Pampanguena Cafe Restaurant Gaithersburg Maryland


DC Flavors review of Pampaguena Cafe!

This review is from DC Flavors website: http://www.dcflavors.com/2008/03/17/pampanguena-cafe/

“The food here is simply an explosion of exotic flavors.”

Pampanguena Cafe

March 17th, 2008 by jungdae

Dan and I were on a jaunt in the Gaithersburg area doing I-don’t-remember-what, but I got hungry (which is the important thing), and Dan gave me the option to eat Indian, Thai or Filipino. Since I have never tried Filipino, I decided to be adventurous and try it. Boy, what an adventure!

Atmosphere: The restaurant has a bit of a cafeteria style feel to it, with a large buffet counter where you choose your food, and some tables facing a large television showing Filipino programs. We were lucky to catch a Filipino program where lots and lots of beautiful Filipino ladies danced around the screen while a grinning Filipino man commented on their performance. The clientele was almost entirely Filipino, so if you want to get immersed in a new culture, this place is perfect. It’s cozy and unassuming and is great for a casual meal.

Service: Dan and I were talking to each other excitedly, pointing at every interesting-looking item in the buffet and speculating as to their contents, obviously looking like folks who have never tried Filipino food before. The staff and a couple of customers all joined in to tell us the best things to get and gave us encouraging smiles and pats on the back for being adventurous and trying their food. So, don’t be intimidated and head out there! Everyone will jump in to help you out.

Food: The food here is simply an explosion of exotic flavors. We tried “ukyo,” a lightly fried concoction of shredded green papaya and shrimp, that we dipped in an onion vinegar sauce. The “ukyo” is a sure hit for anyone. It’s a delicious fried pancake with just a hint of the unknown with its green papaya. So if you’re scared of trying something new, this is the item to get. It’s familiar in it’s fried goodness, and yet different enough that you can boast to yourself and your friends that you are a culinary risk taker. We also got adobo squid (perfectly tender) and tamarind fish soup (a slightly sour yet sweet soup). I was grinning from ear-to-ear at having gotten such a magnificent feast for such a small amount of money. I am such a sucker for fabulous bargains.

Summary: Cafe Pampanguena is a delicious restaurant filled with friendly staff and customers who are all eager to share their native food with you. At the low prices of the food, you can try one of everything, and you probably should. This is a place I would definitely go to again. I just wish they were located next to my work, so I could go more often.

It’s actually called “Okoy.” Thanks for the review!

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From Yelp Reviews

PPG cafe is listed on yelp.com, where everyone can post reviews of great eats.  Here are some of customer reviews:

I gave this restaurant five stars because in my opinion it’s the best FILIPINO restaurant in the DC area.  Everyone who is familiar with Filipino food knows that people from the Philippine province of Pampanga are known for their culinary skills.  The Pampangueña is owned by true kapampangans and the food there holds true to that fact.  The interior is clean and well maintained, and the ambiance is subdued and relaxing.  Americans would also feel comfortable in this restaurant’s environment. Ron H.

Being away from my comfort foods which are so easily accessible in SF, I was very happy to find Pampanguena!  I mean, this place is class…and that’s coming from someone who just came back from the Philippines a couple of weeks ago.  They have the full on bakery section with classics such as siopao, empanadas, and hopia.  They’ve got the chicken and pork BBQ, the sisig and chicharon, and they have a very complete turo-turo -cafeteria style- selection of favorites like adobo, kare-kare, etc.  They even have a complete dessert section, and pasalubong.  To top it off, you can catch all your latest filipino soap operas because their TV’s on TFC (the filipino channel)! Mark D.

Thank you for the great comments, please keep them comming!



Tyler Cowens
October 20, 2008, 3:32 am
Filed under: Media | Tags: ,

Tyler Cowen’s Review

I don’t usually include the excellent Gaithersburg in this guide (just too far for me), but how many good Filipino places do we have? A Filipino reader says this is the best one around.

