Guam Diner Bytes: Tama Takoyaki Cafe
Although I do not usually do write-ups or reviews of new restaurants after they’ve just opened (Tama’s been open only 3 weeks), I decided to make an exception since there has been such a huge “buzz” about this place in the social media and I have had a number of requests for information about Tama. Tama Takoyaki Cafe is still a young newbie on the restaurant scene and is in a highly visible, high traffic location (housed in the former Shisen Ramen spot). The owners of Tama have totally renovated the interior of the restaurant. Now it is like an ultra-modern trendy furniture store - akin to IKEA!
Once inside you are captivated by the white streamlined spaciness of the interior, with floor to ceiling glass walls separating dining areas so you can see other guests, just not hear them. There are round circles on the walls and even the light fixtures are round - that’s kind of the theme of the name (tama) round or sphere. The main draw for this place is the hugely popular Japanese treat, Takoyaki, which is a round ball made with whole wheat flour made into a batter with diced octopus, egg, green onions, and tempura scraps cooked in a special takoyaki pan.
Although for this review I didn’t try it, Tama Takoyaki Cafe’s Takoyaki is unique as they make it crunchy on the outside and creamy juicy on the inside. Typical cooking time is about 15-20 minutes and could vary if they are really busy. The price for the original Octopus Takoyaki (8 pcs) is $9.50. They also have Tama Takoyaki and you can choose you filling - Kimchee, Cheese, Mochi, Shrimp, Chicken, Tuna and Corn.
What I did order were two appetizers, Spicy Tako ($6) and Karaage ($6), and the Pork Okonomiyaki ($12). I also had a bottle of San Pellegrino Sparkling Water ($3.50), which is an amazing price for Tumon, and says a lot about the sophistication of the owners, Duke and Aya Urbano. Moreover, they also serve illy espresso-based coffees, with prices of $4 for a Cappuccino or Cafe Latte. They do serve premium and domestic beers as well as wine. This place will probably become a new hangout for a lot of demographics - its spacious, clean, and cool!
My first appetizer, Spicy Tako (Octopus and Vegetables fried with Spicy Paste) was a tasty, perky bowl of thin sliced onions, red and yellow bell peppers, and tender octopus chunks. The unique sauce has a rich flavor that resonates throughout all the ingredients.
My second appetizer, the Karaage, has bite-sized Japanese style friend chicken. This is a very lightly battered, crisp and tasty kaarage, that has a minimal amount of grease. It’s not a huge portion, but gives a nice introduction to the quality of the food here at Tama (the service is good too).
The last dish I’d ordered was the Pork Okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese style pancake with cabbage. They also have the Seafood version for $13.00. When I tasted Tama’s Okonomiyaki, I immediately could taste the freshness of each ingredient. It was surprising to be so tasty. You can add sauces (I did get a photo of another dish, the Yakisoba ($10) which is another dish I love that’s made with fresh fried noodles, pork, cabbage and ginger. As you can see from the photo, this is something you probably couldn’t resist if they put it in front of you! Prices are great for Tumon!
Duke had wanted us to try the Yokote Yakisoba ($11.00), which has fresh fried noodles with ground pork, cabbage, fukujinzuke (red daikon radish), and a sunny side up egg. By this time Zee had arrived from a cancelled rehearsal so she really enjoyed this and loved the Okonomiyaki that was left over. Tama has some steaks on their menu, including a SaikFor vegetarians, they do have Mentaiko Caesar Salad and Potato Salad. They also have Tofu Steak with a Shiitake Mushroom Sauce. I suggested they try to make a Vegetarian Okonomiyaki.
What was the biggest surprise was that we still had room left for a dessert that is destined to become a cult classic - Berry Chimichangas ($7), which is deep fried strawberry & blueberry cheesecake). OMG! This is so yummy...it’s on a plate crisscrossed with chocolate sauce and nuts. The cheesecake was originally frozen but melts during the frying process to make it a warm, melt-in-your-mouth confection that’ll have you moaning ecstatically.
The bottom line on Tama Takoyaki Cafe is that I give it an unqualified two thumps up! You should find this a pleasant if not superlative dining experience!
Ita dake masu!!
Ken the Guam Food Guy