Who said non-alcoholic drinks are safe? It's 7:30 p.m. at Whiskey Soda Lounge and I'm sucking down limeade without regard for the brain freeze that will follow. May my cranial health be damned — I'm quelling the pain of Manila clams with chiles. The metallic sting of the shellfish, the porky wallop of the broth, and the punch of the peppers are perfectly balanced — albeit at nuclear warfare levels of balance. So relief is crucial. The limeade lasts me a good five minutes, while the caffeinated Thai iced tea is gone in one. And I won't fall asleep until four in the morning.
Our party is silent. We're coping with the spice and watching the Stanley Cup Finals on the big flatscreen. Snacks are coming out fast, less then 10 minutes after ordering. There's dried and grilled squid, as chewy as jerky and with 10 times the flavor of fresh calamari. There's flank steak with phrik khaa chile paste, intensely tender and slightly bland. Then there's the waiter. He comes over and tells us that Pok Pok NY — the larger sister spot next door — is ready for us. Yep, this is only the beginning, because you just spent your 60-minute wait for a dinner table by having a separate, smaller dinner, at an actual table, watching sports. This is what I call ideal.