If new restaurants opening in the D.C. area this spring are any indication, Filipino food is trending. Despite having a similar flavor profile to popular Asian cuisines, Filipino fare has only recently entered the mainstream in the U.S. “The first wave of Filipino immigrants was mostly highly skilled workers,” says Alexander Orquiza, a food historian at Harvard University. “The children of that era are more adventurous professionally and willing to open restaurants.” Others are simply capitalizing on the trend. Here are four places where you can experience the cuisine, including one that is still in the works.
3155 Mount Pleasant St. NW
Co-owner Patrice Cleary can’t help but play favorites at her new family-style restaurant in Mount Pleasant. “The two dishes I absolutely love are guinataan, [which is] sauteed shrimp with kale, coconut milk and onion, and escabeche, a fried red snapper marinated in garlic and vinegar,” Cleary says. In addition to Filipino classics like chicken adobo (prepared with vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, soy sauce and peppercorn), Purple Patch serves American fare like beef sliders and steak. “Why not?” Cleary says. It’s what her family enjoys.
Lumpia Pansit Atbp.
11160 Veirs Mill Road, Wheaton, Md.
Lumpia Pansit Atbp., a mom-and-pop shop in Gaithersburg, Md., recently opened this second location at the Westfield Wheaton mall. Owner Cho Ortega serves new dishes like Hawaiian pulled pork in addition to the Filipino spring rolls her business is named after. “Fresh lumpia is my signature dish,” Ortega says, referring to the non-fried variety. “I make my own egg-flour crepe, and the lumpia is made out of sauteed jicama and green beans.” By the way, “atbp.” means “etc.”
7940 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda, Md., opening Thursday
Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s latest features twists on Filipino classics like lumpia, adobo and bibingka (coconut rice cake). “We’re not just doing Filipino food, we’re doing contemporary Asian,” says Cliff Wharton, head chef at the two-story venue. This includes Korean barbecue and a tuna bar, where you’ll find sushi, sashimi and tartare. Wharton served as chef de cuisine at TenPenh — an Asian-fusion spot in D.C. that closed in 2011 — and lived in the Philippines until he was 5.
3226 11th St. NW, opening this spring
Co-owners Nick Pimentel (a partner at nearby Room 11) and Genevieve Villamora are hoping to showcase FIlipino specialties and deep cuts at their Columbia Heights restaurant. “We want our menu to be a mix of the classic dishes people are expecting and some lesser-known dishes that may be something new even for Filipino-Americans,” Villamora says. Bad Saint will accommodate about two dozen people at full capacity; an outdoor patio is also planned.
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