written by Julie Lee | photo courtesy of Fish Sauce
A well-earned national spotlight beams on Portland’s food scene, thanks in part to the Thai food uprising. The flame was fanned ten years ago when Andy Ricker opened Pok Pok to immediate fame. Thanks to subsequent successful knockouts (hello Langbaan,) foodies are descending on Portland from all over the country to see what the fuss is about. We had a top five Thai-breaker, so we humbly submit six of our current faves.
Andy Ricker shattered the blueprint for what Portlanders considered Thai food when he opened Pok Pok in 2005. Thai street food was then a radical and fresh idea, welcomed with open arms and mouths. Pok Pok’s success on SE Division ignited one of the country’s most visited restaurant rows. What started as a dream, an emptied bank account and a simple food cart is now a shelf full of accolades including James Beard’s Best Chef Northwest, a heralded cookbook and multiple locations in Portland, L.A., and New York.
Fish Sauce is hands down our favorite in the city that doesn’t require a reservation six months out. Unassuming but not understated, this is one of those places you can frequent daily without menu fatigue. With a NW Portland hipster vibe and the best Pho in town, Fish Sauce doesn’t just add to the Thai conversation, it revolutionizes it. Try the Ca Ri with shrimp.
The envy of restaurants everywhere. A mysterious location tucked behind the curtain of another Thai restaurant, PaaDee. Celebrated internationally as exquisite, exotic, authentic Thai, this is Langbaan. Akkapong Earl Ninsom dominates the Portland food conversation with a region inspired, ever changing, five-course tasting menu. The next opening is in August, so plan ahead, or press ahead and enjoy front of house PaaDee’s delicious dishes, artfully prepared and dished up for lunch and dinner without a six-month wait.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai
It’s so simple. Chicken, perfectly poached and presented with stock simmered rice, then served with a captivating sauce. Add fried chicken skin and a side of peanut sauce, and you’ve met heaven square on. Nong arrived in America from Bangkok more than a decade ago with $70 and a vision, and she’s now affectionately known as Portland’s Thai Food Queen.
609 SE Ankeny St. Suite C
SW 10th & Alder St.
411 SW College St.
Kinara Thai Bistro
Tucked behind Lincoln High School’s football field is a jewel in the crown of Portland’s Thai food movement. Each signature dish trumps the one before it, and the Holy Crab, Dungeness crab meat in pong ga ree sauce, is addictive. The ambience is cozy and Buddha inspired.
Thai Bloom puts an exclamation point on a more traditional Thai cuisine, with a modern, fresh twist. Here you’ll find your Pad Thai, but with succulent sweet crab, somewhat lighter on the noddles but deeper in ingredients. Its red curry has roasted duck and rambutan swimming in it. Our favorite, when available, is the drunken halibut in a garlic green peppercorn sauce. Thai Bloom has a stellar happy hour and two locations.
3800 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton
333 NW 23rd Ave., Portland