Tag Archives: NYC Restaurants

NYC Best: yes yes to Pok Pok

Pok Pok

Pok Pok

When you think of thai food, if all you know is pad thai, then it’s time to be schooled in the ways of Pok Pok, New York’s latest west coast transplant to open up in thriving Red Hook. With a small front dining area, there is almost always a wait an hour+ long, but now that Summer is upon us, the back garden has been converted into an expanded dining area and a place to grab a refreshing jelly beer or a cocktail from the long list of thai-infused mixers.

Dining is family style, and while the table is set with utensils, you’re encouraged to try things like grilled meat, skewers and sticky rice by using your hands — there are no rules here, only napkins and wet wipes. The menu is long and reads like a traveling recap throughout Thailand. Use your wait-time to salivate over and narrow your choices, zeroing in on 2-3 plates per person {advice: bring more friends, try more goodness}.

Yam Samun Phrai

Yam Samun Phrai

Yam Samum Phrai {it’s everything you want in a salad — crunchy texture and refreshing citrusy herbal bites. Hands down one of the best dishes} — northern thai herbal salad with carrot, parsnip, white tumeric, betel leaf, basil, lime leaf, lemongrass, sawtooth, fried shallots, cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, dried shrimp, ground pork, and thai chilies in a mild coconut milk dressing.

Pok Pok Ribs and Half Bird

Pok Pok Ribs and Half Bird

Sii Khrong Muu Yaang {ribs that kick Texas BBQ’s butt. yes, really! probably my second favorite dish} — Carlton farms baby back ribs marinated in whisky, soy, honey, ginger and thai spices. Slow roasted and served with two spice dipping sauces.

Kai Yang {signature house specialty: half bird with a kick} — Charcoal rotisserie roasted natural game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro served with spicy sweet and sour and tamarind dipping sauces.

Pok Pok Thai Sausage

Pok Pok Thai Sausage

Sai Ua Samun Phrai {holy moly this sausage is so good — no, no this was my favorite!} — Chiang Mai sausage with herbs. Burmese curry powder and aromatics. Charcoal grilled and served with Naam Phrik Num {spicy green chile dip!} Khaep Muu {Thai pork rinds} and steamed crudites {how civilized}.

Da Chom’s Laap Meuang {mouth is on fire, thank God for sticky rice and the cooling plate of herbs that were completely foreign to me, but had me munching like a panda bear}. This dish was learned from Da Chom, Andy Ricker’s friend’s father from a small Thai village. At age 84 he still makes this for his family. Northern Thai spicy hand-minced pork salad with aromatics {the panda herbs that ranged in flavors from fish to lemon — yes, fascinatingly fishy herbs}, herbs, cracklings and crispy fried shallots and garlic. {bottom two plates in image below}.

Pok Pok spread

Pok Pok Spread {Da Chom’s Dish Lower Right Two Plates}

The Skim: If you’re not afraid to travel for good food, then all you need is a subway card to Red Hook — as far as Pok Pok is concerned, it’s as good as a plane ticket to Thailand. We were in love with every single dish we ordered, so get adventurous and order what moves you. And be ready to wash everything down with a few quenching cocktails or suds — these dishes are not for the mild tastebuds. Loved it so much, it’s going on my Favor8 list.


8.ate@eight Favor8
Seal of Approval

Map127 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 923-9322
Reservations: Not Taken {but a delightful garden awaits} 

Outside the Pad Thai:
NYC Best: Tasty Times Square Thai @ Pongsri
NYC Best: Summer Sausage & Other Seriously Good Eats @ Summerstage

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Victory Garden: A Victorious Frozen Yogurt Twist

Salted Caramel and Pretzel Twist

It seems only appropriate after writing about my hot pollo alla diavola that I should now cool down your palate with a mouth-watering suggestion to try Victory Garden, a recently opened frozen yogurt shop that is churning out a new twist on an old favorite.  Everywhere you turn there is a frozen yogurt shop these days — ones where you can personally load up your bowl with as much yogurt and toppings as you want {and have no one to blame but yourself when it costs you $10}, chains that have developed a cult craving culture for a weird tartness that doesn’t at all remind me of dessert, and others that lure you in with the promise of being fat-free, while lining their walls with plexi-containers of sugary gummy candy. But that is neither here, nor there — the fact is, America loves FroYo.

While most ice cream or frozen yogurt shops start with cow’s milk to create their creamy confections, Victory Garden saw an opportunity to showcase a new kind of ‘scream, using fresh goat’s milk. The appeal? Goats eat a lot of greenery, which translates into a vitamin-rich milk. In addition to its health benefits, people with lactose intolerance have an easier time digesting goat milk than cow’s milk — victory for lactose intolerant lick-lovers!

But what really matters, is how it tastes. Victory Garden’s goat milk base is slightly tarter than what you would find from a traditional cone, but for someone who seeks savory sweets, that gets a big vote in my book. It’s still creamy and sweet, without being too much so. But the innovation does not stop there — inspired by traditional Middle Eastern dessert called dondurma, which often incorporates floral essences that are meant to please the palate and elevate one’s state of mind, Victory Garden’s flavors and toppings change with the seasons, and feature local favors that reflect the bounty of the earth. Hmmm, intriguing.

