When Amy Besa welcomed us to their quaint ancestral home in Malate, it didn’t feel as if we had made reservations to dine. It felt more like a legitimate house visit to a family relative who hasn’t seen you in forever. And because she missed you, she laid out all her beautiful chinaware and prepared all her specialties for dinner.
As we waited for food to be served, Amy took out all-natural salted garlic popcorn from the kitchen and sits alongside us. I will tell you this: never have I ever loved eating popcorn as much. We had to grate salt from the rock itself (natural iodized salt), and the garlic taste to the popcorn was amazing. Why hasn’t anyone made that flavor commercial, yet? (Earth to Popperoo!)
Purple Yam was initially set up in NYC, and they’ve gotten raring reviews from the likes of the New York Times and New York Magazine under their belt. I’m glad that they’ve decided to bring the “homey spirit and Pan-Asian scope” back to its roots!
Cuisine and culture
“This home was built in back in 1949,” she quips as our eyes wandered. The fully air-conditioned house seats about 24 people, with antique furnishings and old portraits that hung on the white-washed walls.
We booked the private room (seating capacity: 10), a small dining area which used to be Amy’s mother’s chambers. On the walls hung original Botong Francisco “Progress of Philippine Medicine” artwork and several other memorabilia.
One by one, the dishes came in and as each dish hit the table came yet another story to share. Each special ingredient was painstakingly sourced, giving each bite more value that you’d want the taste to linger for a few more seconds. Here’s what we had that night:
Cheese Tart with Malagos Farms Rustica & Shahani Farm kesong puti topped with fresh guava compote
Kinagang: Sorsogon tamale with shrimps and crabmeat on a bed of buko and lukadon lemongrass, herba buena in banana leaf
Always fresh, always unexpected
The farm-to-table concept of Purple Yam is not new to the Philippines, but the way they operate is unique and admirable. In their efforts to maintain freshness and to remain as natural and special, the set menu changes every so often depending on the availability of ingredients. For September 8 (haha, wow serious backlog!), the menu featured a selection of Sorsogon and Aklan favorites, Kinagang and Binakol respectively, plus an intricately-presented mahi-mahi and mouth-watering beef short-rib adobo. I’m getting really hungry just thinking about it.
Binacol: Organic chicken in fresh bamboo tubes, lemongrass, ginger, buko (coconut) juice, lukadon, radish and bok choy (This is my personal favorite. The coconut meat and soup with the soft chicken was amazing!)
Pan-fried fillet of mahi-mahi on a bed of edamame, native corn, Asian kale puree, topped with haricot vert and watermelon rind (also looks like a cute terrarium!)
Beef short-rib adobo with mango vinegar from Abra
Organic red rice varieties from Mindoro Oriental and Botolan, Zambales
Native greens salad: watercress, talinum, Asian kale, tomato, radish, pomelo drizzled with Mangosteen dressing
Happy birthday, Art and Barbie! Sumptuous mini sansrival for the celebrants
Purple Yam Malate Special Dessert: Nata & Kaong on watermelon ice topped with passion fruit sorbet, homemade mangosteen ice cream and Sebastian’s sweet corn ice cream with pinipig! This was like nothing I’ve ever tasted — a different kind of halo-halo, where it’s a little less sweet. The watermelon ice balanced the taste but I found it quite an off pairing with the sweet corn ice cream. Can I have the sweet corn ice cream in a pint and to-go, please?
Valued at Php 2,500/head, the experience, ambiance, the unique taste, and your newfound appreciation for Filipino culture and cuisine may be well worth the price. For those who will argue and say that this a steep price for dinner should know that these are the kinds of restaurant concepts that we should be celebrating. Using uniquely Pinoy elements and traveling to source for only the best recipes and techniques in the country does not only strike the nationalistic hearts of the diners but also aid the Filipino farmers who work long and hard to produce these overlooked local ingredients.
Thanks for experience, Purple Yam!
PURPLE YAM MALATE: Reimagining Filipino Food
PY Curated Foods, Inc., 603 Julio Nakpil corner Bacobo, Malate, Manila
Reservations: +632 523-3497
Mobile: +63 926 713-3523
Facebook: Purple Yam | Twitter: @PurpleYamNYC
Operating Hours (Prices for Set Menu):
Friday Dinner: 7:00 PM onwards (P2,500/head)
Saturday Dinner: 7:00 PM onwards (P2,500/head)
Sunday Lunch: 11:00 AM – 3.30 PM (P1,500/head)