Pok Pok shuttered by DOH, may reopen tonight

Pok Pok NY serves some of the best Thai food in New York City according to critics. The fish sauce chicken wings are extremely popular.
Pok Pok NY serves some of the best Thai food in New York City according to critics. The fish sauce chicken wings are extremely popular. Photo Credit: Johan Persson

Updated: see below.

On Friday night, Pok Pok NY was visited by the Department of Health, a most unwelcome guest in any restaurant — especially when said restaurant is one of the most popular in the city. Indeed, wait times exceeding 3 hours are expected at this Brooklyn eatery.

The Department of Health (DOH) inspected the new location of Pok Pok, located just a few doors down the sleepy Columbia Street block from their original location. The restaurant racked up 50 violation “points,” enough to shut it down.

According to the DOH website, Pok Pok NY amassed six “Sanitary Violations” including:

  • Food contact surface improperly constructed or located. Unacceptable material used.
  • Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
  • Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.
  • Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.

We have reached out to the DOH for clarification on these violations. On Pok Pok’s website, the problem is related to the restaurant’s outdoor charcoal BBQs. And if you’ve been to Pok Pok before, you know that’s where the delicious Kai Yaang Tua, or lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro stuffed hens, are cooked.

“The problem stems from our outdoor, covered cooking area where we keep our two charcoal BBQs. Until we can satisfy the city that we are compliant with DOB and FDNY code, in that the structure covering the BBQs is legal, we must remain closed,” the restaurant’s website says.

We reached out to chef and owner Andy Ricker and he told us his team has been working to get the restaurant open as soon as possible. Ricker said they are hoping to get another inspection late this afternoon, in order to reopen around 6 or 7 p.m. tonight.

Stay tuned as this story develops. And if you get to Pok Pok tonight, and it’s open, order an extra order of Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings for us. And if it’s still closed, you can get in line at Ricker’s Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street, and hope for best.

Update: The Department of Health has told us Pok Pok was closed “due to a public health hazard that could not be immediately corrected.”

“They bult an illegal structure in their backyard for charcoal grilling that was only partially enclosed, and the raw food kept outside for grilling was not protected from potential sources of contamination, such as rats, mice and birds,” wrote Levi Fisman, Deputy Press Secretary of the DOH in an email. “They also did not have permits from the Department of Buildings or the Fire Department to build this structure.”

In regards to the plumping, Fishman said that violation was in the kitchen.

“A drain line on the refrigeration unit was dropping water that was collecting in a pan. This standing water is a food source for vermin.”

Update 2: Pok Pok’s twitter account (@pokpokpdx) tweeted that the restaurant will be open tonight.