Life recently kept taking me to Fair Oaks. I’m not normally a fan of suburbs, but Fair Oaks has a certain homey cuteness, as well as a recognizable downtown, that make it palatable. Add to that proximity to the River and good hiking trails, and I’m quite willing to make the trip.
After a hike, I want food. My S.O. recommended the one good Thai place she knows of out there. The first thing I noticed about Takieng was the gleaming interior. The second was the abundance of elephant-themed sculptures (a Thai/GOP convergence? It is Fair Oaks) The third was the sulking teenager a few tables down (Yes, it’s embarrassing to be seen with your parents on a Saturday night, but it won’t be too long before you miss the free food).
And what food it was. Now, I’m pretty spice-tolerant. But I should have known when the waitress kept asking us if we really wanted our food spicy. I said yes. The waitress’s reaction could be summed up as “Really?” We changed our order to medium.
Good thing. We started with the som-tum (papaya salad, $6.95). This consisted of green papaya sliced into strips almost like past, mixed with a carrots, tomato, peanuts, lime, fish sauce and lots and lots of chili. It started with a mild flavor of the tangy papaya and then gave way to a burning sensation that soon ran from mouth to stomach. Normally, I’m a fan of this kind of thing—I used to be addicted to kim chee. But having just gotten over the flu, I let my S.O. have most of it. This was a twofer, scoring me points and sparing me having to publicly wimp out on spiciness.
Our two entrees were far more medium. In fact, they were quite sweet. Pad see-ew ($8.95) is one of my favorite Thai dishes, stir-fried flat rice noodles in a black bean sauce with garlic, egg, broccoli and (in our case) chicken. This is normally spicy and intense. I became addicted to it from a place near my house in San Francisco named Chili, Lemon, Garlic, which, sadly last year morphed into yet another taqueria (nothing against taquerias, but that’s the last thing the Mission needs more of). Takieng’s version was different, sweet like pad thai. I scored more points with the S.O. by letting her take what was left of this for her lunch the next day.
The only reason I wasn’t sad to give it up was that I got what was left of the kaeng ped-yang ($10.05), or duck curry with pineapple.
This is another dish that I grew really fond of from another Thai place, this one in Silicon Valley years ago when I used to work there. They would bring it out to your table inside a half-hollowed out pineapple and then light it on fire at your table.
Takieng didn’t do all that, but it was still really excellent, the red curry and coconut milk so sweet that it was basically a desert. After the initial scare from the waitress, the medium here was more of a mild. But I didn’t mind.