Doing justice and objectively writing about a place for which every known food journalist has written praises and showered accolades, is perhaps one of the biggest challenges I have faced in recent times. Pa Pa Ya is the culprit I refer to in my earlier sentence and a simple search on dear Google will validate my point.
Pa Pa Ya has been celebrated for its style, its elegance, its charm and its ultra-modern take on Pan Asian food ever since it first opened its doors. Zoravar Kalra has mastered the art of unique dining experiences through his previous ventures which forayed into modern progressive Indian cuisine. Along with geniuses like Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent, Zorawar Kalra can be credited with redefining Indian cuisine altogether. The newly opened Pa Pa Ya takes this expertise a notch higher by introducing a very interesting take on Pan Asian food with an equal flair and accomplishes it with aplomb.
The first thing that hits you as you walk into the restaurant is its futuristic design. 3D projection lights are often projected on the hanging cuboids which gives the place a look right out of sci-fi movie. Though the music is a tad bit loud, one should not be surprised to see senior citizens as well as kids dining with their families in this restaurant.
The menu covers an entire selection from all the major food destinations from the Far East and boasts of dishes from Sushis and Dimsums to Curries and Laksas.
Our tasting here started with a very cleverly designed amuse bouche of Watermelon covered in a Chile foam served on an oyster shell that was to be eaten as one would eat a freshly chucked oyster. The dramatic but deliciously simple amuse bouche set up the tone of the magic that was to flow.
This was immediately followed by a Layered Sushi Pizza Zucchini Carpaccio which made me arch my eyebrows at the mere mention of this wild combination, but what came was a deliciously crafted morsel of sushi rice atop a crunchy tortilla and garnished with a spicy creamy sauce. Similarly the Kimchi Taco was a combination of spicy, tangy kimchi served in a very fresh and crunchy taco. It wouldn’t be gross exaggeration to say that the dishes have been crafted with such finesse that one feels in absolute bliss post having these dishes.
The third marvelous dish was a spinach based dish called Horenso Gomae which had a citrus ponzu based sauce with a strong garlicky kick that made me utter the word “WOW” several times as I went along eating it.
While we waited for the next course, we were served two very interesting drinks where the use of liquid nitrogen (unlike many places) was done quite thoughtfully. The Lighthouse and Go Pa Pa Ya have been masterfully crafted where the liquid nitrogen accentuates the aromas of fresh rosemary and oranges as you try to take the first sip. The subtle aromas trail through the entire drink.
Post this we went on an exquisite roller coaster ride of Veg and Non- Veg Sushis where one of them had black squid ink (this was mind blowing) and another lot was served on a very funky matrix like wooden serving dish. The sushis were good but not over the top, but full marks needs to be given to its most creative presentation.
Another dish I would like to talk about here was the Pork Belly (Butayakitori) which was marinated in a kind of jerk seasoning and grilled to perfection. The fat was perfectly rendered and heavenly. What takes this dish notches above is the most interesting side of apple and paan (betel leaves) sauce which has used the typical paan leaf in probably the most unique mannerI have ever tried.
A surprise visit from the excise people brought the service to an unexpected lull (which I didn’t mind since it helped me to space myself out). Post this; we were once again served with some very interesting dishes. The standouts from this lot were the Exotic Mushrooms with a Wasabi based Fried Rice on the side and the Chorizo Takoyaki which was a dish that had chorizos and squid. This dish, shaped like a ball, had a lovely core which oozed with flavor and worked well with its crunchy outer layer. The mushroom dish was perfectly balanced and had different kind of mushrooms which added to the textural adventure in the mouth.
A lovely whiskey based cocktail called 5 Spice Flip came to my rescue as I ate the extremely spicy the Lamb Rendang Curry which is one of the prides and joys of the restaurant. Though the meat was truly fall off the bones, the curry was too spicy for my taste and was glad to skip it and look forward to the desserts.
True to its theme, Pa Pa Ya served us two beautifully crafted desserts, one of which was called Azuki Velvet Cake and consisted of a blueberry sorbet, dark chocolate macaroon and a red bean cake; and the other one was called Assisette of Banana Split which was an extremely interesting rendition of five different banana based desserts. Decadent, rich, classy, beautiful and delicious are the adjectives that come to my mind as I think of these two desserts.
Through the evening we tried several more dishes, all of which were presented in a very creative manner. The thought process and the hard work behind each dish reflected throughout the evening. As I mentioned earlier, despite the heavy music and lounge-like feel, the restaurant is visited by young and old alike and it does a great job at creating a fun feel to the dining experience with food and drinks to match. Go experience Pa Pa Ya for a quirky delicious evening and remember me as you sink your teeth into that beautiful pork belly or take a spoonful of Horenso Gomae!
Ratings (out of 5)
Food: 4 | Drinks: 4.5 | Ambience: 4.5 | Service: 3.5 | Overall: 4.5
Meal for Two: Rs. 2000 (Without alcohol) | Credit Cards: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 12:00 – 2:30 PM, 7:00 – 11:00 PM | Wheel Chair Friendly: Yes
Address: Level 3, Palladium Mall, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.