(This venue is closed.) This noodle shop retains the record-sleeve decor of its immediate predecessor, Pok Pok Wing, and swaps in an even more focused menu. Most items are variations on the namesake dish, which departs from its Americanized counterparts by stir-frying the rice noodles in rendered pork fat and by adding not only bean sprouts and crushed peanuts but also the likes of tamarind, dried shrimp, preserved radish, and palm sugar. This phat Thai ruam ($12) is further plumped with shrimp and pork. None of these ingredients overpowers the others; though one, then another, may rise to the fore, given its complexity the dish as a whole is exceptionally well-balanced.
Each pad Thai is prepared to order, within eyeshot, and (unless you're mad) consumed immediately thereafter, as it would be on a Bangkok side street. Theoretically, the baseline ingredients could be customized just like the add-ins — say, a tad less palm sugar, a little more tamarind — though perhaps only during less busy hours. If you attempt this experiment, tip accordingly, and report back.
Pok Pok Phat Thai
137 Rivington St. (Norfolk-Suffolk Sts.), Manhattan