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Businesses in Docklands October 2012

02 Oct 2012

You can't knock Pok Pok

“Pok pok” is a Thai term to describe the sound of a pestle gently thumping spices in a granite mortar – a common background noise at the street eateries of Bangkok and throughout South-East Asia.

For business partners Ethan Chaikijkosi and Emily Lam, it was the perfect name for their new restaurant in Docklands, given the emphasis is on Thai street food.a

“I came up with the ‘street food’ menu concept because I believe a lot of Aussies have traveled to Thailand and realise that traditionally Thai food in Australia is quite different to what they got in Thailand,” Mr Chaikijkosi said.

“Especially with street food. We want to do good Thai street food.”

Mr Chaikijkosi has gone to great lengths to include genuine Thai ingredients.

“Our ingredients in our dishes are pretty much what you get in Thailand,” he said.

“I source our produce and many of the ingredients are hard to get, such as cherry egg plant in the curry. And acacia, which is very expensive. But that’s what genuine Thai food has.”

Pok Pok’s menu reads like a culinary tour of Thailand.

“I have all my favourite Thai dishes on my menu – a bit of everything,” Mr Chaikijkosi said. “North, south, northeast and middle – Bangkok – all have different cultures and different influences in terms of cooking.”

“South is influenced by Malaysia, north by Burma, and northeast by Laos. I want to capture the contrast, but keep a touch to it that is similar.”

“Remaining true to tradition, our pad thai comes with king prawn – no chicken or pork.  Massaman lamb curry is a southern influence and very popular at Pok Pok. So is crispy pork belly stir fry, and so on.”

Mr Chaikijkosi has found that Docklands office workers tend to have well-travelled taste buds.

“I find that people here are willing for a challenge; they have probably travelled to Thailand many times and know where we are coming from,” he said.

“They have had a good experience in Thailand and now want to do it here. Someone had to step up and raise the bar. I want to be a different Thai restaurant from the other 400 who would rather be doing the same thing.”

Mr Chaikijkosi, who came to Melbourne in 1995 to study architecture, returns to Thailand every year to visit family and to see what’s on the menu there.

“I find inspiration to expand my knowledge of food, and what we can do differently here in the future,” he said.

Pok Pok is licensed and has an upstairs bar. Breakfast is simple and healthy with cereal, free-range eggs and toast, with Sensory Lab coffee and La Marzocco espresso machine.

Booking has become essential for lunch at Pok Pok, and the stream of take-away orders have also kept the woks sizzling and the mortar-and-pestles pok poking. The restaurant is now also does dinner on Thursdays, Fridays and

Saturdays.

“We have up to 10 staff on busy days,” Mr Chaikijkosi said. “We now offer catering for functions, and to host functions we have seating for up to 80.”

“I try to teach younger staff about Thai culture, such as respect for elders, etc.”

Business partner Emily is kept busy with front of house, Ethan’s wife May helps out with the serving, while May’s parents run the bar.

“At home, we tend to eat out – no set place, we try different things, to get ideas. French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Japanese – we eat everything,” Mr Chaikijkosi said.

Pok Pok is at 801-803 Bourke St, and is open Monday-Wednesday 7am-4pm, Thursday-Friday 7am-10pm and Saturday 6pm-10pm.

Call 9620 4580, or visit http://www.pokpok.com.au

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