Favorite Dishes #68: Pok Pok’s Muu Paa Kham Wong


Andy Ricker, chef/owner of Pok Pok Ny (117 Columbia Street, Brooklyn; 718-923-9322), is a genius — he almost single-handedly reinvented the American idea of Thai cuisine. Once upon a time, most stateside restaurants served watered-down curries and overly sweet pad Thais, but these days determined eaters can find sweat-bursting, funky-hot Isaan-style papaya salad and wings coated in fish sauce much more readily.

Everything on the menu at Pok Pok Ny is worthy of a spot on our 100 Favorite Dishes, but the unsung hero is the Muu Paa Kham Wong ($18). The dish begins with boar collar, which is rubbed with garlic, pepper, and coriander root, brushed with seasoning sauce and sugar, then grilled over charcoal. When it’s done, the meat is sliced thin and drenched in a briny, mouth-searing sauce made from lime, fish sauce, garlic, chiles, and coriander leaf — the result is only for serious spice lovers. Iced mustard greens are served on the side for a crisp textural contrast to the rich meat, and also for the sake of authenticity — Thais believe that protein must be balanced with vegetables for nutrition and proper digestion.

The dish is typical pub grub or drinking food in Thailand, as it has all the customary elements: extreme spice, chewy texture, and salt. “All those things make you want to drink more beer or booze, which in turn makes you want to eat more of that kind of dish,” says Ricker. “They go hand in hand.” We’ll most certainly raise a glass (and some chopsticks) to that.

The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera. Follow @forkintheroadVV

Here’s our countdown up to now:
#100: Laminated Blueberry Brioche at Dominique Ansel Kitchen
#99: Egg Shop’s Golden Bucket Fried Chicken
#98: Ramen Lab’s Torigara Shoyu
#97: Cannoli at Ferdinando’s
#96: Breakfast Sandwich at Dimes
#95: Banana Royal at Eddie’s Sweet Shop
#94: Fletcher’s Burnt Ends
#93: Almayass’s Mante
#92: Empellon Taqueria’s Fish Taco
#91: El Rey’s Sardine Tostada
#90: General Tso’s Pig’s Head at the Cannibal
#89: The Vegetarian at Meat Hook Sandwich Shop
#88: The 21 Club’s Creamy Chicken Hash
#87: Deep-Fried Olives at Via Carota
#86: Pougi at Loi Estiatorio
#85: Shelsky’s Hot Pastrami Sandwich
#85: Pearl & Ash’s Smoked Bread with Chicken Butter
#84: Gluten-Free Pizza at Rossopomodoro
#83: Perry St’s Chocolate Pudding With Candied Violets
#82: Whit’s End’s ‘Fuckin’ Bluefish Dip’
#81: Morgenstern’s Salt and Pepper Pine Nut Ice Cream
#80: Levain Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie
#79: Delmar Pizzeria’s Pizza
#78: Cafe Cluny’s Avocado Toast
#77: Brooklyn Star’s Cinnamon Bun
#76: Pork Belly Cotton Candy at Carnem
#75: Ippudo’s Pork Buns
#74: Mission Chinese Food’s Oil-Cured Anchovies
#73: Johnnycakes at LoLo’s Seafood Shack
#72: The Starving Artists Steak at Belle Reve
#71: The Spotted Pig’s Gnudi
#70: Xi’an Famous Foods’ Tiger Vegetable Salad
#69: Crème Brûlée Truffle at Kee’s Chocolates