On tap: Victory Garden Herbal Blend, Orange Blossom Vanilla, Damascene Rose & Mastic, Lavender, Neroli Vanilla, Salted Caramel and Chocolate Rosemary to name a few. Unclear on which of these off-the-charts flavors would be the way to go for my first Victory Garden twist, I sampled the victory garden herbal blend — at first bite, you will know immediately that this no ordinary treat. It smelled and tasted like a beautiful little pot of bright, summery herbs. In the end I went with the salted caramel with a pretzel topping — yes I really do fall in the savory camp. It was light, crunchy, sweet & salty, delightfully refreshing and as promised, pleasing to the palate. Victory achieved.

The Skim: Can’t eat cow’s milk based ice cream?  Looking for inspired flavors to excite your regular frozen yogurt habit?  Victory Garden is your winning ticket back to the world of frozen treats and will not disappoint your search for a world beyond vanilla.

Map: 31 Carmine Street

Need to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth:
SF Best: Bi-Rite Ice Cream Done Right
recipe goodness :: Alton Brown Does Bourbon in the Morning
Under the Bridge, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory Treat
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream

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Getting Local, Personal {and Naked} with Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

Local Naked Cowboy Oysters from the Long Island Sound

When I co-founded Freshocracy with my partners, we set out with the primary mission of making it easier for busy New Yorkers to get back in the kitchen and cook from scratch. But our secondary mission was to delight our customers with the simple and intense flavor of locally harvested and seasonal ingredients that taste like real food is supposed to taste. You can’t argue with a sweet, juicy field red tomato when it’s picked at its peak and comes straight from the farm to our customers’ tables.

Eating local or calling yourself a locavore may seem like a new trend or matter of awareness to most of you, but there are a few trailblazers in the New York food scene who have been upholding this food philosophy since before it was a coined phrase. Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 {an East Village locavore-centric artisanal beer and food den} and founder of The Good Beer Seal, is a man everyone should know. He is an avid supporter of local farmers {check out his menu or join a small-farm CSA with pick-ups at Jimmy’s}, an innovator in planning fantastically fun food fests {Cook Out NYC, Meatopia, Taste of Tribeca, The Great New York City Shuck ‘N Suck} and an educator in what it means to enjoy good food and good beer {local oysters and beer tastings every Wed/Thurs + other local-centric events}

In honor of Edible Manhattan’s Eat Drink Local Week, I chatted with Jimmy to understand what inspired his love and respect for all things local…and then slurped down a few Long Island Naked Cowboy Oysters and cold brews at the Jimmy’s No. 43 Eat Drink Local Oyster Event to fully appreciate how he spreads the local love.

While Jimmy grew up with a sensibility that food from local farms is the freshest, getting access to it wasn’t always as easy as going to Union Square on the weekend with your resuable bags. It wasn’t until Jimmy opened his first restaurant, Mugsy’s Chow Chow, in 1994 that he started going to the greenmarket to shop, but even then the market was smaller and his menu wasn’t entirely dedicated to local ingredients. In 2002, with his lease running out he renamed the restaurant to Patio Bar and reinvented the menu to be more focused on the market. The result was amazing food, but there was still a disconnect between his diners’ undeniably positive reactions and their understanding of the local influence on their meals. In Jimmy’s words, “people thought it was weird.” The seminal moment in Jimmy’s locavore timeline came after he opened Jimmy’s No. 43 in 2005. Jimmy hired a new chef to go to the market five days a week to source their dairy, produce and meat from local purveyors. After setting a number of standards for their menu, Jimmy’s No. 43 was awarded Slow Food NYC’s Snail of Approval seal {an award recognizing quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of the City of New York.} Six years later, Jimmy’s continues to serve up an inspired menu that could only be made better by enjoying one of the many fine microbrews on his bar list. His local philosophy and New Yorker’s reception of it finally converged.

But just because Jimmy uses high quality, local ingredients, doesn’t mean his menu will put a large hole in your wallet. Jimmy very smartly works with farmers to select cuts they have excess supply of, keeping his costs low while helping these small producers sell their inventory. If his regular good food menu and good prices aren’t enticement enough to spend some time sipping beers and noshing at No. 43, then swing by on Wednesday or Thursday for $2 local oyster night. If you’re lucky, Eddie Oysters, the fastest shucker in the land, will be on hand to entertain and feed you. Oyster Trivia: don’t be afraid to slurp one too many of those slippery little suckers — they are only 10 calories a piece!

The thing I love about Jimmy is the casualness of the world he has created. It’s not about didactic local teachings, but enticing a community of diners and sippers with a consistently good local food and beer atmosphere. Lure them in with a stellar menu and fantastic food events and perhaps they will leave with a better understanding of what it means to Eat Drink Local. We at Freshocracy certainly hope so too!

Eddie Oysters Gettin' Naked

More Local Goodness:
Freshocracy {and yours truly} Featured on Good Food Jobs
Summer Lovin’ Me Some Oysters @Mermaid Oyster Bar
NYC Best: Purely Good Food & Wine

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