Flashback to a couple of years ago, say around 2015, before Poblacion was “cool”—actually, Pob has always been cool. There was only a handful of hangout establishments (that we knew of) at the time. And one of the OG places to be was Tambai.
Wait, before we go on, this is Geo btw, and just to make it clear, this isn’t an endorsement or paid ad lol—and that pretty much goes for any features, rants and raves that go on the blog. The products and places we write about, we actually pay for and choose to support—unless of course it’s a rant and in that case we’ll whine about why we don’t like something. There’s this saying that if you really wanna support something or someone, buy their products. Don’t be a mooch. But I digress, we’ll save that for another time. 😉
Also, this isn’t a review—it’s most definitely a rave.
We will be giving Tambai a rating in our way tho, 😉 so read on!
I’ve been going to Tambai, before the air-conditioned back room, before Kampai, before the upstairs was Kampai, before the alley behind. I’ve brought many a friend, both local and not, to this tiny hole in wall for some good times and good vibes. I can easily and truthfully say that there was a [long] stretch in the past three years that I was in Tambai at least four nights a week. (I may or may not even have a Tambai shirt and have on occasion DJ’ed with my trusty iPod of throwbacks hits – LeLz)
So imagine my dismay at learning it was closed indefinitely.
Tambai was good. Tambai was consistent. For years it served as a hidden escape from the basic grammers that roam our busy little metropolis—they haven’t found Tambai yet, or maybe they’ve heard of it, but with its grey walls and minimal furnishings have probably been deemed ill-fitting for the feed—which kept them at bay yay. I’ve spent many a night sketching strangers, waiting for traffic to subside, talking about life, talking about the dumbest shit and making new friends and memories at Tambai.
And I think that that was a huge part of Tambai’s charm. The vibe was easy, no pretentions, simple and good.
Something I’ve noticed about Manila nightlife culture is that most, but not all groups of people I come in contact with are somewhat insular—I came here with my friends, and will only hang and interact with the people I came here with. This was not the case with Tambai, I was never worried about showing up alone because I knew that no matter who was there, it was never gonna be a lonely night. Well, I’m also an extroverted Gemini but I think that’s besides the point lol.
Tambai was good. Tambai was safe. Tambai was cheap. Tambai was the start. Tambai was a community.
Last December, I brought together a group of outspoken women to just talk, about Manila, about life—The MiZ+MOXiE Think Tank Drink Tank. There was no question where I wanted it happen: TAMBAI.
(I promise we’ll release the transcript of that discussion soon)
A few weeks ago, Tambai was closed indefinitely. And y’all know the Manila rumor mill:
They closed cos of blah blah. It’ll open on Monday. No, next week pa. No This Wednesday. No they’re moving. Wala, they’re closed for good.
And then the post came. They’re open once more.
As soon as I was free I sauntered over, crossed Kalayaan Ave from the MIZANDMOXIE.COM tuio to offer my congratulations.
I ordered my usual, sat at my usual. At 6pm, there was already a hen party, and some of the founders were having dinner, talking shop. I came alone as usual, just enjoying the chatter around me. Nothing has changed. =)
And as I sat there, double scotch on the rocks in hand, I thought to myself, “Do I give a shit about Tambai? And if so, how many?”
All in all, I can give Tambai:
I promised myself only one drink last night (and really actually had just one) but will be back tonight—actually, now that Tambai has reopened, if you decide to drop by there’ll be a 30% chance that I’ll be there and that it’s already raining.
TAMBAI Yakitori Snackhouse
Address: 5779 Felipe St., Barangay Poblacion, Makati
Hours: Monday – Saturdays, 5pm – 12am
Phone: +63917 842 3725
Images by Jello Espino.
For Awesome Planet’s Tambai review click HERE.
For Spot’s Tambai review click HERE.