The Merriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of a bistro describes it as 1. a small or unpretentious restaurant; 2. a: a small bar or tavern b: Nightclub. We checked out Pa Pa Ya, the proclaimed Modern Asian Bistro owned by Massive Restaurants, located at the same 20,000sqft space as what used to be the Budha Bar or B.Bar in the Select Citywalk Mall in Saket,New Delhi. It did not meet with this definition.
Here was a spacious circular area with vaulted ceilings and exposed duct-work, ambient sublime music harmoniously in sync with the ambience, and the colour scheme dominated by sage browns, muted burnt orange and natural wood tones. Deep tan brown wood short-wall separates the dining area from the elevated bar, which is flashier but still keeps with the rest of Papaya’s design aesthetic. The bar space is surrounded by a circular setting for seating 2 to 20, perfect silo’s to accommodate private gatherings as well. The central round island bar concept steals the show though, elevated and dimly lit, I believe so you may gaze at your fellow dining companions. With music pulsating at high volumes, ‘gaze’ is pretty much what is easier done.
Not for us. We are here to check out the gustatory delights.
A table closer to the open kitchen is where we want to be. The cocktails are fab – checkout the Rambutan Sorbet! Our waiter is efficient, well informed about what he is serving, patient enough to repeat himself several times to make himself heard over the music and for us to decipher his strong accent not familiar to us.
The action centre, the open kitchen,is under the command of the very talented Chef Sahil Singh. With his roots in Ambala and a long innings in Delhi, which include the launch of the Tian at ITC Maurya, Shanghai Club at Welcome Hotel Dwarka, he sure knows what makes the Delhi walaas happy. While he created some fantastic culinary presentations of molecular gastronomy, starting our journey with the Sushi Tree, he himself is not a great fan of the same. Yes we too…after all the ‘experiential’ taste-bud-meets-arty-fairy-food delight, give us something real to chew on please. He just launched the Pa Pa Ya in Colaba, Mumbai
TLC- “Do you find any difference in the diners from Delhi and Mumbai?”
Chef Sahil – “The people in Mumbai are more experimental. Delhi is conservative and people usually do not want to try new flavors.”
He recalls when a Delhi foodie actually called up to ask if Chicken Tikka, Butter Chicken were on the menu. The best bytes we got from our conversation with Chef Sahil – “Food is about happiness, it is about love…there is no rocket science to food”
“I have designed the menu such that at least 90% people should go happy, there is something for everyone” There sure is. My gustatory partner at the table being a vegetarian, we chomped our way through most of the menu listings.
Plating is magnificent and menu a delight, ranging from large sushi platters, variety dim sums, and small plates to courses from across Asian countries. It has the tried and tested popular oriental dishes like prawn hargao, burrata etc, but treated differently, more contemporary.
We started off with asparagus corn and burnt spring onion, followed by crab and scallop ravioli, the crabs being very succulent and juicy and mildly flavoured. The prawn HarGao had a firm dumpling wrap. The maki roll served with soy sauce ginger and wasabi was well balanced. The tuna tataki pizza, claiming to be the star on the menu, a paper thin crisp corn tortilla topped with seared tuna and jalapeno mayo, lived up to its reputation. Chorizo takoyaki balls stuffed with grilled octopus was a burst of flavors. My recommendation of the must-try at Pa-Pa-Ya would have to be Konkakuyaki, sautéed leeks and water chestnut, Singapore chilli crabs, chorizo takoyaki. For those with the mighty sweet tooth, it has to be the chocolate ball on fire.
Pa-Pa-Ya offers a complete sensory experience – visual, oral, olfactory and aural. Do make a booking.
Open – All days of the week
Timings – 12 pm to 1 am
Location – Level 4, Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi