Our StorY

Kaliwa on the Wharf.jpg

Kaliwa is a love story; a tribute to a family and the ancient cultures it comes from. The dishes on our menu are personal culinary favorites, representing pride in our Southeast Asian culture.


Chef Cathal Armstrong was sent to Thailand as a representative of the State Department to teach a culinary school how to cook Western cuisine. He returned with a new perspective and passion for the Thai culture and local ingredients, which influenced his approach as a chef.  


The Armstrong family spent years in the Tae-Kwon-Do circuit as Cathal Armstrong, as well as his two children, are 2nd degree black belts in the martial art. During the years of traveling, the Armstrongs fell in love with the Korean food that nurtured and sustained them.


Meshelle Armstrong’s family owned Little Quiapo restaurant for over 25 years. When it closed down, her husband, Chef Cathal, loved the culture so much he said, “One day…” And now, here we are.

the kaliwa team

Photo by Scott Suchman

Photo by Scott Suchman

Chef Cathal Armstrong—Chef, Author Restaurateur

Chef Armstrong is a Best Mid-Atlantic Chef nominee by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, 2012, 2013; selected as both Food & Wine magazine’s “10 Best New Chefs 2006” and honored in Food & Wine magazine’s “50 Hall of Fame Best New Chefs” and Best Chef Award Winner by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington DC.

National Magazines have featured Armstrong’s commitment to culinary excellence and Irish “farm to table” style in prominent stories in Oprah, Food and Wine, Cookie, Parents, Southern Living & Martha Stewart. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC World News, NY Times, and The Irish Times have taken note of his culinary prowess and his dedication to ending childhood obesity.

Rave reviews continue as Armstrong stretches out with complex, thoughtful cooking that knits together his Irish upbringing, his French training, and his grasp of the American culinary moment.

Photo by Alexa Bendek/StarChefs.

Photo by Alexa Bendek/StarChefs.

Chef Paolo Dungca—Chef de cuisine

 A native of the Philippines, Dungca moved to Los Angeles when he was just a teenager. His first culinary job was at an Italian restaurant in Disneyland. He rose through the ranks quickly, landing himself at Kevin Meehan's Kali.

In 2014, Dungca moved to Washington, DC and worked under Chef Jeffrey Buben at Vidalia. In 2015, he was hired to be the opening sous chef of Bad Saint . At the same time he started Timpla, a supper club featuring Filipino-inspired dishes. It was while showcasing Timpla at an event that he met Chef Cathal Armstrong. Dungca was instantly drawn to his strong presence and mission to support local farmers, sustainability, and product-sourcing.

Since working at Restaurant Eve, Paolo has honed his cooking techniques and learned how to lead and run a successful restaurant. Paolo and Chef Armstrong work closely to research and innovate Filipino, Korean, and Thai dishes for Kaliwa. Dungca has also been a recognized as a semifinalist in Eater's 2017 Young Guns.