Nostalgia for 1920s Hawai’i at Purple Yam

April 14, 2011

To reserve for this Territorial Hawai’i Dinner, May 5; two seatings: 7 and 9:30 pm seatings, $50 prix fixe, pls email Amy at

Manuwai Peters will not only be our Guest Chef but he will also perform as part of the duo, Lei Molokai

A Celebration of a Culture and a Cuisine before Hollywood Changed it

We all have our stereotypes of Hawai’i, Hawaiian food (mostly poi), the hula, its music — all shaped by Hollywood (at least on my part).  Not that I didn’t like it.  As I get older and wiser, I learn of many stereotypes and how people of that culture resent it.  For example, I learned several years ago that the Muslim dances that have been a part of all the Philippine folk dance troupes I have thrilled to (and still yearn for today) are not really authentic.  Most of them were modern theatrical inventions of choreographers of the past to generate audiences because they are acrobatic, dramatic and colorful.  Oh well…

Thanks to Kristabelle Munson (who insists on being called just Kristabelle) and Wailana Wong, who have been coming to PY for the past year, we have put together this evening of culture and food to celebrate Territorial Hawaii of the 1920s before it became part of the United States.

Dining in 1920s Hawaii, Via Brooklyn

On Thursday, May 5, 2011, Purple Yam will host “An Evening in Territorial Hawaii”—a night of vintage Hawaiian culture that is rarely available in New York City. The evening will feature the songs of Hawaiian music duo Lei Molokai, a lei stand marking May Day, and a special Hawaiian Island–Pacific Rim menu. The menu is created by Purple Yam’s Executive Chef, Romy Dorotan and Guest Chef Manuwai Peters and will include Pua’a Hulihuli (spit-roasted whole pig) and Ahi (tuna) Poke.

This will be a night that recalls Hawaii’s Golden Age of the 1920s, when ocean steamers provided the only transportation to the islands, crooners strummed traditional melodies in grand hotel clubs, wearing a lei reaffirmed island tradition, and Hawai’i was yet to be named an official U.S. State.

Purple Yam will offer two dinner seatings, at 7 and 9:30 pm, with music throughout the evening. The din­ner will be a prix fixe of $50. Fresh flower garlands will be available at the lei stand for $8 apiece.

About the Performers

Lei Molokai (Garlands of Molokai), a Hawaiian music duo, was formed in New York City in 2009 by Manuwai Peters and Jason Poole. Manuwai and Jason connected through their common ties to Molokai Island. The pair pride themselves on pairing vintage and modern Hawaiian music with hula-style rhythms strummed on ukulele and guitar. They will be accompanied by Kristabelle and soloists Lisette Marie Flanary and Eleanor Trillana.

About Purple Yam

Purple Yam is a Filipino Pan-Asian restaurant serving Asian-style home-cooking in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. It is currently one of the “Sifty Fifty” (the top 50 favorite NYC restaurants of NYTimes restaurant critic Sam Sifton).

About May Day (traditionally May 1)

“May Day is Lei Day!” is a saying, a custom and a festival. By creating, wearing and giving leis to each other (not just to visitors), Hawaiians reaffirm their values, celebrating beauty and life. Every Hawaiian child has memories of making and wearing leis in school on May 1 for May Day. We’ll honor this tradition at Purple Yam on May 5, with a lei stand offering fresh flower garlands to wear through the dinner.


Prix fixe of $50. Seatings at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Purple Yam is at 1314 Cortelyou Road, betw. Rugby and Argyle, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn

Dinner Menu

Ka ’Ai Māmā/Starters

Ahi Poke and Kinilaw

Octopus Lū’au Shots (slow cooked with taro leaves)

Ka Mea’ai/Entrees

Pua’a Hulihuli (spit-roasted whole pig)

Salted black cod and pork Laulau (steamed in ti leaves)

Grilled opah or moonfish wrapped in banana leaves

Sides of roasted Molokai golden sweet potato, fresh poi and baby bok choy

Ka Mea’ono/Desserts

Fresh pineapple upside down cake with macadamia praline ice cream

Ka Mea’Inu/Beverages

Maitai Punch (with Soju)

Plantation Iced Tea

Malulani Estates Molokai coffee

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

bonnie April 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Ahhhhhh! sounds absolutely onolicious. Hope to be there.

May day is lei day in Hawaii, garlands of flowers everywhere…

David A. Goldfarb April 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

We’re there!
And then we’ll be in Moloka’i in July.
–David & Nina

Teri April 17, 2011 at 3:07 am

The Only thing missing is someone reading Don Blanding’s May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii…
For more history of May Day – see
Hmmm, have fun!!!
Aloha from Molokai, Aunt-T

Camilla May 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Aloha! Moloka’i nui a hina would be proud of this ono kine grindz celebration of May Day in New York City. Pua’a hulihuli ;D
Aloha and hui hou tomorrow!

bonnie May 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Mahalo, Auntie T (may I call you Auntie T?), for the wonderful link! My elementary school always had Lei Day performances, I grew up singing and dancing to songs like “May Day Is Lei Day” and “Wear A Lei, Maile Lei” but you know what? I never knew where it started!

Jason Poole June 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Aloha Amy & Romy & the Purple Yam gang!

Celebrating Hawai’i at Purple Yam that evening was such a treat! Mahalo for offering NYC the chance to taste the ‘ono-grindz of the islands! Hope to be able to come and see you again, soon!

With Warm Aloha,

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