Japanese Soul Food

Guam’s palates are expanding and tastebuds are being a bit more adventurous. I love it! Foodies are very open to trying new things at least once while others remain vanilla and keep to foods they like. It’s understandable, why are you going to consume something you can’t even pronounce?!

Tucked away in the Tumon strip of Guam is a place called Tama Takoyaki Cafe. Having recently celebrated their 1st anniversary, the cafe, which specializes in takoyaki is offering a taste of Japanese street and soul food, featuring everything from Okonomiyaki, Somen, Kinako Mochi, and more. I’m sure those dishes sound foreign to some of you but trust me, I will describe every delicious detail.

So what is Takoyaki? It is a popular ball-shaped Japanese dumpling. The batter is a wheat flour base and is commonly filled with minced octopus. And while these balls of goodness sound simple, making them is far from it. Making the dumplings requires not only a special cast-iron pan with circular molds but it also takes skill! Once batter and filling are in molds, you are constantly flipping the balls with two chop stick like tools until golden brown on the outside. It is then topped with a mayo-worcestershire sauce. It’s a dish that takes roughly 10-15 minutes to come out to your table…but oh, is it worth it.

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Tama offers the OG of takoyaki- octopus, salmon, and a fusion of Guam/Japanese that is filled with smoked beef and then topped with a hot concoction that we here on Guam call- Denanche (DEE-nan-SEE), which consists of hot peppers, chopped eggplant, beans, and coconut milk. Pardon my slang but I find that it’s fitting- it’s amazeballs! A slight crunchiness on the outside and creamy smoky yumminess in the inside and you can top your takoyaki with an array of sauces available at the table.

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Another classic Japanese street food is Okonomiyaki. It is like a pancake and translates to- “grilled as you like it,” which is fitting because you can load up this pancake-like dish with almost anything. At Tama, you have your choice of seafood, pork, veggie, or shrimp. Okonomiyaki’s base is shredded cabbage held together by a loose batter…next they add whatever filling you choose, and once done, it is topped off with chuno sauce, which is like a thicker sweeter Worcestershire sauce, kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and scallions. This is one meal that can be shared!

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By now, I’m sure you are full and content. Close out your Japanese street food adventure with something to tame that sweet tooth- Kinako Mochi. Sticky rice balls doused with a sweet syrup. Just the right amount of sweetness to not weigh you down!

So if a trip to Japan is nowhere in sight….stroll on over to Tumon and enjoy Tama. Tama Takoyaki Cafe is open 11am-2pm for lunch and 6pm-11pm Monday-Friday and 11am-11pm on Saturday and Sunday. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram under “takoyakicafetama”

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