1314 Cortelyou Rd (Rugby Rd)
City: Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 940-8188
Area: Ditmas Park
When we arrived at Purple Yam we found a packed house with a crowd standing by the door waiting for tables. No, this wasn't a Saturday night in SoHo. It was Sunday and a pretty dreary one at that, in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn which made the crowd even more surprising. Or maybe not.
Maybe it was the look of the place with its high ceilings, bulky wood tables, and slate floors done up in a minimalist fashion. Or the friendly bar up front where you could enjoy a meal while sipping a Filipino beer, or a glass of wine from a carefully crafted wine list. Or, the fun ratan lamps hanging above some of the booths resembling boats that swept us off to a fishing village in a far off land.
Or maybe it was the food that chef Romy Dorotan is putting on those bulky tables. Things like crunchy spring rolls filled with pork and vegetables perfect for dipping, or a salad of fresh greens, sweet pomelo, green mango and sliced jicama ($8) that couldn't have been any fresher. Or it could have been the spicy tofu soup ($10) swimming with manila clams and baby shrimp, or the barbecued spare ribs prepared Chinese style ($18) with a spicy rub and lively tamirand sauce served with a pair of baked yams. And then there was the the Lechon Kawali ($18), deep fried pork belly, that I am still dreaming about; tender pieces of pork with its crunchy skin intact served with a jalepeno-soy dipping sauce. Simply delicious. A close runner up is the duck leg ($13), slow cooked in a banana leaf with coconut milk and balinese spices until the meat literally falls off the bone.
There are several other dishes worthy of attention, like wild boar pizza made famous at Cendrillon (its former name at its former home in SoHo), Korean meatballs with kimchi in purple yam pockets, and a daring dish called Sisig; pig cheeks. ears and snout in limes and chillies.
And don't pass up on desserts like Buko Pie ($6); filled with young coconut in a velvety custard, and an apple tart ($6) standing barely a quarter inch high, packed with thinly-sliced apples in a sweet cinnamony sauce. Both arriving with a scoop of coconut ice cream. Or you may want to opt for a scoop of homemade Purple Yam ice cream that my son simply referred to as "purple yum".
Yes, you'll find lots of yummy treats here, including a beautiful bamboo garden that we're hoping to visit come spring. That is if we can wait that long.
Review By: Thomas Rafael