A dearest chowpal of mine introduced me to the cuisine of her native Philippines a few weeks ago. I've been so busy, so this review of JNJ Turo Turo is a tad overdue, but I do remember each dish quite well. We share our love of pork, and our porcine omakase was enjoyed - and I got to watch her cute daughter devour happily, too.
JNJ Turo Turo appears to be the only Filipino restaurant in the Boston area (it's in Quincy). A turo-turo is a common kind of Filipino restaurant where dishes are pre-made and sit in steam tables. You point to what you want - a source told me that "turo turo" actually means "point point" in Tagalog.
The dishes we tried seemed to be a good representation of some of the typical Filipino dishes. Interesting cuisine, because it reflects the colonial history of the islands - there are noticeable Chinese, Malay, American and Spanish influences throughout the cooking. Very non-pretentious and home-style-y foods.
I put total trust in my pal to order up a huge spread, and a pork fest it was. We started with glasses of Calamansi juice, a crisp, tart citrus drink. It wasn't too sweet, and the tang reminded me of the drink Kas Limon, for those of you who've had it in Spain.
And now to the chow:
1. Lumpia - these were the standard Filipino spring rolls, filled with beef, and accompanied by a very-sweet dipping sauce. Tasty, smaller than Chinese spring rolls.
2. Crispy pata - A huge plate overloaded with delicious fried pork skin! Very similar to chicharron, and included a vinegary dipping sauce flecked with chopped onion. I didn't fancy my first few bites, but my DC instructed me to find inner, tender chunks of pork, beneath the fatty layers. Nice crackly crust, and tasty when soaked in the vinegar sauce.
3. BBQ Pork skewers - tender, glistening skewers of sweet sweet glazed pork. Very moist meat, and not at all dry like some satay or teriyaki skewers I've had. Simple and good.
4. Pancit Bihon - A simple stirfry of thin noodles, with chunks of pork. Homey and honest. There was also an option of Pancit Canton, which I believe had a thicker? style of noodle.
5. Sinigang - This was by far my favorite dish. A pungent, vinegary soup, with a tamarind base. Generous blocks of tender pork. The broth had such an unusual flavor, I can't say I'd tasted anything like it before. Sparsely populated by a few green beans. Could definitely chow on this after a hangover. *cough*
6. Beef mechado - This was a dark beef stew, definitely slow cooked. The large stew-sized chunks of beef were a bit chewy for my liking. Not my favorite, though it was solidly satisfying with some rice. Again, simplicity. Our only non-pork dish.
7. Come on, I'm not that gluttonous.
We were stuffed to the brim, but the large array of dishes only cost a tad under $40. It's a small little place decorated with light and cool pine wood. Definitely not a dirty hole-in-the-wall.
I will surely go back when my pork-related delerium tremens returns.
JNJ Turo Turo
143 Water St
Quincy, MA 02169
(It's next to an interesting-looking Pinoy market, as well.)