese restaurant? Mayhem of the utmost porcine order! I’m told that the influence of the food at Gold Mine is predominantly Malay-Chinese and by glancing at the customers filling the room, one is immediately aware that this is the right place! Like most places of this nature, going with a group is the only way to enjoy the multitude of dishes that line the restaurants menu, and better yet, go with someone who has an ethnic connection to this style of food, which we were quite lucky to do.