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Get Your Indian Food Fix the Easy Way: Tärkă Indian Kitchen

This entry is part of a series, Restaurants»

Lamb Tikka

This week was very eventful, with trips to the Ranch to collect the remnants of our belongings, the ongoing heat storm (I can’t think of it any other way these days), and daughterperson’s last visit before heading off to college again. I know I didn’t live that fast back when I was in school (although I suspect I did). So many things to do that there’s just no time to cook.

Fortunately, greater Austin has plenty of restaurants for solving the dinner problem.

I got a major shock this week too. No, not the stock market problem. Not even the need for shoulder surgery. No, it was much more fundamental than that. I found out that Jessi likes Indian food.

Yeah. I mean, knock me over with a turkey feather. I’ve never taken her to Indian places, since her mom doesn’t care at all for that cuisine. In fact, I’ve always had to sneak around furtively get my Indian food fix on my own, unless I could con some poor unsuspecting fool find a friend who was free for lunch and didn’t mind Indian. In any case, there’s not that many places in Austin for good Indian food, a fact that surprises me almost as much as my daughter’s emerging food sophistication. We have a vibrant community of folks from the Indian subcontinent here in central Texas, but somehow that hasn’t translated into a large offering of restaurants in quite the same way that Vietnamese places have appeared.

TikkaOh, we’re not completely without. One of the newest entrées into the Indian food space is Tärkă Indian Kitchen (I’ll stop with the fancy diacriticals now; they’re making my fingers hurt already.) This eatery uses the fast-casual model, where you order your meal at a counter and then pick out a comfortable place to sit while your food is prepared. The store is very neat and clean, with plenty of color and lots of pleasant aromas wafting from the cooking area. Modernistic chairs, not fancy but solid, and tables that can seat four or forty (after rearrangement).

We looked over the menu board first, and chose our meal options:

  • Vegetable Samosas
  • Chicken Pakora
  • Lamb Tikka Masala
  • Chicken Vindaloo
  • Aloo Ghobi
  • Garlic Naan (two orders)

For drinks we each picked something different. Kai went for the only thematic drink, though: Mango Lemonade. (Drinks are self-serve and free refills.) Kai pronounced the lemonade to be very tasty, more like an orangeade, with plenty of mango flavor. Rather made the rest of us wish we’d chosen more wisely.

The appetizers came out quickly, and they were nicely hot. We were all a bit disappointed in the quantity, though. Only two samosas in the order, and the pakora fit on a small plate (and didn’t cover that). The flavors were nice, and the cilantro-based dipping sauce was very flavorful. The sauce has no spicy zest in it, which is a great thing for this family generally; they prefer things on the mild side. The amount of sauce was excessive for the quantity of the appetizers, though.

Each of the three “entrées” came with fragrant white rice, and plenty of that. We shared the dishes family-style and compared our impressions of the flavors. The kids didn’t like the Aloo Ghobi much, and once I pointed out that it was all vegetables they nodded sagely. The lamb tikka came with plenty of sauce, which made for some nice eating over the rice. The lamb was tender and tasty, and the sauce was quite mild. As we had ordered. I had asked for the vindaloo to be medium-spicy, and it had a pleasant zing to it without being so hot that the rest of the crew couldn’t at least try a bit of it. Actually, nobody complained about the zest level. I did notice, though, that I got a lot more chicken than lamb! (AND all the potatoes and cauliflower I wanted.)

Vindaloo

Jessi was the first to voice a minor concern I had thought of, but kept to myself. The quantity of food seemed a bit on the low side, for the money. That is to say, compared to other Indian restaurants we’ve been to (me, a lot of them; her, a few), the value was a bit on the spare side. Not dramatically so, but noticeable. That’s not to take away from the quality of the preparation or the flavors! Those were just fine, we all agreed. (As a comparison point, the total bill for the four of us was $46. No adult beverages were consumed in the making of this review.)

