Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon

This restaurant is unlike any other Thai place in the U.S. First of all, you can't get pad Thai here. Second, the chef is not Thai; he's a white guy named Andy Ricker. Third, the restaurant is in Ricker's house and yard. More important, the food at Pok Pok is unforgettable. Ricker has spent years traveling and learning to cook in Thailand and loves northern Thai-style grilled street foods. My favorite is his rotisserie game hen, which is super-juicy with a crisp skin, served with a sweet, hot chile sauce and a tamarind sauce. Unlike many Thai restaurants in the States, where dishes often are oversweetened, Pok Pok serves fresh, clean-tasting food, and it has changed the way I think about Thai cuisine. —Jennifer Neumann, Scio, Oregon

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