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Nov 22, 2009 02:42 PM

Purple Yam

Well, after some chat recently with some fellow Outer Boro-ers about new restaurants that disappoint, I'm pleased to report that this is one new restaurant that didn't -- at all.

We went on Friday night -- three of us, including one Filipino (not terribly relevant but it was interesting to hear a bit of his back and forth with Romy, one of the owners, about some of the dishes and their origins).

We started with the Korean meatballs, which are served on a tiny baguette made of purple yam flour, which were delicious, a bit reminiscent of the whole Asian sandwich craze that's swept the city -- but I'm a fan, so keep it coming. They were served with a small side of kimchi, which I liked so much, I inisisted we get a full side order of it. It was spicy without being overpoweringly so, and had a fresher cleaner taste than I have sometimes had.

Our other starter was the sisig, which is chopped meat from the various components of the pig's face, here flavored with lime and garlic. This was the one thing I didn't really like -- I found the texture (soft chunks -- no crispiness) and overwhelming pig flavor somewhat offputting. My companions scarfed it down though, although my Filipino friend commented that at home it is usually served sizzling -- which might have dealt with some of my complaints. Romy explained that he uses a piglet instead of a pig as I guess is usually used -- so it doesn't need to be as fried, but I might have liked it better if it was.

For mains we had the vegetarian bi bim bop (shitake mushrooms and squash), which is made with a very short grained "heirloom" filipino rice. It was very flavorful and surprisingly light. We also had the lechon, crispy piglet belly with a dipping sauce of soy and vinegar that was so good we contemplated having a 2nd order despite being stuffed, and pancit, a noodle dish that was also very tasty.

For dessert, a flan-type thing (fine, standard) and champarrado -- basically a soupy chocolate rice pudding with coffee ice cream that hit my chocolate button perfectly.

We tried a few of the flavored soju's -- ginger was more of a hit then the lime -- and had a very reasonably ($26) priced bottle of Aglianico that went fine with the food.

The total bill including drinks and tip was about $60/pp, though you could certainly eat and drink less than we did and be happy.

The room was bustling and I worried about service issues and long waits given how new it is, but every thing worked well, and Romy is working the room which adds a nice personal touch.

Clearly, this is Filipino accented Asian fusion type food -- not a direct equivalent with Filipino places in Woodside -- but it is exciting and tasty, and despite the long schlep to Ditmas Park from my house, I will be back. I only went to Cendrillon once many years ago, but it seems like the food here is bolder and more flavorful than what the same owners were doing there. There's a garden out back which should be nice come spring.

Purple Yam
1314 Cortelyou Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11226

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  1. Alternate suggestions for the budget conscious:

    Philippine Bread House on Newark Ave. in Jersey City with various ube breads, fresh pandesal and more goodies than one can carry.

    This sisig is sizzling at Renee's on Roosevelt Ave. in Woodside.

    Lechon (hornado) is sold at numerous stands at Warren St/Roosevelt Ave at Junction Blvd station on 7 line. Typically a pig's head is displayed for effect.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MahatmaKanejeeves

      If the implied message is that Purple Yam is kind of pricey, I would agree. I live in the neighborhood and have eaten there twice. It is pretty good, but I walked out with a surprisingly large check both times feeling kind of pleased but not totally sated. The portions are small; it's hard to distinguish starters from entrees. A curried vegetable dish, for example, is around $12 and it is a side dish--does not come with rice or anything along those lines. DOn't get me wrong, the place is pretty good--the vegetable sauce was tasty and the veggies that comprised it fairly exotic--but the whole experience did not totally make sense. The goat entree was good and piquant but tiny--appetizer size, really, and I am not a manhhandler-sized entree type of person. The kimchee fried rice was very yummy. I guess they are still working out kinks. It is a pretty room.

      1. re: gnosh

        It is not neighborhoody cheap, but for food I enjoyed I didn't think it was expensive. But everyone's mileage will vary on this question, obviously.

        I did notice on Friday night that we were served rice with our lechon, even though my friend had warned me that we would have to order rice separately if we wanted it. So maybe they recognized what you mention, Gnosh.

        I agree that there is no distinction made on the menu between appetizers and entrees, and if you read their website, you'll see this is intentional. We just told them what we wanted to start, and what we wanted as entrees, and did it that way. But if you are worried about cost/amount of food, you would be wise to make some inquries as to size, which does vary.

        1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten

          I went for Brunch this Sunday and did not feel that the food was over-priced for what was offered. We ordered alot of food (sharing everything so everyone could taste each dish) and the bill was $125-ish for 5, pre-tip.

          FWIW, I'm a Filipino-American and my folks said they felt the Bibingka (cassava cake) was the best they'd ever eaten -- even better than back home. I'm not a bibingka connoisseur, but I would same about the Pancit of my favorite dishes and one I've eaten both here and the PI.

