North Beach is home to great bars and of course a slew of flashy, if-not-always-palatable, Italian fare. If you live in this neighborhood you know you’ve gotta poke around to find local spots with consistently delicious and affordable food in what is a notoriously-touristy part of town.

I am part-Italian and from New York. So when I want Italian cooking around here, I usually go no further than my own kitchen. But when I venture to eat out, I hunger for meals that I have no business attempting to cook within my own domestic confines. Thai Food, for example, is a perfectly delectable cuisine that I prefer leaving to the experts.

Lucky for me, the folks at Tuk Tuk Thai Cafe 2 – on the corner of Columbus and Union – have a PH.d in P-a-d. I elect to support any restaurant that’s also a sequel. Compounded by my irrational fixation with all things alliterative, this place was sure to have me hooked.

Photo credit: Kevin Y.

A surprisingly clean and open kitchen in this small, simple locale cranks out authentic Thai specialties like they’re going out of style. But deliciousness is never going out of style, neither is delivery…and to anyone in this part of SF, it’s comforting to know that you can have this caliber of ethnic cuisine brought directly to your stagnant, lazy American ass.

Most recently I compiled a crew of 8-and-a-half hungry and (barely) upstanding individuals to do just that. And we were not disappointed. For under a hundred dollars – all included – we gorged ourselves on one of the most epic spreads of southeastern Asian flavors ever assembled on one table, in the modern era.

Highlights included Peak Gai, the venerable, breaded and pork-stuffed chicken wing. Hoi Jor, a deep fried delicacy of crabmeat and ground chicken. Pad See Ew, the legendary drunken stir-fried rice noodle…and of course the dish that put the Tuk-Tuk in Thai, the creamy and savory beef Panang curry.

Go here, now. (415) 445-7839. You can tell them that The Japhman sent you, but that’s not going to get you any preferential treatment, whatsoever.