Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • [MUSIC]

  • My family kind of has a bit of a,

  • an addictive personality disorder.

  • Like, my, my brother went through fucking free base

  • time and my dad was a hard core alcoholic.

  • I think he's one of the only people I've ever met

  • who was literally addicted to pot.

  • You know, we've all had our addictions and

  • I think that I've become addicted to

  • various things over my life.

  • And they tend to not be substances, but pastimes.

  • [MUSIC]

  • I got into rock climbing and I kind of

  • became obsessed with rock climbing for awhile.

  • That's all I wanted to do for about two years.

  • I was real into traveling long before that.

  • So just kind of spent my,

  • you know, just traveled for like four years.

  • And then I got really into playing in bands and

  • I really like dedicated my life to that.

  • I was really into it.

  • [MUSIC]

  • So when the Thai food thing came around,

  • you know, I really didn't think that

  • opening Pok Pok was gonna be it.

  • [MUSIC]

  • I figured that I'd open Pok Pok and

  • I could live in the house that,

  • that the restaurant was in.

  • And everything would be groovy.

  • [MUSIC]

  • I do well enough that I could afford to go and

  • live in Thailand for

  • three months of the year and hang out, and

  • go back and have a, a way of making a living.

  • Of course, that didn't quite go as planned.

  • You know, when I finally came up for

  • air after opening the restaurant three years

  • later, I think that's kind of where I was like,

  • yeah, you know,

  • I think Thai food is what I wanna do forever.

  • [MUSIC]

  • >> That's good.

  • >> Farang means blonde.

  • Like, English, American, and Australian.

  • Blond hair we call farang.

  • Actually, farang interested in cooking,

  • okay, it's common.

  • But farang who pay more attention in

  • Northern Thai food, strange.

  • Well, because Northern Thai food very spicy.

  • And, the ingredients totally different with

  • Middle Thai or Bangkok style.

  • So, anytime when this is farang like entry,

  • having very spicy one.

  • We would say, huh, how come you could eat like

  • very spicy food, and he laughing.

  • How come farang could cook not in Thai and with

  • an authentic, and how come farang long line.

  • >> I don't think anyone had ever heard of him

  • before Pok Pok.

  • I had friends who lived in Portland tell me

  • about this white guy, has like a little place and

  • you can get this like, Thai roast chicken.

  • And I was like

  • that sounds like some bullshit.

  • But then I heard more and more about it,

  • and I'm like oh, this guy seems to

  • be doing something incredible.

  • >> Unless you had spent time in Chiang Mai

  • in Thailand.

  • Now remember he had been backpacking there for

  • 20 years, he spoke the language.

  • >> Is it 125 baht?

  • >> Yes.

  • >> What he did, and I think,

  • you know, what was so fascinating, was he

  • brought a repertoire here that almost no one

  • had seen unless you were native to Thailand.

  • >> Here are the bowls for Khanom Jiin.

  • For this dish,

  • it is now difficult to find in Thailand.

  • >> The thing that I find really interesting about,

  • like, Thai restaurants in the States.

  • There's so much divide between like,

  • it's like us and them.

  • There's so much,

  • the divide, between the people who are coming to

  • the restaurant and whoever's cooking.

  • It might be a sort of an immigrant thing.

  • I have my food but

  • I'm gonna cook what I think is palatable.

  • My family opened up their spot in 1982.

  • I think something that just happened out of

  • necessity.

  • You know, like my

  • dad was in LA at the time working as a banker.

  • Like, working off a loan from this bank that put

  • him through college.

  • He decided to just open up a place, because there

  • wasn't something, it was, it was as simple as that.

  • At one point in this country you know,

  • having something like pad Thai was new,

  • it was altered, or adjusted in a way to fit

  • the sort of audience that was coming.

  • Is the menu like what we, or

  • what my family would eat at home or in Thailand?

  • Not really is the answer.

  • >> A lot of the Thai immigrants who came here

  • like 30, 40 years ago and opened restaurants,

  • they did it for commerce,

  • you know, not because they were interested in

  • spreading their culture or anything.

  • They had to make a living.

  • If you can take a bunch of these noodles,

  • a handful of fucking bean sprouts and

  • a bunch of poached chicken breasts, and

  • some peanut butter.

  • >> Right. >> And some ketchup and

  • make fucking Pad Thai that they buy for

  • $9 for a giant plate that takes you

  • like two seconds to make.

  • Why would you make this?

  • Like I get it.

  • What we're making is

  • a green chili dip called nempriknum.

  • I mean it looks just like the shit you

  • get in Chiang Mai.

  • >> Mm-hm. >> I didn't have to

  • do anything to it to make it better.

  • Fucking rotten fish is delicious.

