The orig­i­nal tam­bai

Let’s Eat - - WHAT'S INSIDE -

They wooed the owner of the sari-sari store for al­most two years. Melvin Viceral and Franco Ocampo were blessed, per­haps by the spirit of San Miguel. the first time they laid eyes on that tiny store­front, be­cause the two friends some­how saw the po­ten­tial of that sim­plest of sites in that most un­usual out-of-the-way lo­ca­tion, a very quiet res­i­den­tial area in one of Makati City’s old­est and most his­toric districts. When the sari-sari store owner fi­nally re­lented, Melvin and Franco used the very same space, the very same prover­bial hole-in-the-wall, as the bright bea­con of their sim­ple street side con­cept. Tam­bai raised its roof, lit­er­ally, for the first time, a cou­ple of days af­ter Christ­mas 2014. On the menu? Ice cold beer and Filip­inized Yak­i­tori by Chef Jerome Va­len­cia. Noth­ing more, noth­ing less. But a week af­ter they opened, in the first days of 2015, Tam­bai had ex­ploded into the con­scious­ness of ev­ery beer and bar­be­cue lov­ing cit­i­zen.

Was it the Christ­mas spirit? The cool weather of those first days? The nov­elty of drink­ing, quite safely, on a street? The magic of In­sta­gram and Face­book? All of the above, I’m sure. Af­ter all, I was hap­pily drink­ing there on Day 2, and it was just me and the own­ers at 6pm, but even then, the good vibes were al­ready ap­par­ent, and they were con­ta­gious. A few days later, Tam­bai was run­ning out of beer on a nightly ba­sis. It was in­san­ity and serendip­ity and spir­i­tu­al­ity and in­evitabil­ity. The party started three years ago, and it never stopped.

Melvin and Franco are still in there prac­ti­cally ev­ery day. Still work­ing be­hind the bar, open­ing beers and ex­pe­dit­ing or­ders them­selves. Smil­ing and hang­ing out with their guests. Still do­ing what they do best: mak­ing Tam­bai.

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