          We'll be back, for sure. But for dinner this time.

          1. re: Al Navarro

            I don't know how it is during the week, but we stopped by about 10 to 6 Saturday night, and the guy at the door said he could seat us but would need the table by seven (we ate at the Farm instead)-so if you're counting on eating you may want to reserve your place.

    2. This thread hasn't been active in a few months so I figure I'll weigh in w/ last night's experience. Purple Yam is spendy when compared to Ihawan and other straight up Filipino joints that are geared directly to Filipinos, but it's about in-line price-wise when compared to Kuma Inn and Umi Nom which are more modern, updated takes on Filipino food and geared towards practically anyone except vegetarians/vegans.

      So last night we shared:

      Lumpia: big and warm and filling if it was just one of us eating it. Instead, it got split 3 ways. As the only "vegetable" dish we ordered, it served the purpose of making us feel less guilty about eating...

      Sisig! - on a sizzling platter, but not crispy which was fine. It was saltier than I expected, but when mixed w/ white rice, it's tastier. I wondered if the salt was to mask the flavor of the ears and snout which some may not find appealing. Mix it w/ white rice and it's good.

      Bistec: This was an off-menu special. Skirt steak marinated in kalamansi and soy and served on a bed of steamed bok choy. It was good and I'd order this again just for myself.

      Lechon Kewali: The star of the night. Crispy chunks of pork belly served w/ a soy vinegar sauce w/ chunks of garlic and pepper floating around, and some pickled veggies to cut the richness. We loved it and wished cholesterol was good for us so we could eat more of it.

      Chinese smoked bbq ribs: They're ok, but I probably wouldn't order again. Came w/ some kind of smoky, spicy sauce, but somehow didn't work for me. Served on steamed bok choy.

      Bagoong fried rice: It's fermented shrimp paste and rice fried together. It's good, but we would've been better off ordering plain white rice to complement all the other dishes we ordered. Afterall, bagoong's pretty strong already so you had to eat the rice on it's own instead of mixing it w/ other foods as Filipinos normally do.

      Buko pie: A bigger portion than I thought. Served warm w/ ice cream. It's a winner.

      40-06 70th St, Queens, NY 11377

      Purple Yam
      1314 Cortelyou Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11226

      Umi Nom
      433 DeKalb Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

      5 Replies
      1. re: GoodGravy

        Well it's been years since this thread was replied to but I've been thinking of trying Purple Yam. I wasn't sure if it was going to be like Cendrillon or more authentic Filipino food. The owner's Filipino Cookbook is fantastic. So I know he has the potential to make great Filipino food. Although Purple Yam sounds like it mixes some fusion dishes in, I'm happy to hear that the lechon kawali was good and some other "Filipino dishes". I hope the buko pie is as good as I've had in the Phils.

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          Hope you try Purple Yam and report back Its been too long since we've been out there, but it was very flavorsome but refined Filipino food. Certainly some creative touches but on a Filipino taste base, as far as I could tell Lots of Filipino families in evidence, pleasant room and hosts..

          1. re: jen kalb

            I will surely try Purple Yam one of these days soon. I am hoping for good Filipino taste. Although I thought Cendrillon was very good quality, it strayed from the traditional taste that I craved. In Manhattan Grill 21 is really the only traditional place, and the quality varies greatly from visit to visit.
            I was wondering why Romy opened in such a strange area in Brooklyn. Meaning , Wiliamsburg, Park Slope, Red Hook ,etc are on fire. Then I drove by, I cannot believe how that neighborhood by Ditmas has changed. I was totally amazed. I guess he had the right idea.

          2. re: foodwhisperer

            I haven't been for a couple of years, but at the time I thought Romy's fusion-y dishes were less successful than those that hewed more closely to his roots. I was a huge fan of Cendrillon.

            1. re: Peter Cuce

              I finally got to Purple Yam. It is amazing how that neighborhood has changed. I too was a big fan of Cendrillon. I also am a fan of Romy's Filipino Cookbook.
              The Amy's Spring roll ( his grandma's recipe) was not very good. Next time I'll try the lumping shanghai instead.
              The menu has several Korean dishes, and it looked like he had some Korean workers there.
              The Bagoong Fried Rice was the best dish we had. It had truly the right taste. Perhaps the best I've had in any restaurant in NY. But if you're not used to that fermented taste it might be too strong for some.
              The lechon kawali was very good.
              Pancit luglug was just OK. Not much flavor.
              For dessert the Buko Pie was good. The crust was really good. It was no where as good as you get at Colette's near Tagaytay

        2. Here's CHOW's review of Purple Yam on NY1. (We still like it!)

          --Alex Van Buren
          Contributing Editor,

          Purple Yam
          1314 Cortelyou Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11226