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Pa Pa Ya - New Delhi

Sunday, March 19, 2017ruthdsouzap

At the end of February I visited Delhi to play cheering squad for my father who won himself the Sahitya Academy award for his work in the Konkani language. For me, Delhi holds a lot of fond memories, even though my last visit was 17 years ago for an internship with Miditech. Those 3 months were perhaps the most stressful I could have had as student of media venturing out into the industry, but it was also the best in terms of the learning as well as the many friends I made and have even today. 

Despite being based in Bangalore, my work has seen me interact with people across industries from across the country and Delhi has been no different. This visit was a quick one and packed in as many "catch up" meetings as I could. In the middle of it all, I was invited to visit one of the newest entrants on the Delhi food scene - PaPaYa by Massive Restaurants at Select Citywalk in Saket. Of course, I jumped at the chance - Pan Asian food with a twist, completely up my alley!

Situated on the 4th floor of the central dome of Select Citywalk, PaPaYa has an entrance that is easy to miss or as in the case of geographically challenged me, can be difficult to find. Nevertheless, once in, you are greeted with a very bright space, placed below a skylight dome. The focus is around a centrally placed bar. From where I was sitting, I had some really nice bottles in my line of vision... many of which I would have liked at my home bar. 

Anyways, I digress. Around this bar is a bar stool seating. Separating this area is a glass enclosure, and one step below a seating area. A step further down are the sofa styled seating. Seated next to the glass enclosure, I settled down with much anticipation.

Since this was to be a showcase of PaPaYa, I let the choice to the chef who sent out a steady stream of dishes. The Amuse Bouche of Watermelon Chunks with a seaweed foam on a bed of dry ice. Served up in pretty shells, this single shot set the base for the meal to come.

 Tokyo Summer is the first drink I began with. Vodka based if I remember correctly, finished off with a touch of wasabi and sliver of nori. Very Asian, well balanced and a great first choice.

Though the meal did not come out in the order you see it here, most of it was close on the heels of one another and so have placed it in the order that you should try it. Som Tam - a classic Thai salad- good on the crunch, great on the spice and a nice first course.

 Next came a lovely glass bell jar over a wooden plate and was a sashimi course - The Salmon Uzukuri with jalapeno relish, blackened garlic, and a ponzu drizzle. When the jar comes off, quite literally the table is surrounded with an amazing teakwood smoke which adds a deep flavour profile to the salmon sashimi which was very fresh and sliced very well, something I believe, is integral to a good sashimi.

I had read about the extensive sushi offerings at PaPaYa and heard of  Sushi Tree (though the Sushi Boat is what I am going to order only for me next time) is something I wanted to try. Perhaps chef read my mind because that is what came out next. An eight piece set of sushi, ideal for two people.

The tree comes with four kinds of sushi, two of each - Clockwise you see them below- the Tuna Uramaki rolls, with a topping of Japanese mayo and tempura dust. Next you see the Salmon roll with a touch of roe. The next two are specialties of PaPaYa - the sushi burger which looks like a mini burger with two layers of rice sandwiching together a spicy salmon filling. It is also tied together with a sliver of nori. A fabulous rendition of the sushi, which I would have loved to have more of. The next was a Crabstick and avocado sushi wrapped in an activated carbon rice uramaki roll; the activated carbon being something that seems to be a common thread of thought across Massive restaurants. More on this in my soon to come post on Masala Library.

The delicious components of the Sushi Tree - Tuna Uramaki, Salmon Roll, Sushi Sandwich and the activated carbon, crabstick and avocado roll.

Since this was a tasting, a lot of what came to the table was in tasting portions. Next up was the Kale Pakchoy and Mushrooms Gaozi with a Lhasan Dressing. This is little gyoza parcel had a very delicate cover and was stuffed to the brim and placed in a delicate, slightly tangy dressin, which worked perfectly with the kale and pakchoy as well as the soft texture of the mushroom. The colourful parcel was a slight bit of a struggle with the chopsticks but the effort well worth it
at the end of it.

Next up was the Prawn Hargao in a green curry prawn farce - Again a delicate hargao that did not take away from the filling in any way thanks to a great casing. The green curry was subtle, packed with flavours that are very reminiscent of our recent Asian holiday. Do remember to eat these as soon as they hit the table to be able to enjoy them at their best.

 Next up on the table was the Chorizo Takoyaki with Negi Tare and a Parmesan Tuille - an Asian style tapas dish if you may - this was a grilled octopus and chorizo takoyaki, made in a unique pan of its own, with a crispy parmesan tuille, and mayo. The idea is to pop the whole ball in your mouth in one go. Each element of the ball reveals itself slowly making this a dish you will truly enjoy.

   The Ramen Chicken was clear broth, flavourful and nice reprieve between courses.

Next up was the Singaporean style Chicken Laksa. A very pretty platter, with all the accompaniments brought alongside on a tray. The laksa itself was served up in a thick paper cone and further made pretty with a little T-light burner base. While the laksa packed in some nice flavours, I found the consistency way too thick to be able to appreciate it really well.

Vegetarians don't have to worry because the menu does offer you a lot of interesting options. One among them are the Edamame and Chickpea sliders that are served to you on a miniature jeep, along with some homemade potato chips. Never really thought of Edamame and chickpeas coming together but they make quite a nice textured patty. Topped with a mix of Asian mayos, the home made crisps provide that necessary crunch to the dish.

Chunking style Bummalo tempura with Shandong spice and peppers basically translates to a very nicely done Bombay Duck dish, where the fish is has a deep coloured tempura batter coating and is placed on a bed of silken mashed potatoes. Over that goes slivered bellpeppers, microgreens , two kinds of roe and some over roasted cherry tomatoes as well. Make it a point to scoop up each of the elements in every mouthful to make sure you make the most of this one.

My second drink for the afternoon was the Fuku Sour which comes with a lollipop in complementary flavour. On first sip I found the drink a bit too bitter but one stir of the drink and one go at the lollipop and the drink settled down very well for me.

Two major main courses made their way to the table. The first was a superlative Lamb Rendang curry that had been noticeably slow cooked. The rotis on the side completed this Indonesian offering, though I was more than happy to make do with just my fingers and the lovely deep fried onions that were part of the garnish.

 This last one, I wish I had the tummy real estate space to pack it all away. This beautiful plate came with Pork belly over which is poured a Yuzu buerre blanc, beautifully drenching the blanched greens over it. The quail scotch eggs were quite a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside deal and the potato tubes carried a sauce that complemented the meal very well.

Dessert was a Chocolate Bomb with a sweet (quite literally) thank you note around it. Quite sinful once all the chocolate has melted and all the goodness on the inside completely gelled together. A nice and indulgent way to end the meal.

PaPaYa is a great space if you are looking to catch up with friends over an innovative meal. Next time round, I will consider the sofa seating area though as I personally found the tables around the bar a little too closely placed for comfort. The sushi is great and I am a sucker for that on any given day. A meal for two is approximately Rs 2500 without alcohol. The loos are clean. 

Restaurant: PaPaYa
Serves: Pan Asian with a twist
Address: Dome, Level 4, Select City Skywalk, A3, District Center, Saket
Phone: +91-8800002881 / 82
Parking: Mall Parking

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