Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Purple Yam 01-19-2010

Location: 1314 Cortelyou Rd.
Time: 7:30pm
People: 12 Ramen and Friends: ALev, MGru, JBH, BLee, TrishP, JLam from MeSoHungry, MDunc, Laura, MLev, Rich, RB and myself

Feelings: JNu and CBert introduced me to Ditmas Park area last year, and since then I have been eager to try the new Filipino Pan Asian restaurant, Purple Yam. It turns out to be owned by the same people of Cendrillon in Soho (now closed), which used to be RB's and my favorite restaurant. It is extremely difficult to find vegetarian friendly dishes at Filipino restaurants, but I recall Cendrillon's food to be deliciously umami-centric.

Purple Yam seems to be a critics' favorite, from NY times to Times Out. Even the table next to us turned out to be a group of notable food writers. I don't usually care for critics' favorites since most of them are overpriced and overcrowded, but Purple Yam is an attainable Brooklyn treasure at an unpretentious $7-$18. The service was fantastic, and they handled a large group in a filled dining room without any problems. My glass of water never got empty, not even for a second.

They had a plenty of vegetarian dishes, but I somehow settled with their daily special, Laksa ($16). I felt idiotic ordering a Malaysian dish at Filipino place, and the dish turned out to be sadly bland and under-seasoned. I chose poorly. I felt like that guy who orders Teriyaki chicken at an authentic Japanese restaurant.

Despite the disappointment over my Laksa, the rest of the group thoroughly enjoyed their meat dishes. BLee's Tocino ($6 pork sliders in purple yam pan de sal) and the whole fish were tasty and decadent. The rest enjoyed Chiken Adobo ($16), Oxtail Kare Kare ($17), Lechon Kawali ($18, deep fried pork belly), and Tamarind Shrimp with rice cakes wrapped in Pandan leaves ($15). JBH thought the Chicken Adobo was overly salty but was a big fan of the shrimp dish. JLam was a little disappointed to find that his Lumpia ($7) was not deep fried, but instead came in a fresh crepe form. I believe what he was looking for was Lumpia Shanghai, but they were not available for dinner.

I tasted a little bit of Pancit Bihon ($12, Filipino rice noodles), but it was oversalted. Perhaps at Purple Yam, you should skip noodles and go for their hearty meat or veggie dishes. All plates looked very clean and polished, and they seemed to have their own modern take on authentic Filipino cuisine.

You should also not forget to order their dessert, Buko Pie with a scoop of macapuno ice cream ($6). It was creamy and perfectly sweet with the kick of coconut aroma. I would skip the flan ($6) and famous Filipino dessert, Halo Halo ($6, Filipino version of Kakigori or Patpingsu) here and go straight to the scrumptious Buko Pie. Their Halo Halo was good too, but the ice chunks were too large and was not able to fully bring the shaved ice experience.

Overall, we had a great time and enjoyed each other's company and the superb service. It is a little far out in the city, but Ditmas Park is an amazing community with many eccentric restaurants and people. I am sure if Purple Yam was in Manhattan, I would have spent $20 extra tonight, but thanks to the up and coming area of Ditmas, gastronomes like us could enjoy high quality meal without breaking the bank.

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