PURPLE YAM MALATE: A Taste of Reimagined Filipino Food and Revival of Malate?! @PurpleYamNYC


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PURPLE YAM MALATE is the local branch of the popular Purple Yam Modern Filipino Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. It was founded in 2007 by Amy Besa and Chef Romy Dorotan of Cendrillon fame in Soho. Its name was inspired by the owner’s love of ube. 🙂

The Malate branch is only open on weekends now open every day for by-reservation private dining — dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays (no more brunch on Sundays). The owners describe their restaurant as a “serious dining” establishment (as opposed to a fine dining one).

The opening of Purple Yam is sure to create a buzz among the foodies in Manila and hopefully usher in the revival of Malate.

Rache and I brought the boys with us to try the Sunday brunch during their opening weekend. Here’s what we think…

PURPLE YAM MALATE – Reimagining Filipino Food
PY Territorio, Inc.
603 Julio Nakpil corner Bacobo, Malate, Manila
Contact: Amy Besa
Email: purpleyamph@gmail.com
Reservations: +632 523-3497
Mobile:+63 917 870 5760
FacebookPurple Yam

Operating Hours (Set Menu price):
Reservations required at least two days in advance, open everyday

Dinner: (P2,500/head)
Lunch: (P2,000/head)
Inclusive of 12% VAT & non-alcoholic drinks
Exclusive of 12% Service Charge

Mode of Payment: Cash Basis only.

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Purple Yam is located at Amy Besa’s ancestral home built in 1949, along the famous J. Nakpil Street in Malate (near Casa Armas).

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The entire house is air-conditioned, with a seating capacity of 24, and renovated with homey Filipino interiors.

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There’s a special private room that you can reserve for 10-12 people.

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The room features a Botong Francisco piece and various memorabilia owned by the Besa family.

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The set menu changes every weekend, depending on what’s freshly available, but they retain the bestsellers in the selections. The initial menu is a curated list of some of the favorites from Cendrillon and Purple Yam in NYC.

PURPLE YAM MALATE MENU: Sunday Brunch July 6, 2014 Menu | Cocktails, Wines

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✮ Cured Tuna & Tanigue with ✮ Soft-boiled Organic Duck Egg (Victoria, Laguna), Native Greens, Green Mango Salad.

I like the combination of the talbos ng kamote, local greens, and asim from the green mango. We love the soft-boiled organic duck egg — so soft and malasa that the boys devoured them immediately.

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The tuna is cooked gravlax-style — a little bit raw, chewy but tasty. I enjoyed the boys’ leftovers. 🙂

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✮ Old-fashioned Ginger Ale by Standford & Shaw Brewing Co.

RJ Ledesma introduced us to ginger ale and we’ve loved it ever since. We like the freshly brewed one from Salcedo Market at P200/bottle, and they serve it in Purple Yam! 🙂

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The service staff is still young and unsure, but they are very helpful and friendly.

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Pandesal Slider with Pig Mascara and Kesong Puti (Shahani Farm, Pangasinan).

This is like lechon cheeks bagnet pandesal, which is something different, but we’ve tasted better combinations. We love the kesong puti though.

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✮ Sorsogon Bay Crabcake with Green Papaya Salad.

You can really taste the crab meat flavors that go really well with the sourness of the green papaya, and a bit of umami from the taba ng talangka.

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It was interesting to see this natural iodized salt in nipa leaves container displayed in the sala. It’s from Camara’s property in Danacbunga, Zambales.

(Trivia: Amy is a Camara (momside) and the property is now owned by her cousin, Philip Camara and his wife, Ching Roxas Camara who owns a sustainable and organic farm in Zambales.)

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In Purple Yam they let the flavors of the ingredients speak for themselves. Iodized salt is served on the side if you’d like to add a bit more saltiness to your food.

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✮ Kalabasa and Buttermilk Pancake with ✮ Grilled Tocino marinated in Achuete Virgin Coconut Oil.

The pancakes and grilled tocino are really good individually, but don’t seem to work well when combined.

Best to eat them separately, or save the grilled tocino for when the tapa and rice arrive.

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✮ Banana Chutney, ✮ Langka Chutney, and ✮ Casuy Honey from Palawan.

These are the best pancake sauces ever! I recommend mixing the banana and langka chutney, then adding the casuy honey for the best Filipino pancake experience.

Bottled versions of these sauces would be a hit in Manila. 🙂

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In between courses, the boys enjoyed playing around in the long couch.

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✮ Beef Tapa with Dulong & Garlic Fried Rice.

The beef tapa was homemade and very flavorful, but a bit bitin because it’s sliced thin.

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They serve Milagros rice from Ventura Farms in Cagayan, fried with garlic and tultol salt from Guimaras, shaved table-side.

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It was educational for the boys to see tultol. Kids today are very lucky to experience different artisanal products and flavors.

(Trivia: The tultul is the block of salt from Guimaras which traditionally is used to wipe the block of salt on rice as viand — poverty food. People put them in their pockets as a ready substitute for viand.)

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✮ Dalandan with Coconut Sugar.

Instead of ginger ale, you can order fresh dalandan juice with coconut sugar.

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Bitters are extracts from flowers, roots, shoots, and herbs. The scientists of Shoots & Roots have put together different flavor profiles from different regions in the worldDemon Flower, Mt. Apo, ✮ Chai Jolokia, Indigo Saffron.

I must admit, this is the first time I’ve tried Bitters from Shoots and Roots and discovered the flavor dimensions they add to desserts and cocktails. My favorite is the Chai Jolokia. 🙂

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You try the different bitters by placing some drops on your hand and licking them. This way, you know what kind of bitter you prefer.

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Nipa Lambanog, Watermelon Ice, and Bitters from Shoots & Roots (P150).

I ordered a special Filipino cocktail from Nipa Lambanog,

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Add Bitters from Shoots & Roots: Demon Flower, Mt. Apo, Indiogo Saffron, Chai Jolokia

The cocktail was OK. The watermelon flavor overpowered the alcohol and bitter flavor. It’s probably best to order this cocktail at the start to stimulate your appetite, or as a palate cleanser in between courses.

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✮ Organic Tapuy (from Conner, Apayao)…

I love tapuy from the Cordilleras. Purple Yam’s uses organic V&R rice wine, with just the right alcoholic kick.

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…with Ginger Ale and ✮ Kamias Pop by Ian Carandang.

The tapuy is mixed with ginger ale and stirred using a special kamias popsicle.

The combination is good but I still prefer drinking the tapuy on its own as a digestive, and use the popsicle as a palate cleanser in between courses (the boys loved the kamias pop!).

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✮ Chocolate Ice Cream (Subasta, Davao), Don Papa Rum, and Chai Jolokia Bitters

I love this dessert of homemade ice cream using chocolates from Subasta in Davao, with Don Papa Rum, and the spicy-bitter flavor of the Chai Jolokia. 🙂

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…with Stanford and Shaw Homebrewed Ginger Ale.

Who would’ve thought that ginger ale and chocolate ice cream could work as a float?

I prefer savoring the ice cream first then adding the ginger ale a little later because it melts the ice cream quite quickly.

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For kids and pregnant women, they serve Champuy Ice Cream. Sarap din! 🙂

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Bibingka sa Galapong (Milagrosa rice, Ventura Farm, Cagayan Valley).

The bibingka was a bit hard. I prefer the fluffy, softer version.

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I do like the grilled saba with nipa syrup from Paombong, Bulacan, topped with a bit of pomelo to balance the flavors.

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Make sure to bring your copy of “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” before going here. 🙂

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Romy puts his signature illustration of crab or fish, and Amy writes the dedication.

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Before we left, we got a pleasant Wild Lychee Dessert surprise from Castilla, Sorsogon. 🙂 It tasted like longan, with a big seed in the middle and a delicate jelly.

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Amy Besa and Chef Romy Dorotan, with Neal Oshima & daughter.

Congratulations, Purple Yam Malate for a successful opening weekend! 🙂

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Sunday Brunch costs P1,500/head and we got billed P1,500 for the 3 boys plus 12% service charge.

All the drinks and desserts are included in the set menu price, except for the Watermelon Nipa Lambanog cocktail, which was added at P150/glass.

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I love PURPLE YAM MALATE‘s unique take on Filipino Food and their passion to push the boundaries of what’s possible with 100% locally sourced ingredients. It’s an educational farm-to-table concept restaurant, with each ingredient telling the story of the farm it came from, while celebrating the farmers who produced it.

I like their clean style of cooking–just letting the flavors of the ingredients speak for themselves. I also like that they leverage ingredients from the owners’ home provinces of Pangasinan and Irosin, Sorsogon. Reminds me of a similiar cooking style during the dinner with the Noma chefs.

I was amazed by the bitters from Shoots & Roots, the iodized salt in nipa leaves container, the shaved tultol, and kamias pops! It was nice learning more about our usually taken-for-granted local ingredients.

Eating here made me feel more proud of our Filipino food heritage. It’s like eating Filipino Food coming out of a Doreen Fernandez book 🙂

The Filipino drink collection was also really good, with playful mixes of Ginger Ale, Nipa Lambanog, Organic Tapuy, and Don Papa Rum.

Some main dishes didn’t have that “oomph” and were overshadowed by the desserts and cocktail drinks. Diners looking for that umami flavor from salt and artificial flavoring may find the food lacking. Also, I don’t agree with some combinations like pancake with tocino or the tapa with the vinegar from Ilocos.

You can opt to wait a few months when the menu will be more polished, but it’s best to reserve now so you can check out what would probably be one of the most in-demand restaurants of 2014. 🙂

Congratulations again to Amy and Chef Romy for a well-thought out, curated, truly Filipino concept!


PURPLE YAM MALATE – Reimagining Filipino Food
PY Territorio, Inc.
603 Julio Nakpil corner Bacobo, Malate, Manila
Contact: Amy Besa
Email: purpleyamph@gmail.com
Reservations: +632 523-3497
Mobile:+63 917 870 5760
FacebookPurple Yam

Operating Hours (Set Menu price):
Reservations required at least two days in advance, open everyday

Dinner: (P2,500/head)
Lunch: (P2,000/head)
Inclusive of 12% VAT & non-alcoholic drinks
Exclusive of 12% Service Charge

Mode of Payment: Cash Basis only.

Live an Awesome Life,

Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 

Disclosure: We paid for our meal. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. Here’s the dinner menu at P2,500/head during the opening night, with more meats like their signature salt-roasted organic pekin duck and BBQ pork spareribs. Can’t wait to try the dinner! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “PURPLE YAM MALATE: A Taste of Reimagined Filipino Food and Revival of Malate?! @PurpleYamNYC

  1. Hi, Anton how are you? Thanks for sharing this one. I love this restaurant and the ancestral house as well. Feel at home ka pa. Their dishes are really prepared in native or old fashioned way. Actually, most of the old fashioned foods and dishes are more delicious than the fast food dishes. Sa pictures pa lang ay magugutom ka na. Bagay ito sa mga balikbayan na gaya ko. I wish that I can visit in Philippines later. Have a nice day always.

  2. Excited to visit this place! I think this is much better than the international branch. The ingredients are all authentic. thanks for this blog!

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