Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda Lounge

3226 SE Division

Pok Pok does not have an official happy hour. (At least not as far as I can tell.) But they do have good drinks and small plates...which is EXACTLY what most happy hours have. And so I decided that they needed to be included in the blog. (It's okay to break the rules every once in awhile, right?)

I'm not sure what led Pok Pok to its fame in the first place (besides the food, of course). I wish that I could say that I had been there before it got big. (Because it got REALLY big.) I assume that it only took one food review to make this place the top of everyone's "must try" list. By now, though, I'm guessing that it's been reviewed, pictured, or at least mentioned in hundreds of publications nationwide. It's that kind of place.

And it's grown to be so big that they actually had to move what used to be the adjoining Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street. Now instead of sitting at the bar to wait for your table, you can wait out the hour (or more) across the street. The Whiskey Soda Lounge opens for business at five and are happy to let you know when your table at Pok Pok is ready. They've got small plates (quite a few to choose from) and beverages, seating inside and out, and the place might just be enough if you are interested in the flavors of Pok Pok without the long waits.

What they don't have, though, is much to choose from if you are not a meat eater. Almost everything on the menu contains some sort of fish sauce or dried shrimp. I checked in with our server, though, and she was able to make a suggestion. I ended up with the deep fried green papaya salad (minus the dried shrimp). It had an interesting texture and came with a super yummy sauce. It wasn't something that I could have turned into dinner...but it was fun to share.

To drink I had the Rhubarb Blush. It was hot out and this sounded especially refreshing. It was made with gin, fresh lime and rhubarb bitters. It was not, however, the favorite at the table. Multiple glasses of the Mango Alexander were ordered during the short time we were there. I had one small sip and was completely impressed with the flavors. It's made with mango, fresh lime, coconut creme, and vodka. We all decided that this drink was the next to be recreated at home.

Next up is Pok Pok Noi or Ping or whatever else the Pok Pok people come up with. I wouldn't say that they are taking over...but it is nice to know that you can find one in almost every area of town.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Exceeds
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Nearly Meets

Pok Pok & Whiskey Soda Lounge


  1. I avoided Pok Pok for years. I've lived in Portland since 1999 and I even lived near Pok Pok on SE Division but was discouraged by the long longs and longer waits. I finally went a few months ago and the wait wasn't that bad (I think it was a Thursday night)--maybe 15 minutes. The food was fantastic! It's definitely a place for meat-eaters. I'd go back but probably not when it's super busy.