It’s the day after my fiftieth birthday and I decided to give myself a long awaited treat. Ever since I saw the new “pan-Asian” restaurant storefront pop up on the ever-changing Ditmas Park landscape, I’ve wanted to pop in – but never found the right moment – plus I live with a bit of a picky eater whose tastes are somewhat broader than the average diner, but still limited when it comes to Southeast Asian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipino cuisine. So I’m alone on a rainy afternoon and decided to give myself a little birthday present.
The Purple Yam on Cortelyou Road in Ditmas Park is an exciting addition to the growing choices of places to dine out in our little corner of Brooklyn. If you would have told me ten years that a casual pan-Asian restaurant with a Filipino based menu would be opening up within walking distance of the Cortelyou Road stop on the N train I would have said “Get out!”
Granted, Filipino and Indonesian cuisines have had a hard time making a foothold on the East Coast in general – when only twenty years ago did Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese cuisines begin to become mainstays in Asian dining in Brooklyn. West Coasters have long appreciated “alternative” Asian cuisines, compared to the standard fare that was offered for decades by Americanized Mandarin and Szechuan menus here in the Tri-State area. But I’m glad to see there is finally a market for a more daring, less cliché Asian fare in our neighborhood.
For brunch, I enjoyed the Fresh Lumpia with peanut and tamarind sauce as a starter. I requested some sambal (a hot chili paste condiment) with my appetizer and it looked as if the charming and eloquent chef Romy Dorotan (Romy and partner chef Amy Besa – formerly from Cendrillon in Soho) had whipped it up from scratch. As a main course I had a noodle dish – Pancit Luglug – thick rice noodles with ground pork and shrimp in a delicate but well-spiced sauce. So delicious. For dessert, I had the special Filipino lime meringue pie with a scoop of guava ice-cream and a raspberry sauce. Magnificent!
Don’t wait for a rainy day to go to the Purple Yam! Support local businesses now.
Frank H. Jump
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Purple Yam website: