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Filipino in the DC area

  • w

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?

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        That's a shame about Pamanguena - I haven't been in years but I went when they first opened and I thought the food was very good.

        The staff was also very gracious in explaining what everything was to us.

        1. re: Steve

          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.

        2. 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.

          1. 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.

            1 Reply
            1. re: onocoffee

              We do make certain things time to time but I was just curious for restaurant suggestions .... I have to admit though, it never occurred to ask someone at a market which is about the most reasonable thing I've ever heard. Thanks.

            2. The Baguio Cafe in Oxon Hill. I go there all the time. You have to call ahead for lumpia, though.
              http://www.gazette.net/stories/101107...

              1. East St. Cafe in Union Station has a lot of Filipino dishes and their Shanghai rolls are awesome. The lumpia, not too much. I can't vouch for the flavor of the Filipino dishes as I just stick with the Curry Laska. But, for the Union Station area lunch option, is not really a bad one.

                1. I've only had Phillipine food at Manila Cafe in Springfield, so I'm not much opf a judge but it certainly seemed like home cooking to me. If she's Filipino, then she will probably know what dishes to order from the menu, which comes with no explanations of the dishe. I don't specifically recall lumpia but I went to a Sunday buffet and tried about 20 different things. Some very good, some not, but all fresh.

                  1. A place called Lumpia, Pansit, atbp was written up in the Gazette today. It's in Gaithersburg in Festival at Muddy Branch. I know nothing about it other than what's in the Gazette.
                    http://www.gazette.net/stories/041608...
                    http://www.lumpiapansitatbp.com/

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: wookyluvr

                      Adding... I asked my neighbor who is Filipino if he knew the place on Muddy Branch, and he said yes, he'd known the owners for years, that they used to just do catering, and have catered for him. He said the weekend buffet is a good way to sample a lot of different Filipino foods. He liked it. FWIW, he is less excited about Pampangueno (which I like fine, but I know nothing about Filipino food)... his family is from that (state? island? region?) and it doesn't live up to his standards for that cuisine.

                      1. re: wookyluvr

                        Great place and great food...the daing fish, and the pansit is great, the kare-kare needs some work, the fresh lumpia is okay, but the ginataan desert is simply marvelous! And the wife loves the turon and the espasol too!

                        Of course, Mom's cooking out West is still the one to beat, plus all of the SoCal Filipino eateries are almost second to none, duking it out with the growing chains of Filipino restaurants (ChowKing, JolliBees, etc.), It would be nice if some of them will try it out over here...

                        Nevertheless, Lumpia, Pansit atbp. is a good place for Filipino food because it reminds everyone of 'home'.

                        1. re: dodomaster

                          We went to Lumpia, Pansit atbp last week for the lunch buffet and really enjoyed it. Again, I'll post the caveat that I know absolutely nothing about filipino food, we just ate stuff and liked it. LOL I feel like I need to have that in my signature on this board. I'm not Chinese, I've never been to Thailand, I didn't grow up on my grandmother's Mexican home-cooking, etc. :) I just know when I like to eat food, and we enjoyed the food at the buffet at Lumpia, Pansit. I really liked the meat Lumpia (again not knowing anything different) and the bifstek. There was also a pork dish I enjoyed. And a soup that was very light and tasty. We'll definitely go back!

                        2. re: wookyluvr

                          Thank you for mentioning this place! I had no idea it was there. I used to live in the P.I. and I LOVE lumpia, pancit, adobo, etc. I went during lunch and ordered all three types of lumpia to go. They made it fresh for me--they didn't just pull it out of the buffet stock. THAT was classy.

                          The meat lumpia was perfectly fried and tasted just as it should -- the filling was perfect. The fresh lumpia wrapping was lovely, probably the best I've ever had. The filling was a little odd, but I can't put my finger on why. The veggie lumpia wasn't fried quite as well as the meat lumpia, but still really good. The sauces (different for each type of lumpia) were all excellent.

                          They're really friendly and they really care about their food. The food offered in the lunch buffet looked MUCH better than most buffet food, with lots of variety. The place was filled with Filipinos -- always a sign you're in the right place when the folks who know the food best are scarfing it up!