Malachi, over on PortlandFood.org, posted about a new Thai place (including the menu, see link), just a hut for now, over on SE Division. They have a small menu, only seven entrees, which include green papaya salad, khao soi, pork sateh, roasted game hens, and combinations of these items. From the descriptions, I had to try it.
I got the khao man som tam ($5.95): papaya pok pok (ie, green papaya salad with tomatoes, long beans, thai chile, lime, tamarind, dried shrimp, fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, and peanuts made to order in the pok pok) served with steamed coconut rice, sweet shredded pork and fried shallots.
Both the green papaya and the beans had a nice crispness to them. The tomatoes were smaller, perhaps the size of a golf ball, and halved. The dried shrimp were absent (I made up for it with a bag of shrimp chips), but it had a nice flavor overall. The dressing was pounded and mixed in the pok pok, a large (like gallon or two) mortar and pestle right before service. It was a well-balanced dressing, sweet, sour, salty, and fishy. It was moderately spicy. I would have added some chiles if I were making it for myself. A very good green papaya salad.
And then they "kicked it up a notch" by adding the coconut rice and sweet shredded pork with fried shallots. Mmm. The coconut rice was loose, not sticky. I was hoping it was sticky because I was eating it in the car with my hands having forgot to grab a plastic fork. The coconut flavor was subtle, a foundation and aroma for the rice like cardamon in Indian basmati, not something to overwhelm the salad or the pork. Just as it should be. The pork itself was terrific -- tender, caramelly sweet and a little tangy.
Pok Pok, for now, is just a hut with a covered, unheated area. It looks like they have one of those propane heat "lamps" that they could use in the future. And next door is a house that in 6-8 months is going to be a full bar/restaurant.
I'll probably be back tomorrow to try more. They're open only until 8 pm, btw, and will be closed Th-Su this week.
3226 SE Division