Have you ever wanted to eat fantastic food in an opium den full of beautiful people? Visit Tarakaan, located in midtown Houston and you will have your chance. As soon as you walk in you know you are in for something extraordinary. The restaurant is beautifully decorated in a modern style with an old-world Asian twist. There are both large and small paintings and art pieces such as a vintage rickshaw, birdcage chandeliers and Buddha statues. The focal point of the restaurant is an enormous seated Buddha statue that overlooks the entire restaurant.
Micha Rideout, the Executive Chef of Tarakaan, grew up in Thailand, studied in Melbourne and has traveled extensively as a chef. He has made Houston his permanent home and worked under many of the City’s prominent chefs. Rideout’s menu is a wonderful combination of all his experiences – he uses both locally sourced and lesser known ingredients which add an unexpected flavor to his dishes.
Once I got settled into my table, our server recommended a few drinks from the Signature Cocktail Menu, which I highly recommend – everything was delicious and different from what you’d see on a typical drink menu. The Red Lantern and Shiso Apple Whiskey were definitely stand-outs. The Red Lantern has house-made Thai chili black pepper syrup that gives the drink a fiery kick and the Shiso Apple Whiskey has a smooth taste without being overly fruity.
Everything at Tarakaan is served family style including the appetizers. The Short Rib Dumplings were a delicious take on traditional dumplings in a deconstructed way, so you get more of the tender meaty goodness and less of the dough. The meat was tender with just the right amount of sauce and peppered with edible nasturtium flowers. Another great dish to share is the Steak Frites. The locally sourced New York strip is covered with a Thai-noodle salad which is so good it could be a stand-alone item on the menu. I had to remind myself that my dinner companion might want a bit of the topping otherwise I would have eaten the entire thing myself.
The music in the restaurant is loud with a prevailing bass beat that might make you question whether you are in a nightclub or there to eat; actually Tarakaan is a bit of a hybrid. The restaurant has two large dining rooms as well as two bar areas. The main bar has lounge type seating, but is roomy enough to stand and mingle. To satisfy the late night Houstonians, the restaurant is open until 2am and kitchen service is available until 11pm. Whether you are looking for a great dinner spot to start off the evening or a fun bar to have drinks at the end of the night, Tarakaan is the new hotspot in Mid Town.