Creating Fusion-Pok’s Art Opens in Kitty Hawk
By Kip Tabb –
When Pok’s Art opened its doors last Monday, the plan called for a soft opening. But word spread quickly that Chef Pok’s new restaurant was open and the line formed almost immediately.
“The first day I just wanted to take it easy and just get used to it,” Art Maliyam, Pok’s brother and a partner in the business says. “We got slammed on the first day.”
Pok’s Art is in the Dune’s Shops at MP 4.5 in Kitty Hawk, next door to Outer Banks Juice and Java. It’s small . . . just take out at this point, but the ideas that Pok Choeichom, his brother and mother, Aung—who is also a partner—have are big.
They’re starting off with a simpler menu, although even that is like a trip around the Asian countries of the Pacific Rim.
There are some of the Thai dishes that Pok’s family introduced the Outer Banks to when they opened the Thai Room almost 30 years ago. There are Chinese dishes; Vietnamese spring rolls; Korean bibimbap—a bbq pork with jasmine rice, pickled vegetables, and kimchee. There are some Hawaiian dishes from the time Pok spent in the Pacific Island state.
It may have been the Japanese robata bar Art stopped in when he was visiting California that was the beginning of the idea. Robata is a grilled style of cooking with the food served on a skewer. “One of the restaurants in San Diego had a cool robata bar, and Japanese sushi,” he recalls. “That’s where I came up with the idea. Why don’t we bring robata back to the Outer Banks. And we can do all the Asian stuff too.”
Many of the dishes are family recipes. “Most of the recipes came from my family. My mom, Thai and Chinese. Pok from when he was in Hawaii. I brought the robata.”
Plans call for Pok’s Art to become more adventurous, but that will come when Pok will be able to be at the restaurant full time. Right now he’s finishing up at the Brewing Station, where he’s still the chef through July 5th. He’ll also continue to consult though the summer.
“Once Pok gets here, he can throw some cool stuff on the special board. Some European mixed with Asian style. That kind of stuff,” Art says.
The name of the restaurant certainly calls attention to the creativity Pok has become known for, but it’s also a bit of a play on words—a way to call attention to Pok and his brother, Art, and a place where family recipes meet creative flair.