  • >> It smells so good.

  • >> A little floral.

  • Also, a little disgusting.

  • >> It's delicious.

  • >> When Pok Pok came along,

  • it was a huge surprise.

  • It still is a huge surprise to

  • a lot of the Thai community.

  • They asked me why I do what I do.

  • How can you do that?

  • And they say, can, can farang eat like that, and

  • I say, I say,

  • yes of course they can eat like that.

  • They say [FOREIGN], but can they eat hot?

  • Yes, they can.

  • And I tell them a list of the dishes that we make

  • and they're like, oh.

  • >> Yeah this menu is different.

  • A lot of other Thai

  • restaurants don't have it.

  • You know what, Andy's is about the bridge.

  • To send a message to the American people.

  • And teach them how to eat it.

  • >> All the dishes are there.

  • Like, you go to Pok Pok and

  • all the dishes are killer.

  • They taste as

  • they would taste wherever they're from.

  • But he has the sensibility of a Thai

  • person, or the energy, or the sort of palate.

  • He's able to understand the context of

  • eating these foods the same way,

  • you know, a Thai person understands it.

  • He's a farang, but

  • he's as Thai as like any of my hick cousins.

  • >> We're gonna talk about it first, and

  • then you guys are gonna taste it.

  • And then you're gonna ask me

  • questions about the dishes, okay?

  • You guys that have the calpon go ahead and

  • start mixing it up and

  • passing it around and tasting it.

  • Hun chow or breakfast, morning food.

  • Thailand, typically at the markets is

  • where you find the best jok and palpon.

  • This is a typical morning soup.

  • It's filling but it doesn't drag you down.

  • Okay, guys,

  • we're gonna be eating a lot of food tonight.

  • Just think about we,

  • we have a huge menu to go through.

  • This is just the first menu item.

  • We got another 20 things to eat.

  • Take a bite, analyze it, call it good.

  • >> How long-

  • >> And wait, oh, oh, oh, wait, wait,

  • I didn't take a picture of this stuff so

  • that we have something to work off of.

  • >> I admire somebody who's like

  • a dog with a sock.

  • Like, that's, that's Andy Ricker.

  • My name is Karen Brooks.

  • I am the food editor and

  • critic for Portland Monthly magazine.

  • I have really taken a huge interest in him.

  • I like obsessed people.

  • I'm like my subjects.

  • This is my Andy Ricker dossier.

  • >> Oh wow. >> To

  • show you I have been covering the man.

  • >> Uh-huh.

  • >> Since he first opened his shack in 2006.

  • I don't think anyone had ever interviewed him.

  • Okay here, so I asked him, you know,

  • why does he go to all of this trouble?

  • >> God, damn it.

  • It's just become very, very

  • fucking apparent that I'm gonna have to come in and

  • retrain everybody on how to

  • make this god damn salad today.

  • >> I said, you could buy pre-made curry paste.

  • You could buy coconut milk.

  • And he says, the thing is,

  • 90% of the people that go to Thai restaurants

  • wouldn't care if you did the extra steps.

  • So it's way easy to sell cheap food and

  • still make a profit.

  • Ultimately you're in business to

  • make a profit.

  • So why am I doing this?

  • Because I'm crazy.

  • Andy shows just how far obsession can go.

  • [MUSIC]

  • >> At this point, I have, seven restaurants.

  • One of them isn't quite open.

  • I'm bicoastal these days.

  • I live pretty much half the time in Portland and

  • half the time in New York.

  • I'm kind of used to it now.

  • I, I, at first,

  • I thought it might be a little bit difficult,

  • but, it's just like, waking up in

  • one city is just like waking up in the other.

  • My life is the same aside from the bed I sleep in.

  • [MUSIC]

  • Come on in.

  • We have number one.

  • >> Uh-huh.

  • >> And number 16 and

  • also the fried dumpling please.

  • I mean these things are like,

  • these are delicious.

  • I end up at this place couple times a week,

  • when I'm in town.

  • Often it's like, I'll get into town and

  • the flight'll be late, and

  • I'm tired, and instead of like going out and

  • doing something, I'll just come over here and

  • grab something to eat, and go back home.

  • Dana, what's tomorrows schedule look like?

  • >> The only the thing on the schedule's just

  • the moving, starting at 9.

  • >> Right. >> Until indefinite.

  • And then at 7:30.

  • >> You know literally I, I get the feeling that

  • if I hadn't brought Dana on when we did,

  • I'd probably be so paralyzed that I wasn't,

  • wouldn't be able to do anything.

  • It was what was starting to happen.

  • It's like, basically I was getting so

  • overwhelmed with everything that I

  • kind of, I would sit there and

  • stare at my computer