Since the appearance of ramen on the Prague food scene, it has become somewhat of a rage. There have been a number of ramen bars to open in the past few years, each drawing on individual flavors to create authentic, yet unique, ramen dishes. The newest kid on the block, Taiko, offers their own take on the traditional Japanese street food with delicious results.

The first thing that really strikes you about Taiko (a word that can translate to a drum, high-priest, or even the color pink) is the decor. Both the upstairs and downstairs dining rooms have classic Japanese lanterns running the length of the room, accented by beautiful hand painted silk cherry blossoms. There is a feeling of mixing old with new, as modern wooden bars contrast against the “unfinished” accent walls. The open kitchen buzzes with activity, and the famous Japanese prints on the walls inspire a second look (no really, take a moment to check them out.)

Their menu is available in English and offers such classics as tonkotsu, shoyu, karaage (japanese fried chicken), cold noodle dishes, and gyoza. There’s also additions like wakame salad, daikon radish, and the always favorite korean kimchi. I went with the shoyu, and as someone who has been to Japan numerous times and eaten many, many bowls of ramen on sketchy side streets in Osaka, Taiko’s ramen is spot-on in flavors and textures.

Taiko’s story originally starts with three friends, Michael, Ming, & Huy. Sons of Vietnamese immigrants, the three met in university and were part of a large group of close-knit friends that shared creative interests and youthful enthusiasm. “We started talking about opening a restaurant four years ago,” says Michael. “We thought about what’s missing and what would we like to eat.” Ming adds that before the appearance of ramen in Prague, Japanese food was strictly associated with sushi. “The younger generation is eating out more and not afraid of stronger, more exotic flavors.”

photos courtesy Taiko

Inspired by a childhood love of Japanese culture and Tokyo’s famed ‘Memory Lane’ food stalls, the friends opened Taiko a little over two months ago. “We wanted to create an authentic ramen, but we also wanted to keep it local,” Ming tells me. “We make our own noodles, use local produce, and a local butcher. We make sure everything in our dishes is certified.” Each morning, the Taiko chefs make, roll, and cut over 100 portions of noodles. “We sold out by 4pm the first two days we were open!” says Michael proudly. They do admit, however, that it was their parents, who really led the way for opening minds to Asian cuisine. “The first generation opened the Chinese restaurants, then came the Vietnamese pho, and now we hope with our ramen we can be a stepping stone for the next generation.”

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Melinda King

Melinda King

Originally from the great state of Nebraska, Melinda King has been writing, acting, and raising a family in Prague for the last 13 years. Aside from that, she enjoys various Gen-X activities like drinking coffee, wearing cardigans, and quietly weeping during 25th-anniversary shows of bands she used to like.
Melinda King