As Jessica, Sophia, Justin and I walked to Pukk Pukk to meet Lily and Steve, we kept cracking jokes about the name.  Were we going to be ill?  Would the food taste like hockey sports equipment?  We realized that the name is likely a reference to Phuket, Thailand (often spelled Pukket), from where the cuisine is inspired (I’d guess the name is pronounced “pook”.  But still, laughs abounded.

Pukk’s motto is “eat more greens” and their food is vegetarian Thai.  The menu is filled with dishes that include duck, chicken, and steak.  But they are all the soy-fake-meat versions.  I don’t mind fake meat, what I mind is that they call it duck, chicken, etc.  Find a different name.  They taste good, but taste nothing like the real thing.  Moving on.

As is often the case, the appetizers were better than the entrees; and we tasted most of the menu.

Chicken Nugget

The Chicken Nuggets were fried soy chicken balls with a sweet chili sauce. This was Pukk meets McDonald’s (across the street and up a block). While the plump, soy chicken was a bit rubbery, the outside was superbly crispy and the sauce with essentially Thai ketchup. These are addicting, I popped almost half a plate myself. Everyone (except me) agreed these were the second best appetizer… I thought they were the best! We had two plates worth.

Minimalist Dumpling

Everyone’s favorite (and my second favorite) was a daily special: the Minimalist Dumplings. These philosophical treats were something like less-fried versions of samosas: fried dumplings with chives, corn, crispy noodles, and mixed greens in massaman sauce. Again, we went back for more and had two plates worth.

Spicy Spring Roll

The Spicy Spring Rolls were very good as well. Fried wraps of vermicelli noodle, onion, basil, and mushroom with pineapple sauce. They had a little heat that was perfectly offset by the sweet sauce. Our only thought was that there should have been more sauce.

Curry Thai Panacake

The Curry Thai Pancakes were quite nice. The pancakes were reminiscent of Chinese Scallion Pancakes, without the scallions. The sauce was something like green curry / massaman curry with little soy croutons in it to add some body. There was way more sauce than necessary, so we held on to it and used it later for rice and other dishes. We really liked it.

Soft Green Rice Crepe

The Soft Green Rice Crepes were ok, but not quite as exciting as the other apps. The flavor was good, but the ketchup-based fish sauce substitute was overpowering. If the dish had 75% less sauce, we would’ve liked this one. The soft crepe was perfect over the plentiful filling of soy chicken, radish, and peanuts.

Indy Roll

Overall our least favorite was the Indy Roll. It wasn’t bad, per se, but just boring. Cucumber, soy duck, noodle with custard tamarind sauce and spicy yellow mustard… but not balanced and no clear point.

Papaya Salad

As if eight appetizers weren’t enough to start, we also ordered a Papaya Salad. It wasn’t as spicy as some similar salads I’ve had, but it had a decent sauce and the papaya and carrots were finely shaved. Nothing special here either.

Spicy Corn Noodle

Our favorite entree was one of the first to hit the table. This might be a good point to note that the service was quite good. Everything came fast and our requests for this or that were quickly serviced. Back to the Spicy Corn Noodle. Everyone at the table raved about how the broad rice noodle was cooked perfectly. It was soft and had just the lightest al dente bite to it. The dish itself had broccoli, corn, tomato, with chili basil sauce and had a nice flavor, but wasn’t over powering.

Spicy Eggplant Tofu

The Spicy Eggplant and Tofu was rockin’! The tofu was thinly sliced and fried crisp. The eggplant was nice and saucy without being oily. The onions, basil, and spicy garlic sauce were delicious.

Duck Basil

The Duck Basil was interesting, but sort of a miss. The soy duck pieces were small and crisp, however, I thought they had an off, grill taste, something like a gassy, propane flavor. Combined with onions, bell peppers, and chili-basil sauce, it was a decent dish.

Market Rice

The Market Rice was nothing special, it wasn’t bad, just bland.

Yellow Curry Fried Rice

The Yellow Curry Fried Rice was more of a let down, mostly because I had higher hopes. It was just as bland as the Market Rice, but at least it was architected.

Gravy Noodle

The Gravy Noodles were pretty lousy. Skip this one if you go. They have no taste and are soupy.

Emerald Spaghetti

Another special for the day was the Emerald Spaghetti. It was such a weird combination of marinated soy chicken breast, avocado, bamboo shoots, basil, bell pepper in green curry. Steve joked that it was California Thai fusion. The avocado had some weird seasoning, but, honestly, by the end of the meal, we were so full it didn’t matter much.

Overall we give Pukk two thumbs up. It’s small and uncomfortable inside (seriously, the green chairs are insanely narrow and the rubber mats will make your butt fall asleep). The decor is hideous, we all felt like we were eating in someone’s bathroom. But the prices are very good ($4 per app and $7-9 for entrees). And the food, well, if six people clearing 15 dishes doesn’t speak for itself, I’m not sure what will. If you’re in the neighborhood, give it a shot.

posted by Lon at 01:45 PM Filed under Asian, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.