Thai food is an amazing amalgamation of a thousand different ingredients, from a dozen different cultures, that have been stewing in a giant melting pot for several generations. The result is an unrivaled variety of choices that would take many lifetimes to experience. There’s something for everyone’s taste, so it’s puzzling why many US Thai restaurants stick to a limited subset of standard choices. Lucky for us, Tarakaan Restaurant & Lounge in Midtown Houston breaks the mold and embraces the diversity that is Thailand.
Tarakaan’s choice of interior design is reminiscent of the underground Thai lounge scene, and is inspired by the original Buddha Bar in Paris. Guests are greeted by an authentic rickshaw, and giant Buddhas, both reclining and sitting, are front and center. The lighting is decidedly dark and accented by splashes of colored lights which adds to the intimate lounge vibe. There’s a DJ spinning tunes next to a gorgeous bar area in the main part of the restaurant that adds to the effect. There’s a second section in the back with it’s own dedicated bar for private events.
Tarakaan’s menu takes a little from the several cultures that have contributed to the region, and instead of fusing them, Chef Micah Rideout enhances their inherent tastes. Rideout grew up in Thailand and knows well of all the different flavors and techniques that make Thai food a delight. The menu is influenced by Japan, China, India, and even Morocco as it includes a lamb tangine. The appetizers include a number of salads and dumplings, but the winner has to be the hamachi tiradito made of passion fruit, shallots, and chili oil. We of course tried the lamb tangine for our main course and were not disappointed. Fall of the bone and succulent, the dish was a perfect blend of Moroccan spices and cooking technique. The desert choices included mochi ice cream, the best flavor being mango, cheesecake, and ice cream sandwiches. But what really stood out was the pandan panna cotta with seasonal compote and toasted coconut black sesame seeds. This desert not only tasted amazing, but it was amazingly fragrant as well. A perfect end to wonderful meal.
Tarakaan is a welcomed addition to the Midtown scene. A great place for a drink, a romantic meal, group event, or Sunday brunch.
Inputs By Sandeep Khandelwal