I have, at some point or another in the course of writing on food, threatened to do a series on eateries -- as we fondly Anglicize the term. They're pretty ubiquitous. Every city has them, wherever one finds jeepney rest stops or near bus stations or schools. There are some that cater to drivers and are located near high end restaurants.
Ground rules. What would constitute a turo-turo or eatery? And what determines a good one -- aside from the obvious taste requirement? Here are the qualifications:
An eatery or turo-turo serves food already cooked and in a display case or on warming dishes where one makes a selection based on what are laid out on the serving dishes. Alternatively, some turo-turo places cook the food continuously during the dining hours, such as barbecue or inihaw places. This is an allowable variation.
Taste and consistency. It must not only be good, it must be consistently good. It must make a tasty first impression and be able to sustain it on the second and subsequent visits. Corollary to this, one good dish isn't enough to make for a good eatery. More than half the dishes on the menu or in the display should be delicious.
Price. By its nature, turo-turos must be cheap and filling. Points are given for healthy preparation and ingredients. Bonus points if, when serving a traditional dish, it is authentic both in method and ingredients and presentation.
Freshness. Because of the manner in which a turo-turo is run, freshness is usually determined by what time one goes to it. Too late after the lunch hour and the dishes are most likely limp, cold or past their due date. However, bonus points go to the the ones who make up fresh batches during the day. This usually means they have a steady flow of customers -- a clear indication of popularity normally based on taste.
Appearance may be waived, but we do take note of creative or traditional means of serving, e.g. banana leaves, bilao or coconut half shells.
While many of the eateries that will be featured here are in Metro Manila, we will also be exploring those outside. Also, this column welcomes guest writers, bloggers, contributors or tipsters and we would be happy to publish those who give us explicit permission to do so.
Our first discovery comes out tomorrow. Abangan.