The Isaan-style papaya salad at Pok Pok NY delivers on the promise of ecstatic pummeling that Thai food should dole out but rarely does, stateside. Helpless halves of flat salted black crabs the length of an index finger seem to claw their way out from under a pile of julienned papaya, bruised tomato halves, and inch-lengths of crunchy long bean. It’s all drenched in a fiery, garlicky, muddy dressing that, trust me, you don’t want to accidentally spill on your shirt. With enough clingy capsaicin to cause heart palpitations and enough fishy funk to shame the Gowanus, there isn’t a single dish more flavorful in the entire city. Not for chickens! (Unless said chickens are marinated, grilled, and served with sauce-sopping sticky rice.) Makes me want to eat until I burn a hole in my esophagus.
Warning: After eating, everything else in the world seems about as bland as crustless Wonder bread for a few days.