Filipino in the DC area
Hooray, its Asian-Pacific heritage month! So to celebrate - aside from living with a Pacific Islander - I want to find a good Filipino place to take my girlfriend because she says its the closest thing to her mom's cooking. Though I can't imagine one any other way, I'm looking for a very homestyle place. Also, I going to want to eat massive amounts of lumpia, so its a major plus if that's on the menu. Any suggestions in DC/NoVa/Close-in MD 'burbs?
The only place I'm aware of is Pampanguena Cafe, on Rte 355 at the Rockville/Germantown border. Just south of Shady Grove Road on the east side of the street. Lunchtime they do a buffet - I've never been for dinner.
Pamanguena is a real center for local Filipino cuisine. Unfortunately, the buffet is like most buffets - filled with uninspring, tired, enormous piles of food. I don't know what it's like for dinner.
In Arlington, Little Quiapo is very much a tiny hole-in-the-wall with mostly oily food, but some folks seem to like it. In Falls Church, Karaoke Idol -which always looks closed- is promising - best rendition of marinated milkfish I've had. Also in Falls Church, there is a medical building on Sleepy Hollow Road just off Seven Corners with a diner on the first floor which serves Filipino breakfast all day long. I think it's called either the Seven Corners Inn or Sleepy Hollow Inn. And then in Springfield, VA there is Manila Cafe, which I've never been to. And in the Bailey's X-roads area there is a market called Oriental East with a lunch counter in back. Also greasy, unappetizing food for the most part. I have not had good lumpia at any of these places.
The one on Sleepy Hollow is Fairfax Inn and it's wonderful. Bangus, bangus, bangus! They also happen to have really good french toast and their turon are served hot and drippy with caramelized sugar. Yum! The friendliest service.
The one in Bailey's Crossroads is Manila Oriental and I don't like to eat there, per se, but the bangus is good if you like the dried kind. They also make a great peppery chicken in coconut milk. Don't know the name and they don't always have it. Great for groceries, of course.
Why don't you cook for your girlfriend? Stock up on any needed ingredients and get dessert at Filipino Home Baking & Grocery in Wheaton. They might also be able to give you some tips on authentic Filipino restaurants.
Definitely make it yourself. Get some chopped pork, onions, garlic, egg, salt, pepper, water chestnuts, a little bit of soy and chop it all up. Get some lumpia wrappers at the local Filipino market and roll them up into 1/2 inch cigars, slice into quarters lengthwise and deep-fry until golden.
Serve with sweet and sour sauce and you're good to go.
In fact, you can make a ton and freeze them for future gnoshing.