Pampanguena Cafe, 16041 Frederick Road (Route 355), Gaithersburg (technically Derwood), MD, 240-631-2210 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [City Paper | Don Rockwell | Gayot]
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.
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 “ukyo,” 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.
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.
You were close, the dessert is spelled Sans Rival which literally means “without rival.”
Thanks for the review of Pampanguena Cafe! Here is the website of pampanguena:
It’s actually “Ukoy” not ‘ukyo’ and it is shredded squash or ‘Kalabasa’ and not green papaya.
–I volunteered at the restaurant when it opened