The Northern Thai street-food-inspired fare at Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon, has long impressed natives, critics, and the James Beard Award committee alike. It's given Chef Andy Ricker the support to take his show on the road (Ricker opened two places in New York City last year, Pok Pok Ny and Phat Thai). So far, San Francisco remains Pok Pok–free, but a recent Chowhound discussion pondered the local alternatives.
The original Larkin Street location of Lers Ros is a Chowhound favorite, ranked high for authenticity and its Thai herb sausage, but doesn't quite hit the Pok Pok mark. The self-described "Americanized Oriental" dishes at Mission Chinese Food don't technically resemble Pok Pok's, though the vibrant flavors and casual, offbeat vibe feel vaguely similar.
Fans of Pok Pok's papaya salad might want to check out the Sunday buffet at Wat Mongkolratanaram in Berkeley, where a spicy version comes with tiny, crunchy crabs.
Another candidate is Zen Yai, which now offers a late-night Thai street food menu after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, vulber says. The menu is in Thai, so be prepared with a translator and/or a sense of adventure.
Lers Ros [Tenderloin]
730 Larkin Street, San Francisco
Mission Chinese Food [Mission District]
2234 Mission Street, San Francisco
Wat Mongkolratanaram [East Bay]
1911 Russell Street, Berkeley
Zen Yai Thai Restaurant [Tenderloin]
771 Ellis Street, San Francisco
Discuss: Anything like Pok Pok in the Bay?