The pork belly has loads of crunch. Photo: Eddie Jim
WHERE AND WHAT
Ah, Docklands, the thorn in Melbourne's side, the stain on its psyche. The architecture (I use the term loosely) is a neo-Brutalist abomination but the second wave of food businesses springing up is bringing new life and a glimmer of hope to the area. You just have to pop by Pok Pok Street Food to see all is not lost.
WHERE TO SIT
Pok Pok is usually chockers... best to book. Photo: Eddie Jim
On a dreary Monday lunchtime, this Thai cafe on the main Docklands drag is chockers with office workers; by all reports it's the same on Saturday night, which makes it important to book if you're schlepping across town. It's a retro-industrial space that talks to the design-loving heart of the average inner-city dweller: polished concrete, communal tables, graphic street scenes on the walls and outbreaks of colour in the candy-pink metal stools.
The beer selection runs from Chang and Singha to James Squire and Hoegaarden; there's a short selection of house wine, and non-imbibers can hit the coconut juice or coffee beans from Sensory Lab.
Green papaya salad is part of Pok Pok's pan-Thai menu. Photo: Eddie Jim
An exclusive Life & Style survey found adding the words ''street food'' to an eatery's name makes it 50 per cent more attractive to the average consumer. Pok Pok Street Food - the first bit is an onomatopoeic take on a mortar and pestle - has a butch pan-Thai menu that includes the marquee classics (pad Thai, tom yum soup, green papaya salad) and less ubiquitous dishes with a regional bent. Mains, none of which pass the $14.50 mark, are divided into curries, wok and rice-noodle dishes. Mussel omelet padded out with bean shoots - a southern Thai classic - is fat, golden and a little charry; massaman curry constitutes a single long-cooked lamb shank in a totally moppable coconut-based sauce brimming with cashews, roasted shallots and potatoes. A tamarind king prawn curry is too watery to really convey the sour heat you're looking for in such a dish, but I loved the soft spring rolls, flapped around poached chicken and tofu, with thin slices of omelet and a subtle, sweet tamarind relish. Desserts are as street as Khao San Road: fried roti filled with condensed milk and sugar, or banana and Nutella.
What feels like the entirety of the area's sizeable suit brigade.
A south-east Asian spring in the Docklands step.
- 03 9620 4580
- Cuisine - Thai
- Opening Hours - Monday to Wednesday 7am-4pm; Thursday and Friday 7am-10pm; Saturday 6-10pm
- Author - Larissa Dubecki