Well, I thought Ricker might be pulling out the stops since he decided to come play in LA, but it doesn’t look like it.
I am stunned at how popular Pok Pok is, yet the chatter outside the place is mostly disappointed diners.
But wow. Coming in at easily 2.5-3x the cost of any of Thai in LA, the food is nowhere near as good. The famous chicken is just ok, sort of dry, and relatively flavorless. Compared to the miraculous version at Isaan Station for about 1/3rd the price, it’s impossible to understand the point of it. Without the Ricker name it would just be an extremely forgettable dish at a thai restaurant no one ever talked about in LA.
The same seems true of most of the dishes. Everything is just completely unremarkable. Maybe the only exception is his spin on cha ca la vong, which is at least kind of interesting with the fermented pinapple sauce, and unusually slick noodles.
The cocktail program is also just ok, it feel really limited overall, and the $12 cocktails seem really weak compared to, say, Osso’s wonderfully creative cocktails that are the exact same price, and Osso is in a pricier district.
The one redeeming quality of the place is that it is quiet enough to have a conversation in… but most LA thai restaurants outside of Night + Market Song are quiet anyway. (Night + Market Song, btw, feels like it’s light years ahead of Pok Pok in terms of their ability to elucidate thai flavors through their cooking, as I just ate there again last before this Pok Pok venture. A simple bowl of chicken noodle soup displayed more skill, and depth of flavor than anything at Pok Pok…).
Food also takes almost comically long to come out of the kitchen, which feels quite unusual for thai food in LA.
I left upset that I spent $50/pp for thai food, feeling sick for some reason (supposedly using better ingredients than average?), and scratching my head as to why Ricker opened in Los Angeles…
Anyone else feel this way?