Comments:

Cafe Pampanguena is authentic, inexpensive, and a great favorite among Filipinos in the DC area who know that the province of Pampanga, just north of Manila, is the culinary capital of the Philippines. (Current White House Chef, Cristeta Cromerford, is from Pampanga.) Unlike some ethnic Asian restaurants in the DC area that have Americanized their fare, or prepare dishes that only the wealthy can afford back home, the Pampanguena hasn’t changed one crumb of their authentic provincial recipes. The dishes and ingredients are not often found in the US. Try the “okoy,” made from shredded green papaya, topped with shrimp, and lightly fried. The Filipino barbecue is sweet and smoky. Rarely found in the US is a rich dessert, “san srival (spelling?),” a cake created with generous amounts of butter, sugar, and flour, topped with a creamy icing of butter, crushed cashews and peanuts. Diners will find about 20-30 dishes, with take-out and special orders available. The atmosphere is simple, super clean, and friendly. All dishes are served cafeteria style, making the cost even more reasonable. George

Yes, this place is awesome! I miss a lot of Filipino dishes that my Mom cooked for me when I was in Philippines. Finally, I found this place that could satisfy my cravings. Michelle



Review From Don Rockwell
October 20, 2008, 2:59 am
Filed under: Media | Tags: , , , ,

From: Don Rockwell Website

donrockwell.com

The Rockville Pike Lunch Club had today’s meeting at this little Filipino buffet spot located in the late lamented (at least by me) Pho Quyen space.

Seeing our looks of befuddlement at the names of the Filipino dishes, the manager kindly went through all dozen or so items with us.

Great lunch deal — a heap of rice and two buffet items for $6.50.

I had a pork kebab that was good if a little on the dry side. The glaze was somewhat somewhat sweet with a hint of what must be peanuts.
My other was the “restaurant speciality” a braised beef. Done very nicely. The sauce was very thick and a little sweet with nice round spices. A couple of dabs of Sriracha (recommended by the manager) served very well to round out the beef.

Serving size was quite reasonable. Enough to fill you up without forcing you to take home two meals worth of food in a doggy bag.

All in all quite satisfactory. I look forward to going back soon and trying more items.



The Examiner Review
October 20, 2008, 2:49 am
Filed under: Media | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Washington DC – The Examiner

Get your fill of Filipino at Pampanguena

By: Alexandra Greeley

To anyone curious about Filipino cooking, the Washington area has not, until now, offered many restaurant options to explore the cuisine. All that is about to change with the recently opened Pampanguena Café in Rockville. Quite by surprise, this enterprise, which has replaced a Vietnamese restaurant, looks like it is going to make headlines and succeed where its predecessor failed.

Huge portions of food served from the cafeteria line or prepared by special order and very low prices are a few reasons why. And, for most of us, an entirely new eating experience. How many Washington, after all, know or can pronounce such exotic sounding dishes as rellenong ampalaya ($4, stuffed bitter melon), pancit palabok ($5.50, sautéed egg noodles with pork, shrimp and green onions), or the tongue-twister kaderetang kambing ($9.99, goat meat stewed with tomato sauce).

For the uninitiated, Filipino cooking is mix of Chinese, Spanish and Malaysian, with some overtones of Indian and American seasonings and ingredients. While the dishes may sound very exotic, the flavors are comfortably familiar and few dishes are spiked with anything remotely resembling Thai Chilli. Because of this, it would not surprise anybody if Filipino food becomes of D.C.’s next culinary superstars, replacing the flashier Thai-Indian-Middle Eastern-Vietnamese feeding frenzies.

We managed to settle on the goat stew (a special order at $9.99), rice, chicken adobo and pork stew. The latter two, as are most items on the buffet, were priced at two entrees, $5.99. The goat stew is always a special order apparently, and if you like the pungency of goat meat, the stew is great bet, just slightly spiced and very rich.

Not every dish listed on their menu appears on the steam table, and if you want something special- such as those dishes listed on the board behind the cashier register- you’ll need to order them separately. You’ll find two lists there: one called “entrees” and one called “specials.” The prices are comparable.

Save room for the dessert cart, where you’ll find the Filipino-iced classic, halo-halo. Ideal for summer and for an afternoon tea break at any time- and also for dessert, obviously- this iced treat yields to none for its inherent texture and taste combinations: a mound of shaved ice buries such exotic bits of fruit as jackfruit, toddy palm, papaya, bananas and beans. Milk and sugar add texture and flavor; and if you order the “special” halo-halo ($4.50), you’ll receive a scoop of brilliantly lavender ice cream as the garnish.