CHECK IT OUT: Tamayaki at P. Guevarra Street, San Juan

Little fried balls that are packed with flavor.

Tamayaki
453 P. Guevarra Street, San Juan
Contact: 705-1856
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Sunday)

 

 

(SPOT.ph) If there was ever an argument about just how satisfying a pair of balls could be, the verdict can be found in Tamayaki and the answer is immensely satisfying-for something so simple, that is.

 

Wheat-flour batter imported from the flagship in China is shaped into soft ping-pong-sized balls cooked in a special takoyaki griddle. The outside crisps up into a brown crust, protecting a luscious, umami-tinged mantle with crunchy shreds of cabbage that wrap around an al dente octopus core. Over the zigzagging drizzle of sweet white sauce is a final flourish of smoky-fishy bonito flakes and tiny threads of nori.

 

Give us a fork and we’ll eat it from here.

 

Just some of the bestselling flavors.

 

Classic, satay, and mild and hot teriyaki sauces

 

An order is a pair served in a little carton. That's what takoyaki is, after all, modest street food. But a bite reveals the complexity underneath: the marriage of textures and flavors packed tightly into that little ball. Tamayaki takes the traditionally octopus-filled treat by offering an entire catalog of flavors to make up a little takoyaki party.

 

The place is designed both for grab-and-go and for a more relaxed dining setup.

 

If the tako (P115) gives bite, the Squid Satay (P115) is all about tenderness. A white translucent sauce is the standard offering, but amp things up with a mix of the mildly spicy satay sauce and the fiery-sweet teriyaki. It plays well with the milder profile. Bits of beef in the batter inject a deeper shade of flavor in the Grilled Steak (P125), but again, that combo sauce works wonders in improving an already rewarding snack.

 

It's easy to be swayed into ordering several flavors: There’s the Mussels and Cheese (P125), the Smoked Mackerel (P105), the Kani and Mozzarella (P115). They're light, you tell yourself, but there's a surprising heartiness that's felt after a couple of pieces, especially since they find a perfect partner in tea-34 kinds divided into three categories: plain, with milk, or juice-based.

 

The only way to finish is with a tower of milk teas.

 

The Passion Fruit Aloe Green Tea (P85/large) is delectably tart, with pop balls instead of pearls that explode into little ripples of sweetness. The Matcha (P95/large) is complemented by chewy red beans that you have to suck up from the bottom of the cup to fully appreciate. Or, go for broke with the Sake-Infused Milk Tea (P110) that has a treacherous little kick at the end of a sip, complemented by bits of rice balls.

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The only obstacle between you and these balls is the wrongly numbered lots along P. Guevarra. One minute you're already along the 300s, the next you're back to 90. Tamayaki should be in a more accessible setting for more people to enjoy. Thank heavens they have stalls around Metro Manila.

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