Thai food is one of my favourite cuisines. I never tire of it. In addition to the authentic dishes I do love a good Thai fusion meal. You know the restaurants I mean, the more pocket draining joints such as the Chin Chin and Longrain’s of this world. As I can’t indulge at these places as regularly as I would like, imagine my excitement when I discovered Pok Pok. A restaurant that appeared modern, fun and served up Thai dishes with a twist at affordable prices. It was definitely worth trying!
Pok Pok is in Docklands and boy was it quiet down here on this Friday night. The restaurant is roomy, there are cute touches in the wallpaper and the vases on the tables but I found the atmosphere a little haphazard with the pink chairs and random planter boxes. It was also quite cold- I kept my coat on the whole night. I suppose the floor to ceiling concrete is responsible for that.
We were seated promptly by a friendly waitress who deposited our menus and took our orders for two Chang beers.
The menu is quite substantial- there are things to nibble on, soups, curries, salads, stir-fries, ‘street style favourites’ and rice and noodle based dishes- impossible to choose from. So impossible that we ended up ordering 4 mains. Unashamedly I never hesitate to over order but inevitably the slight tinge of embarrassment comes when the waitress can’t possibly fit anymore dishes onto our table. Our waitress on this occasion was hilarious. She giggled whilst incredulously muttering “ummm people normally order one dish each but you have ordered four. Oh my god, you must be hungry”. “Yes we are very hungry” I grinned.
A dish we always order when eating Thai is pad krapow. There’s something about the combination of chilli, basil and green beans which makes this dish irresistible. Sometimes the meat (either chicken, beef or pork) is minced and sometimes it is sliced, it varies from chef to chef. Pok Pok’s pad krapow gai was probably the highlight of the meal. The basil was fragrant and the crispy fried egg rounded the dish off nicely.
I love the barramundi and sticky pork salad at Chin Chin so I was eager to try Pok Pok’s version. The barramundi is flash fried and served with green apple, green mango, cashew nuts, red onion and a sweet and sour dressing. Unfortunately it was a bit disappointing- the apple was powdery and the flavours lacked cohesion. I wouldn’t order it again.
Our third main was the roast pork belly stir-fried with dry green peppercorn curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, chilli and basil served with jasmine rice. The flavours of this dish were great and the vegetables were crisp and fresh. The pork however was a bit of a let down as it was a bit tough and dry.
Our final main the massaman lamb curry was a slow cooked lamb shank wallowing amidst potatoes, cashew nuts and fried shallots. The meat fell away from the bone with ease and the accompanying roti bread was satisfyingly crisp and flaky. The sauce was quite sweet but I found it a nice change from the more pungent flavours of our other dishes.
If I worked or lived in Docklands, Pok Pok would be a great quick lunch or a lazy weeknight take-out option. I’m not 100% certain that Pok Pok has hit the fusion note quite right. If I returned I would probably err towards their ‘one dish meals’ like pad thai, pad krapow or pad kee mao as these are at the lower end of the price spectrum and it seems Pok Pok does do the classics well.
Good to know:
Crisp barramundi with green mango/green apple salad $16.50
Massaman lamb curry with crisp roti bread $14.50
Roast pork belly and dry green peppercorn $13.50
Thai favourites stir fried chilli basil chicken with fried egg “krapow gai kai dow” $12.50
801-803 Bourke Street
Monday to Wednesday 7:00am to 4:00pm
Thursday to Friday 7:00am to 10:00pm
Saturday 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Images: T B Southam