Review: Tum Pok Pok is one of Atlanta’s newest Thai restaurants—and its best – Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia 2021-09-14 12:03:53 –

Clockwise from top left: Rapu Guy (lime and chili minced chicken), crab omelet, Isan sausage

Photo by Bailey Garrot

Editor’s Note: This is the first full-length restaurant review published in Atlanta for over a year, with a strong awareness of the risks that the coronavirus and its delta variants still pose. In light of the fact that a pandemic is underway, we follow safety guidelines set by health authorities and restaurants and wear masks when vaccinated and may protect you and others. It is advisable to fall generously. Also? Welcome back — and have a great meal.

For a long time, the best Thai food I found in Atlanta was similar to what Thai people actually eat on the street and cook at home, and was never served in restaurants. It was available at Wat Buddha Bucha Temple in Decatur. The center of the Thai and Lao community in Atlanta. I ate in the kitchen of the temple. There, worshipers unload food for monks and walk the grounds, mainly during major religious vacations, while vendors row dishes of a variety rarely found in local restaurants: Grilled sausages, sticky rice full of sugar cane, lively curry and more.

Atlanta has a share of Thai restaurants, from dime neighborhood stores to luxury stores on Orchid on My Plate, but in terms of food, they are usually indistinguishable from each other. Atlantans looking for more interesting global flavors often look for them on the Buford Highway, but Thai food has ever been awkwardly lacking in our most international corridor.At the opening earlier this year Tampokupoku Located in the same shopping center as the popular food terminal, BuHi finally got what it deserves. It’s an excellent Thai place that doesn’t settle for Western taste. Of course, it also benefits other parts of the city. The pop-up darling Atlanta market was a fun and permanent addition to our culinary scene when it made a leap into a physical store business in Summerhill in 2020, but with my money, Tampokpok is now Thai Neplus Ultra. It ’s Atlanta cooking.

Tum Pok Pok Owner Adidsara Weerasin

Photo by Bailey Garrot


Adisala Weerassin, who passes by Tam, and her husband, who she calls Poku, are both in their thirties. (The name of the restaurant is a combination of the owner’s nickname and the Thai onomatopoeia “pok pok”, which is reminiscent of the sound of a dairy stick hitting a dairy bowl when grinding pepper and spices to season the dish.) Tum Their vision for PokPok is completely modern.And — unlike the Weerassin family restaurant in Sandy Springs, it has a good reputation. Bangkok time— It does not include any of the usual filters intended to satisfy Westerners with cooking. Here you’ll find ingredients imported directly from Thailand, such as the spicy curry paste stored in a huge refrigerator, in a lively kitchen where Weerassin’s mother makes isan sausages and crispy rice balls.

Tum Pok Pok serves glutinous rice in small bags (pictured is pork skewers).

Photo by Bailey Garrot


The Tum Pok Pok menu is divided into two sections, “Isan” and “Very Thai”, both of which are fun to read and order in the same way. Isan is a region bordering Laos in northeastern Thailand, with foods that are usually less sweet than the rest of the country and rarely feature coconut cream. The most famous regional specialties are som tam (finely chopped raw green papaya seasoned with fermented fish sauce, lime, ginger and chili peppers) and larb, a meat salad often used in Lao cuisine. Both Tum Pok Pok come in many variations, with som tam containing a variety of ingredients such as salted crabs, crushed roasted peanuts, and light vermicelli.

Larb is minced pork or chicken seasoned with lime juice and eaten with glutinous rice and cabbage leaves with small fiery peppers. Glutinous rice is packed in a small bag, topped with crushed crispy curry rice balls, minced chicken, ginger, peanuts, green onions, and red onions in a gorgeous and complex rap kaotode. Isan’s attachment to meat is expressed by the sour grilled Isan sausage, Nosawan (a strip of sun-dried beef spicy like super tender jerky), and pork skewers.

My favorite on the “Very Thai” menu is Pad Thai Pok Pok, which is made from fresh rice noodles and topped with giant freshwater shrimp instead of the usual dry package. (A cheaper version made of pork hits the same soothing sour note.) Folded roti soaked in massaman curry and green mussels with lemongrass and basil scents come out of the kitchen right away. My only disappointment was the overly chewy grilled squid. Killer dishes from southern Thailand, the birthplace of Weerassin, are often slowly introduced as specials. Includes crab omelet, grilled mackerel with bamboo shoots and small Thai eggplants, and quackling (a dangerously hot and tasty ground pork dish with red curry paste and shaved McLutlime leaves).

Pad Thai with fresh rice noodles and giant freshwater prawn is also an outstanding dish.

Photo by Bailey Garrot


The ideal drinks to drink with Thai food are Thai iced tea (much less sweet here than other restaurants; some versions include lemon and lime and no condensed milk) and lager style. It’s beer. TumPokPok is a Thai food and Japanese brand. The selection of whiskey, bourbon, gin and tequila here is a rare and welcoming sight, as the Buford Highway is a street with few drinking scenes. Fans of Jameson Irish Whiskey (I’m alone) can order their favorite poison with cocktails such as the spicy Jameson Ginger Lime Drink.


Photo by Bailey Garrot


A chill bar area, a colorful market corner with typical Thai plastic toys and a variety of brick abracs, and other items of sentimental value (a small wooden shelf behind at Wheelasin’s grandmother’s house). Gives the dining room a living-feel. The huge 3D representation of the buffalo head pays homage to the beloved animal that relies on labor in the paddy fields.


Photo by Bailey Garrot


The sincere and modern approach adopted by the young team of Tum Pok Pok is the breath of fresh air in the city where Thai food was almost commonplace. This is an unrivaled Thai restaurant in Atlanta.

★★★ ★★
5000 Buford Highway, Chamblee

This article appeared in the September 2021 issue.

Back to top button