It is almost impossible to get good Takoyaki/Tamayaki in the Philippines outside of Little Tokyo, and they are usually priced quite steeply. But if you frequent the SM Pasig / Tiendesitas area, you’re in luck!
A few weeks ago, I was invited to try Tea Monkey. It was a bit too far from my usual haunts, but since I was already in the Valle Verde area that day, I decided to go. Tea Monkey, located inside SM Pasig, is a small, casual Tea & Tamayaki place.
It looks like a regular bubble tea place, but I was pleased to find out that they serve tasty food, way beyond what you would expect from a regular bubble tea place, and at reasonable prices!
What’s a Tamayaki?
Before we continue, what’s a Tamayaki? I’m sure we’re all familiar with Samurai Balls. Takoyaki is what the Samurai Balls we find at various food courts are based on.
But don’t think that they’re on the same level. Most of the samurai balls we find at food courts use a lot of substitutes and scrimp on the fillings – they’re not even close to what a real Takoyaki should be.
Takoyaki basically translates to grilled octopus (tako means octopus in Japanese). However, if it doesn’t contain any octopus, should we still call it Takoyaki? It should probably be called Tamayaki instead, which roughly translates to grilled ball.
My favorite from Tea Monkey are the Tamayaki! Each order gives you 6 tamayaki balls (2 balls each of clam, shrimp & octopus filling). Check out the dried fish flakes on top of the tamayaki! They are those things on top that look like wood shavings. Don’t be afraid if they move! They are sliced very thin, and the steam from the hot food makes them dance!
They have 3 different orders of Tamayaki – you get more toppings the higher in price you go. You can also choose different sauces.
I like Tea Monkey’s Tamayaki – the tamayaki balls are soft and I love that they don’t scrimp on the toppings and fillings! They are honestly comparable to, if not better than, the ones I’ve had at Little Tokyo in Makati. If you like wasabi, I recommend getting the Wasabi Sauce 🙂 It’s not too strong, and it hits like a brain freeze!
It’s better to eat the tamayaki in one whole bite! You get different flavors all at once! There’s the sweet, salty and slightly pungent sauce, the flavors of the various toppings, the flavors and textures of the fillings, and the squishiness of the tamayaki! Make sure it’s not too hot before eating it!
This is the regular Charlie Chimp (P100):
This is the Gorilla George (P110) with Sweet Chili Sauce. Others really liked the sweet chili sauce, but I prefer the original sauce.
This is the King Kong (P120):
I ordered this combo when I went back: Charlie Chimp (P100) + P5.00 for the Wasabi sauce.
I actually went back to Tea Monkey when I was in Tiendesitas again. I could have had my pick of restaurants in the area, but went back for the Tamayaki! I ordered some Tamayaki for take-out to share with my family and was delighted to see their cute take-out boxes!
Aside from Tamayaki, Tea Monkey also serves Chicken Thigh Fillet Sandwiches (P120). They have 3 flavors – Honey, Black Pepper and Cumin. You can also have these Chicken Thigh Fillets with rice (P120).
I liked the Cumin best. It’s smokey, and the cumin made me think of India and the Near East. Think of it like smelling toasted curry powder, except without the gingery-tasting part.
The Black Pepper is also good – you can taste the black pepper but it’s not overwhelming. The Honey is sweet, of course, and the default order for kids and the less adventurous.
Here’s what the sandwich looks like:
Let me show you the Chicken Thigh Fillets. These were cut up so that all of us can try the chicken, but the regular order with rice won’t be cut up like this
This picture on top is the Cumin, and the one below is the Black Pepper:
We were also able to try the Pork Belly (also P120 with rice):
For dessert, Tea Monkey has the Quaffle (P80). Something about this name just makes me think of Harry Potter and Quidditch!
They have several flavors – Original, Blueberry, Chocolate, Matcha, Mango and Strawberry. You can also order some dip (Maple or Chocolate) for P20.
I liked the quaffle – it is crunchy outside, but chewy inside, kind of like mochi or palitaw cooked on a waffle maker. It’s different, and I really enjoyed munching on the slightly sweet, slightly chewy quaffle. I like the Matcha and the Chocolate Quaffles. The Matcha flavor was tempered and not too grassy.
Tea Monkey also serves teas, milk teas and similar beverages. My dad really liked the sago. He found it soft and chewy, and for him to comment on that, means it must be really soft & chewy enough for a senior with dental issues to enjoy!
I like the classic Wintermelon MIlk Tea with Pearl, but the Matcha with Rock Salt Cheese is a very close second! Please try their Smoothies and Yakult drinks, too. We also found them quite delicious!
I think the price of the drinks are very competitive.
Tea Monkey’s restaurant design is playful and colorful! Staff is friendly and service is good. You do have to wait for your food because they make it fresh – they only start cooking it when you order.
The food is better than expected, in fact, I would go out of my way for the Tamayaki. The drinks are also very good and worth trying. Pricing is competitive.
I hope they open more branches soon so they can be more accessible to me!
Tea Monkey Tamayaki & Tea
Ground Floor, SM Hypermarket, Frontera Verde Drive, Ugong, Pasig City
Contact Numbers: 09428266832; 566-6917
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The Barat Queen
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