Sep 2015

Pok Pok Phat Thai – Los Angeles (Chinatown)

Pok Pok Phat Thai - Chinatown - Los Angeles

The arrival of Pok Pok Phat Thai was a mixed bag for me. As a Thai food lover, I was thrilled to have superb regional noodles available a stone’s throw from home. The only downside was that the restaurant took the space formerly occupied by Hoan Kiem, a Northern Vietnamese spot that served terrific banh cuon and pho ga. Alas, that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

Pok Pok Phat Thai - Chinatown - Los Angeles

Phat Thai is the first of two Pok Pok concepts that Chef Andy Ricker is bringing to L.A. His full-service Pok Pok, which I was a fan of when I visited it in Portland, should be arriving before year’s end.

Phat Thai’s menu is succinct, and service is efficient. After ordering at the counter and grabbing a seat at the communal picnic table out front, we received our food within five minutes or so. Fast service makes for happy parents, always.

Pok Pok Phat Thai - Chinatown - Los Angeles

I had heard (and read) that careful application of condiments is key to a great Pok Pok experience. Otherwise, the food can taste bland. This cart full of fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar was on hand to season our dishes to taste. The chili-spiked fish sauce and fresh lime juice were essential for Pok Pok perfection for The Astronomer and me.

Pok Pok Phat Thai - Chinatown - Los Angeles

First up was the Hoi Thawt ($9), a “crispy broken crepe with steamed fresh mussels, eggs, garlic chives and bean sprouts, served with Thai sriracha sauce.” This is a Thai street vendor’s specialty, according to the menu.

If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it is that I loathe bean sprouts. However, the Hoi Thawt was so tasty that I didn’t even mind the sprouts’ muddy flavors here.

Pok Pok Phat Thai - Chinatown - Los Angeles

My favorite dish of the day was the Kuaytiaw Khua Kai, wide rice noodles stir-fried to crispy and caramelized greatness in rendered pork fat with duck, cuttlefish, egg and green onions ($12). This is a Bangkok Chinatown specialty, according to the menu.

Pok Pok Phat Thai - Chinatown - Los Angeles

And finally, an order of the restaurant’s namesake Phat Thai ($8.50), thin rice noodles cooked in rendered pork fat with tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar, peanuts, dried tofu, dried shrimp, preserved radish, egg, garlic chives, bean sprouts, and chili powder.

The noodles were quite delicious, but in my heart of hearts, I will always favor the American-style, sticky sweet pad Thai that I grew up with over the more “authentic” preparations. Still, we finished every last strand.

Pok Pok Phat Thai
727 North Broadway #130
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 213-628-3071

One year ago: Union – Pasadena
Two years ago: Lay’s Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish Flavor
Three years ago: Le Chateaubriand – Paris
Four years ago: L.A. County Fair 2011: Deep-Fried Kool Aid, Indian Fry Bread, Monster Corn Dogs, and More!
Five years ago: Danger Dogs: Blurring the Line Between Work and Play
Six years ago: Rosemary Apricot Bars
Seven years ago: Bún Thịt Nướng & Mít Luộc
Eight years ago: Wonder – Da Nang
Nine years ago: Becco – New York City

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4 thoughts on “Pok Pok Phat Thai – Los Angeles (Chinatown)

  1. Hoàn Kiếm Left in 2013. The dude from Starry Kitchen used the space on Fridays to serve lunch in 2013-14. He should have gotten over himself and made that place his instead of trying to raise $500,000 on kickstarter for big place he didn’t really need.

  2. Michael – Ah, yes. I composed my sentence with incorrect emphasis. I meant that it was a sad coincidence that Pok Pok is occupying the space that housed a great Vietnamese restaurant, rather than Pok Pok causing Hoan Kiem to close.

    And I didn’t realize Nguyen used the space too. He totally should have jumped on it.

  3. I didn’t know you weren’t into the bean sprouts! Filing that away for later use! Glad to get your take on this… I’m with you on the Americanized pad thai…one of my favorite guilty pleasures. 🙂

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