Popping out of the 74th Street-Broadway station in Jackson Heights, chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok was ready to take us on a Thai market tour around the neighborhood. We traipsed up and down the aisles of a few markets specializing in Thai products as he pointed out the ones he likes (frozen coconut milk) and those he really doesn't care for (canned curry pastes; "don't ever buy them, please.").
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Andy Ricker's Pok Pok Wing on the Lower East Side reopened last Friday as a Pad Thai joint, serving the popular noodle dish along with a few other items.
Andy Ricker's Pok Pok has us blown away, and features ingredients we've never seen before, even in the city's best Thai restaurants. Take a brief tour of his pantry after the jump.
To say that New Yorkers have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Pok Pok—the Brooklyn branch of James Beard Award-winning chef Andy Ricker's Northern Thai phenomenon in Portland, OR—is like saying that children of the 70's were eagerly awaiting the return of Star Wars to the big screen. The difference is, of course, that in this case, Ricker delivered, and how.
Chef Andy Ricker's face scrunches when describing a chewy mushroom native to northern Thailand. His voice articulates meaty flavors versus bland, and his hands illustrate the way to most authentically execute a balanced Thai meal. We chatted with him about how Thai food became the thing, what authentic Thai food is, and what he wants us to learn from it.