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Jan 21, 2012 07:31 AM

Tagalog with us to Quincy

It's been awhile since we've talked and I must apologize. However a silver lunch lining was revealed while away toiling for the darkened fortress of the media in pursuit of the current political shenanigans. In the midst of all that mediocrity I did meet countless proud proprietors and talented cooks who dream an American dream, work hard and serve up honest fare. The conversation segued from Mexican to Mandarin, Russian to Polish, Arabic to Israeli, French to Thai and smatterings of other murdered-by-me tongues. A Shanghainese waitress in a Brazilian churrascaria sent me to a Vietnamese Phở where the Thai server hipped us to a very good Thai place, Lakorn Thai (470 S.Main) in Manchester, NH. At Consuelo's Taqueria, Martin(e) from Cuidad Mexico and hermano Arturo lamented that the board of health won't let them serve El Pastor on the vertical rotisserie yet the Greeks are spinning Gyros. Tom Kefalas presides over Somersworth Pizza but offers poutine rather than moussaka. Their hospitality was warm, the tone was friendly yet I missed our own neighborhood spots so now that I am back from the road let's sample the Phillipines by way of Quincy. A TuroTuro or point-point restaurant is the Tagalog steam line of soulful classics and amazing house specialities. You will see what you like and it's polite, even de rigueur, to gesture. At JNJ Turo Turo they get "point-point" right.

Originally a catering company JNJ Turo Turo opened it's doors in 2007. You can still order whole suckling pigs (Lechón) for private events and occaisions. (I know I must have one coming up). But beyond Chef Jervin's porcine prowess are the Filipino classics found no where else I know in the greater Hub. Start off with a Calamansi juice in soda water. The Filipino grapefruit lime like citrus juice is unique and restorative. (nts: I must get a lifetime supply asap). On this happy ccaision I am joined by a renowned world class squash champ (disabled list) who has ultimate noshing knowledge. I left the ordering to him. Good call. This Austronesian cuisine which is foreign to me got Chinese, Hispanic, American and other Asian influences in the trade winds. Nice trade.

This black pudding with pig parts can have lot's of rare tasty bits but JNJ's up scaled version was done right with little mineral taste to the garlic, chili and vinegar. The "chocolate meat" is served with white rice the dish is earthy, well practiced and satisfying.

Sisig arrived sizzling and was presented by the cook with a flourish.
Sisig in Tagalog means "to snack on something sour". Grilled and chopped pork, pork’s ears, and liver, seasoned with onions, hot peppers, ginger and calamansi juice is crunchy, complex and packs some pucker. The dish is said to have originated from local residents who bought unused pig heads from the commissaries of Clark Air Force Base. What our Fly Boys and Girls were missing was a flavor and textural delight sour spicy and right to the point....point.

Lechong Kawali
Deep fried pork belly, served with either ketchup or liver paste dipping sauce was garlic and vinegar fried goodness. Condiments included soy, vinegar, salt and sugar. The spare yet neat room had the obligatory flat screen tuned to TFC live from Manila. (Shouldn't they be asleep?) Point and eat, Cebu style whole party pig, Phillipines, folks and fun. Why not Tagalog. It's an Adobo world that needs our support as a lone outpost in the Hub.

A huge plus is that this intersection of Water Street in Quincy also bosts artisanal butchers, Indian, Pakistani, Brazilian and Flipino groceries. The bodega next to JNJ even has Balut (fertilized eggs) for the not so faint of heart(burn). Perhaps next time. Lot's of friendly Filipina shoppers advised us they were good cooks and attested to the quality of the meats and produce whilst steering us toward the Calamansi juice. "Encantado!"

A stop at Mina's just to the right of JNJ revealed home cooked dishes like beef Nihari, henna hand painting, and...and...and much to my delight Paan. پان which is a cold and fragrant plug made of betel leaf, areca nut, lime and kaatha paste. First time I've had the delectable digestivo this side of Old Delhi. What a crazy fun lunch! I highly recommend it!

We will return.

JNJ Turo Turo

143 Water Street Quincy, MA 02169

(508) 904-6228

JnJ Turo Turo (Authentic Filipino Cuisine)
143 Water St, Quincy, MA 02169

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  1. Thank you for such a thorough and positive post. JnJ Turo Turo is in such an awkward location where hundreds of cars pass each day without noticing. I think you may have perked others curiousity enough to seek this spot out and enjoy a meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pegmeister

      You may remember when I cast out for memorable or more specifically unique Chinese cuisine in Quincy. I had missed some key comings and goings it seems. There was more to this JnJ day including a visit to the Kam Man Market and a sort've meh Vietnamese snack nearby. Clearly more research is required.

    2. Good call --- I like JNJ Turo Turo a lot. Very homestyle and the dishes of the day change, well, each day. Do they have their own calamansi juice now, or did they direct you to the Super Pinoy Oriental Market next door?

      1 Reply
      1. re: lipoff

        They were out of the Calamansi that day at JnJ and I got it and a look at the Balut next door at Super Pinoy. Today I returned for a large supply of the juice drink and concentrate. Then I visited Mina's on the other side and bought all the paan they had.

      2. So I finally hit JnJ recently after wanting to for years. Sorry to say I was pretty disappointed.

        Compared to my one other experience with a steam table type Philippine place in San Francisco the food was just not very well seasoned. Sorta tasted like all of the sauces came out of a bottle or jar.

        I asked for a sampler plate with a little of everything in the steam table and none of it really rocked my world. I had the pork belly, the mixed plate of naughty bits including blood pudding, a veggie plate with some nice eggplant and long bean, and some beef stew.

        The veggies were perhaps the high note but just tasted like they had added ketchup and fish sauce to steamed veggies.

        The beef stew needed another hour on the simmer and lacked flavor. One of the most boring beef stews I've eaten.

        The naughty bits stew was nice enough but not particularly well seasoned. It did not hold together as a dish, but just seemed like various naughty bits boiled a bit and sauced up after the fact. The pork belly was just plain rubbery and uninteresting.

        Contrast this with the meal I had in SF that was jammed with complex flavors, simmered banana flower and had the real feel of home cooking carefully prepared. The meals were sadly not even in the same universe.

        In my book not worth going out of the way for at all, though I suppose if you are in the immediate vicinity. Perhaps some of the made to order dishes are better.

        2 Replies
        1. re: StriperGuy

          Not a lot of choices to compare on the local adobo trail but on several visits with a smattering of a la minute dishes, a good time was had by all. The neighborhood was what was so great. Super Pinoy and Mina with a great butcher round the corner. I may shop here today for some super pinoy bowl tail gate at home necessities.

          1. re: EATTV

            tis a neat little area . also brazilian butcher shop, indian and intl mkts, aiello for ravioli a block northish having lived in Daly City i felt back at home popping into the grocer..which was quite well stocked but seemingly a bit short on customers