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Point-Point Joint

February 2, 2010 1 comment

I’m filipino, but I like to think of myself as a coconut: brown on the outside, white on the inside.  I grew up eating rice every day, pretty much every meal.  I watched my lola (filipino grandmother) suck the brains out of fish heads and wondered why “chocolate meat” tasted nothing like chocolate (I later found out that what I was eating was pork blood stew–you sick, sick adults who would trick a trusting child!).  And, no, I’ve never eaten dog.

My Italian/Irish/Cherokee wife has learned to cook up some bomb filipino food over our 14 years of wedded bliss (it’s highly unlikely she’s part Cherokee, it just seems that most white people claim to have some sort of Native American in them).  But when I’m really getting a serious hankerin’ for some island comfort, I head to a “turo-turo”, which means “point-point”.  The concept is simple: walk over to the steamed-up glass display case and point to what looks good.  Don’t ask what it is, you might not want to know.

To celebrate my 35th birthday last month, I decided to pay homage to the cuisine of my childhood.  Google pointed me to Arko Foods in Glendale.  This medium sized grocery store is really easy to miss on Colorado Blvd.  Yes, it’s a grocery store, but look to your immediate left upon entering and you’ll find “turo-turo” heaven!  These resourceful filipinos pack 25-30 traditional dishes into a steam table meant for maybe 15 items (what’s a health code violation or two amongst friends?).  It’s all there: whole fried fish, baby octopus, chopped pig face, and chocolate meat (a.k.a.-dinuguan).  Add a couple young children selling jewelry and a taxi driver in cut-off shorts, a wife-beater tank top and flip flops and you’d think you were in central Manila.

My white-washedness kept me from the more exotic offerings.  We went with two combos and chose four standard “party foods”.  And they had garlic fried rice!  Score!  I’ll definitely be back.  Maybe in a wife-beater.

Lovely longanisa, that sweet and garlicky sausage that you burp up the rest of the day! The beef steak (usually braised in soy sauce and vinegar) was pleasantly tender and nicely tangy. The onions were still a bit crisp, which I really like. Great stuff!

The pork barbecue tasted of charcoal goodness with just the right amount of sweetness. The pancit may have had a bit too much fish sauce and definitely not enough garlic. Not bad, but not all that great.

Arko Foods
1428 E Colorado St
Glendale, CA 91205