Who would have thought that turo-turo, the Pinoy version of fast food, is available in Manhattan? Elvie's Turo-Turo, a diminutive cafeteria-style operation, has actually been around since 1993. If it's longevity is any indication, it could only mean they're doing something right. As many already knows, New York is notorious with new restaurants that doesn't even see the light of day, closing their doors after only a few months.
Snooty New Yorkers however, may frown at cooked food that's been sitting for hours but to a homesick Pinoy who's craving for a familiar quick meal, this certainly fits the bill. Since the restaurant is only 15 minutes walk from where I work, I decided to go there again for lunch. I wanted to go before the busy lunch hour crowd. With several hospitals in the vicinity that employs so many Pinoy nurses and doctors, you can just imagine a lot of hungry stomachs vying for the few tables available. More often, people just take-out their orders.
Similar to most turo-turo joints in the Philippines, trays laden with cooked food lay behind the glass-enclosed counter. The menu is scribbled on a chalkboard with specials of the day. But every time I come here, just like today, I always opt for the set meal which can be taken dine-in or take-out: for $8.50, I get a choice of two entrees and a mound of steamed rice.
I had Tinolang Manok - one of my comfort foods - and Tortang Talong. The Tinola was still steaming when served in a large bowl, its aroma giving me a hint of ginger. As I spooned a slice of tender chicken, the spinach and chayote jostled in, as if to say: eat us too. It was good. The Talong was just lightly battered so it didn't come out too starchy. Overall, I feel it's worth it for the price I paid.
Just like previous visits, I find it's not just Pinoys who are actually eating but some adventurous tastebuds who've initially heard about Chicken/Pork Adobo and now have engaged their fingers to point-point. A quick glance at what others are eating and I see some have ventured into Pinakbet and Kare-Kare! I felt a surge of pride that somehow, Pinoy cuisine - long been overshadowed by other Southeast Asian flavors - is getting its fair share of fingers pointing in the right direction.