Pok Pok Street Food | Cafe de Kikaku
When it comes to planning group dinners, using group conversations via Whatsapp can sometimes give me the shits. Previous attempts to organise this meal fell through because my friends and I just couldn’t find a suitable date despite messaging back and forth for a few days. So I killed the conversation thread and waited till when we were physically together at Damo’s birthday one month later. There, I got everyone to look at their phone calendars and agree on a date where we all could go. We finally settled on the very Friday which happened to be Winter Solstice.
Cafe de Kikaku
20 Waterview Walk
Docklands, VIC 3008
03 9670 6828
Damo and I anticipated horrific Friday peak hour traffic getting into the city, so we carpooled in to share the ordeal. But strangely, traffic turned out to be smooth sailin’ that day… bleaaah! Early in the Docklands, we had an hour till our table was ready at Pok Pok. So we roamed the Dockland’s eerily quiet streets looking for a place where we could get out of the bitter cold and have a hot drink whilst waiting.
Hot Yuzu Honey 4.5 | Crumbed Sake Chicken 13.5
Crisp-fried Sake marinated Chicken cutlet coated w/ Chilli Creme, Furikake n tasty Tempura crunch
Cafe de Kikaku looked inviting, although it was quite amusing seeing outdoor heaters being used indoors. We stepped in, had hot yuzu honey teas and shared a delicious serve of fried sake chicken. The cafe serves reasonably priced shared dishes ala Izakaya style, and if that sake chicken dish was a good indication of its food quality, I’m pretty keen on coming back to try out more of the menu.
Pok Pok Street Food
But on to the main event!
Thai Milk Iced Tea 4 | Beer Chang 7
I had this meal with Fakegf, Ees, Littledeath, Damo and partner. It felt almost fortuitous that we got together the night of the shortest day of the year. This has been a pretty cold Winter… so a bit of company and good food with your friends definitely makes the dark evenings feel more tolerable.
Spicy Assorted Wild Mushroom Salad 13.5 Grilled organic shiitake, shimeji and enoki mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallot and roasted rice finished with fresh coriander and mint
But enough about the gloomy weather! Pok Pok seeks to bring the flavours of Thailand’s street food into your neighbourhood. We perused through the menu and decided on seven dishes to feed the six of us. The dishes came very quickly after we ordered, starting with this delightful salad-like appetiser of organic Asian mushrooms in an uplifting, mildly spicy dressing.
Wok Fried Angus Beef with Oyster Sauce 14.5 | Roast Pork Belly and Dry Green Peppercorn 13.5
“Gapi” Shrimp Paste Fried Rice 14.5 | Thai Crispy Mussel and Bean Sprout Omelette 14.5
Out of the rest of the dishes, the four pictured above did not quite hit the mark for me. They’re nice dishes in their own right with good quality ingredients used. But still, something felt a little lost in translation, and they lacked the street food ‘oomph!’ that I was hoping for.
The pork belly dish leant towards being overly salty while the Angus beef could’ve been more tender, and the mussel omelette was crispy but not tasty.
Spicy Drunken Noodles “Pad Kee Mao” 12.5 (Chicken)
Stir fried rice noodle with chilli and garlic paste, shimeji mushroom, young corn, crunchy green beans and green peppercorn finished with basil and red chilli
On the up side, the pad kee mao was a lovely dish! Beautiful wok charring with a sweetish, wonderful flavour and a gradual creeping heat from the chillies.
Jungle Curry 12.5
A unique style curry without coconut cream containing shimeji mushroom, baby corn, cherry eggplant, sugar snap peas and young peppercorn seasoned with galangale, chilli & basil
Our final dish, the jungle curry, sounded fascinating on the menu, but it turned out to be more like a spicy soup with vegetables. So it IS unique in that you don’t get a curry-like dish at all, but I wished we were warned when ordering that we were pretty much going to get a soup. However, I did enjoy how spicy it was… if you imbibed enough of it (not just a few spoonfuls), it really creeps up on you to the point where your ear canals feel like they’re on fire.
It’s nice exploring new places with your friends, and biggish groups means you get to taste more of the menu. I think the dishes at Pok Pok are designed for people who’re having one dish meals, but we still had a blast sharing and tasting a bit of everything. Overall, the food is of decent quality with some of the dishes missing the mark a little. I think the flavours could pack in a bit more punch.
But my main comment about Pok Pok was how the waitstaff kept whisking away our (not quite empty) dishes before we were done with them. That’s a pet peeve of mine because I quite often like to enjoy that last bit of sauce or vegetables left in the dish, and taking the dish away without asking is a tad inappropriate. Even if a restaurant is super busy (and it wasn’t that night), they still shouldn’t do that.