In summary, we give Tarka (pronounced TUR kaw) good marks for flavor and quality, less so for total value. High marks too for cleanliness, friendliness and overall ambience. (Just remember, it’s almost-but-not-quite fast food when you compare with other dining experiences.) Will we be back? Maybe, but not often. It’s a good location to grab a quick meal while shopping at Ikea or the nearby malls and outlets; you’ll get a square meal, and you can get back to pumping up the economy shopping quickly. It’s not the kind of place we’ll go out of our way to go to just for dinner, though. So a lukewarm thumbs-up for Tarka, if that makes sense…

El Taquito Sabor Mexico on Urbanspoon

Tarka Indian Kitchen, 201 University Blvd., Suite 580 (near Ikea), Round Rock, TX 78665. Phone 512.246.1922. Fast-casual Indian fare at reasonable prices; lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Gluten-free friendly; vegan friendly; kid-friendly; free Wi-Fi. Takeout and delivery (limited area) available. Beer and wine available.

Enjoy the (Quick Indian Food) Heat!

Entries in this series:
  1. Cool River Café and Southwestern Poblano Soup
  2. Restaurant Review: Gumbo's Louisiana Style Café
  3. Restaurant Review: Chola Indian Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Review: Fujian Grand China Buffet, Austin
  5. Restaurant Review: Casa Garcia's Tex-Mex Restaurant
  6. Review: Mesa Rosa Mexican Restaurant
  7. Restaurant Review: Truluck's Seafood, Steak and Crab House
  8. Restaurant Review Update: Fujian Grand China Buffet Restaurant
  9. Restaurant Review: Pho Viet Restaurant
  10. Sunday Brunch Anniversary Celebration: Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill
  11. Late-Lunch Steaks at the Blue Oak Grill
  12. Mama Roux: So Good There's A Song About It, Sort Of...
  13. Phil's Ice House, an Austin-Weird Place for Great Burgers
  14. Easter Sunday Dinner: A Poor Experience at a Usually Reliable Locale
  15. A Sedate Spring Lunch at Zed’s
  16. Looking for a Taste of Germany? Well, We Tried…
  17. Fresh and Tasty Tex-Mex, Prepared by a Grandma
  18. The HomeField (Grill) Advantage
  19. Dinner for One: Sometimes the Good Stuff is Right Under Your Nose
  20. Smoky Heaven in Round Rock: Johnny T’s BBQ
  21. Tex-Mex, Better’n Sex (Says So on the Menu)
  22. The Quest Begins Anew (Just Pho Me): Mai Lien Bistro
  23. A Little Bit of the French Quarter, Here in Central Texas
  24. Quick Bites: El Caribe Tex-Mex
  25. It’s Good, It’s Italian, and You Don’t Have to Go to Europe to Get It
  26. Casa G’s for Lunch (Hint: It’s Awesome)
  27. Chola Indian Restaurant: A Good Indian Eatery Gets Better
  28. Tacos are Brain Food, and Brainiacs Eat at El Taquito…
  29. Get Your Indian Food Fix the Easy Way: Tärkă Indian Kitchen
  30. Late Lunch at Mandola’s Italian Market; Worth the Wait…
  31. I Didn’t Know Sichuan, China Included Round Rock
  32. Sunday Brunch at Pecan Street Station; Good Choice…
  33. Does Kung Fu Buffet Lives Up to Its Name? My Sample Says…
  34. The Underground Visits Ethiopia for Dinner (and Has a Wonderful Time)
  35. Pho Lee Vietnamese, It’s Total-Lee Pho (and Very Good)
  36. A Taste of Jalisco in North Austin
  37. The Great Pho Quest Continues: Pho Thaison in Allandale
  38. From New Pho to Old: Lunch at a (Nearly) Forgotten Friend, Tan My
  39. Z’Tejas, a Wonderful Place for Brunch and Clan Revelry
  40. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Round Rock: Great Meat; As For the Rest…
  41. LongHorn Steakhouse Round Rock: A New Family Favorite
  42. Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock: More Than Finger-Licking Good
  43. Drinks and Snacks on the Deck at McCormick & Schmick’s
  44. Going Back Pho More at a Local Favorite
  45. Swagat Indian: A Disappointment With a Few Bright Spots
  46. Branch BBQ in Wells Branch: A Local Secret?
  47. Karrrazy, Man: Kublai Khan Crazy Mongolian Stir Fry
  48. VooDoo BBQ & Grill: Their HooDoo’s Pretty Good, Actually
  49. My Fit Foods: Tasty, Healthy Food, Ready in a Flash
  50. Chang Thai, Our Family’s New Favorite
  51. A Quick Trip to Agra, Without Leaving Home
  52. Playing With Your Food (and Your Mom Would Approve): Shabu Hot Pot & Noodle Bar
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