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Pampangueña Cafe, Filipino Home-Style Cooking on Frederick Road in Derwood - Closed

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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.

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Did you try the lumpia?

Neither of us tried the lumpia (Filipino eggrolls), though I think you could have chosen that as one of your two meat dishes.

I also had the braised beef, and a chicken stew as my two choices. I thought the chicken was tasty, but not hot enough. Not as in spicy, as in served at room temperature. Weird for a steam table.

I would definitely go back. They had a lot of other stew-type dishes there, several other pork choices, and an oxtail stew that looked interesting. On the way out they were putting a soup in a crock; it looked like congee!

I'd never had Filipino food before, but I couldn't differentiate it much from Malaysian. A lot of the dishes were described as "sweet", so that seems to be a preferred taste. Nothing was labeled as spicy, though the manager did suggest that people like to put on their own hot sauce afterwards.

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"We're getting into the weird part," my young dining companion said about our Halo-Halo Special ($4.95). If you've never tried a Halo-Halo, the "weird part" is at the bottom - a seemingly innocent dessert of shaved ice, condensed milk, a scoop of ice cream, all concealing these ... these ... things at the bottom that you're supposed to spoon up, indistinguishable from body parts. Oh, once you know what they all are it seems very fine and normal: mung beans, palm fruit, caramelized plantains, flan, coconut sport, yam, some sort of gelatin - it all varies from restaurant-to-restaurant, but it's all very "Friday The 13th" to a kid.

This weekend was my first visit to Pampangueí±a Cafe, and from my one experience, it's hands-down the best Philippine restaurant in the Washington, DC area (and I'm pretty sure I've been to them all now). It's authentic, inexpensive, and a very good introduction into this little-known cuisine.


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I dropped by last night and got the cafeteria-style meal--was quite pleased by a stewed beef dish (wow!) and a nice noodle dish with sausage and chicken. The rice was a little dry but I walked away with a great meal (plus lumpia) for $10. I am coming back to try the other dishes!

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Pampangueña Cafe seems to be closed on Mondays. The first time I tried to go there it was closed. I came back the following week (on a Tuesday), and it was open. Unfortunately, the food was steam table tired and dried out. I ordered adobo and sweet pork, and could not finish either. Did I order wrong? I am willing to try again.

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On 3/22/2018 at 12:42 PM, pras said:

I picked up carryout the other night before the impeding storm.  I noticed that the Filipino spot next door was closed and that there were building permits posted in the windows.  I asked the person who helped me at Big Wang what was going in and he said that they were taking over the space and were essentially doubling their size (which is already on the large side).  He said they will be open in about 2 months and will have an expanded menu. 

I always appreciated Pampangueña including JPW's review on their website, and I'm sad they're gone - they really were the very best FIlipino restaurant in the DC area in their time. Granted, that wasn't saying all that much, as the couple of other places served from steam tables, but Pampangueña was numero uno a decade ago.

Screenshot 2018-03-24 at 19.28.48.png

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