Japanese Menu

Not so fast: Midtown lounge resumes restaurant service with a new chef and Japanese influence

Lounge resumes restaurant service with new chef and Japanese influence

Tarakaan Tsukemen ramen
New Tarakaan chef Rob Frias brings a Japense influence to dishes like Tsukemen ramen. Tarakaan/Facebook
Tarakaan
Owner Piran Esfahani decided to bring food back to Tarakaan. Photo by Eric Sandler
Tarakaan Ami Ebi large fried prawns
Ami Ebi, large fried prawns. Tarakaan/Facebook
Tarakaan soft shell crab bao
Soft shell crab bao. Tarakaan/Facebook
Tarakaan Tsukemen ramen
Tarakaan
Tarakaan Ami Ebi large fried prawns
Tarakaan soft shell crab bao

Just when Tarakaan thought it was out of the food business, it's been pulled back in. The Midtown lounge that suspended food service in February resumed it last weekend under the direction of chef Rob Frias. 

"I’ve gotten overwhelming emails, phone calls, text messages, 'Hey, Piran, we really miss Tarakaan as a restaurant," owner Piran Esfahani tells CultureMap. "When Rob came, we put one plus one together. Why not? I have the setup. Maybe it will be more successful."

Esfanhani first met Frias when the chef hosted a brunch pop-up at Tarakaan. After they formed a friendship, the two discussed the space's future. "He said,' you have this beautiful space,'" Esfanhani recalls. "It was meant for a restaurant."

True to his culinary roots working for chef Donald Chang at Uptown Sushi and Japanese-Korean hybrid Nara, Frias's menu takes a more explicitly Japanese direction than that charted by former chef Micah Rideout, whose original menu was more Thai-influenced. At last weekend's brunch preview, dishes included tonkotsu ramen, miso steak with eggs, and a hamachi taco in a crispy wonton. Dinner will focus on shareable items and dishes that can be executed quickly. 

"I know this is confusing. It’s confusing to me, too," Esfahani says. "I decided after meeting Rob this is what I signed up for initially, and this is what was very successful the first few months. It would be a shame to let that go."

Tarakaan is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 pm until 11 pm and Sunday from 10 am until 4 pm.

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