Turns out the East Village, already a destination for Filipino food, just got not one but two new Pinoy options. In addition to Tito King’s Kitchen, a bygone neighborhood mainstay has made a return of sorts. Elvie’s Turo-Turo was a First Avenue fixture until its namesake proprietress retired and closed the place in 2009, sending this reporter into a balut panic. Now the daughter of Elvie, Carla Cinco, has opened a new takeout joint just a half-block from her mom’s former perch.
Carla helped out at Elvie’s for 17 years before dabbling in the fashion and real-estate industries. “I used to sit there and daydream, ‘Well, this is what I would do…,'” she told us. “It took years and years, but when I finally found out about this place I just had to get it.”
At Bago (the name of the week-old business means “new” in Tagalog), she’s using her mom’s recipes, and Elvie herself is training employees. This time around, there’s no buffet service: you just pick between a trio of grilled, soy-glazed options (salmon is coming soon), pork or chicken versions of the slow-simmered national dish known as adobo, three varieties of pan-sauteed noodles, three varieties of tamarind or ginger broth, and two types of rolls (the menu, also available for delivery, is below). Filipino breakfasts and the decadent frozen mishmash known as halo halo are coming soon, as is (depending on the liquor license gods) San Miguel beer. For now, there’s Filipino sodas like Royal and Sarsi.
Carla says her “authentic, fresh-made Filipino food” is “affordable and acceptable” — and the cheap, takeout-oriented part is what sets her apart from the other Filipino spots on First Avenue, like Jeepney and Maharlika. Not that competition should be fierce — between NYU and Beth Israel, there are plenty of Filipino students and workers in the neighborhood, Cinco points out.
And then, of course, there are loyal fans of Elvie’s. “Old clients have been coming in and saying, ‘Oh my gosh!'”
Bago, 299 First Ave., bet. E. 13 and 14th Sts., East Village; 212-614-7338; open Mon-Sun 11am to 10:30pm