WASHINGTON DC —About 8 years ago, chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain told this dynamic duo of old town restaurateurs to pursue their dream Filipino restaurant in the DC area.
“He said you should do it, because a lot of people don’t know this food, it was a little encouragement from Anthony Bourdain to do that,” said Meshelle Armstrong.
Meshelle’s husband, Chef Cathal Armstrong, is known for serving up the ultimate anniversary dinners for President Barack and Michelle Obama at their 4-star “Restaurant Eve.”
When their Eamonn’s Dublin chipper was featured on Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” – Cathal says Bourdain already knew the potential of the Filipino cuisine.
“That was at least 8 years ago that he had already seen that there was this new thing developing… new to this area and newly exposed to this area; that there’s something really elegant and stylish there.”
“To lose a culinary giant is very difficult,” said Meshelle. “I remember one of the quotes that he said, to enjoy food, you have to take risks, I think with Kaliwa, that’s basically what we’re doing.”
Kaliwa is a 177-seat Filipino restaurant the Armstrongs recently opened 2 months ago, at the up-and-coming Wharf District.
From coco shell chandeliers to Philippine-made furniture and décor, Meshelle made sure the interior showcases her Filipino roots.
“Kaliwa is kind of a reflection with my wife probably more than anything else; we’re together for 28 years, I kind of fell in love with her culture a long long time ago.”
Their bestsellers include Filipino street barbecue and chicken inasal cooked over a firewood grill, as well as Meshelle’s mom’s lumpia.
For dessert, their halo-halo, sticky rice and bibingka are among guest favorites.
“One of the big things I’ve learned from Chef Armstrong is, to produce good quality food, your ingredients should be one of the best ingredients or sourced from the best,” says Paolo Dungca, Chef De Cuisine.
Street-food style snacks such as isaw and adidas will be served soon in time for the 4th of July celebrations at Kaliwa’s waterfront kiosk, just across from the restaurant.