Pa Pa Ya’s new menu celebrates seven years of redefining Asian cuisine

They’ve always been pioneers of authentic Asian cuisine in Mumbai. And seven years later, it’s only getting better.
The chicken and coriander dumplings are just one of many exciting new things on the pa pa ya menu.
The Chicken and Coriander dumplings are just one of many exciting new things on the Pa Pa Ya menu.

You don’t enter Pa Pa Ya without a firm mind to devour everything new on the menu. And they always have something up their sleeve. 

From the first time they brought sushi to Mumbai in 2015 to now, each new take on the menu has added and enhanced something flavoursome. And this time, it’s a plethora of Japanese and Chinese dishes, with a particularly delicious focus on dim sum. 

Before getting into the food, which is definitely the star of the show here – the ambience is worth taking in. You know a restaurant means business when they skip the bells and whistles in favour of a stellar menu. The time taken into curating a special menu for their seventh anniversary is evident in the line-up of dishes for the evening. And the interiors play their supporting roles well to create a warm yet inviting atmosphere. 

In keeping with the Pan-Asian modern bistro vibes, there’s a healthy amount of tapas-style plates, sushi, dim-sum, and more. There are also enough mains to keep the puritans satiated, retaining the signature and blending in new techniques. 

We kicked off our meal with the most tender and well-cooked bunch of Chicken Gyoza. Unlike other fine-dine establishments, here’s one that doesn’t shy away from giving you quantity with quality. The chicken is seasoned to a fault and the wrapper is just the right amount of chewy with a bite. Definitely a must-try.

We then moved on to the Shumai, again going with Chicken and Chestnut. And surprisingly, again, we weren’t disappointed at all. It’s textbook enough to ensure it’s gobbled up in a jiffy, steam rising in spirals be damned. 

Between the Poached Exotic Veg with Black Bean Sauce and the Pokchoy Pool Chicken dumplings, the latter was an easy win. While they’re both prepared in similar styles, there was simply something boring about the former, making it one of the few dishes that didn’t end up disappearing. And on a night where all the items are hitting the right spot, it’s the small things that matter. The sauce was simply too heavy and overshadowed both protein and dish, not in a good way.

The dragon roll at pa pa ya.
The Dragon Roll at Pa Pa Ya.

On the sushi front, we sampled the Dragon Roll as well as the Yellowtail sushi. I’m happy to report both performed admirably, making the happy occasion that much better. The former was a Prawn Tempura that ticked all the right boxes, offering the right balance of texture and flavour. Comparatively, the Yellowtail teetered slightly on the just good enough side. As I’ve said before, the enemy of great will always be good, a fitting conclusion here. 

Grilled chicken and avocado tacos at pa pa ya.
Grilled Chicken and Avocado Tacos at Pa Pa Ya.

A slightly odd spotting on the menu were the tacos, both welcome yet glaringly standing out at the same time. It’s hard to fault the Beer Battered Tempura Avocado tacos with corn and scallions kimchi. Every bite is zingy without overwhelming your palate and ruining the delicate flavour of the hero ingredient. It might come across as a basic option, but Pa Pa Ya’s nothing if not thorough from the word go. The Grilled Chicken and Avocado tacos, however, were more surprising for their flavour than the dish in itself. It was almost reminiscent of a Chettinad Chicken, which isn’t problematic except for the fact that you’re sitting in an obviously Pan-Asian restaurant. Not bad, but definitely strange. 

An unquestionable highlight of the meal was the sashimi course. Both the tuna and salmon are sliced with a deft hand, and the latter paired with ponzu brings out the freshness of the fish brilliantly. If you’re a sashimi lover, Pa Pa Ya’s more than got you covered. 

Salmon sashimi with truffle ponzu at pa pa ya.
Salmon Sashimi with Truffle Ponzu at Pa Pa Ya.

All that tapas later, you know it’s ‘I’m-too-full to main course time’. Which was just as well, given that the Katsu Curry was enough to serve more than 2 people with a reasonable appetite. It was also slightly sweeter than the traditional dish, and definitely not recommended with chicken. Since it gets paired with traditional Japanese rice that has a hint of sweetness too, the whole dish falls flat. 

The drinks at Pa Pa Ya aren’t particularly innovative or exciting, but not too bad. Go with the classics over signature concoctions if you’re looking for 10/10 winners.

With the meal coming to a close came a twist akin only to the most dramatic Hindi soaps. The desserts. If there’s someone you don’t like, Pa Pa Ya’s mochi platter is a must-recommend for them. I cannot begin to explain where and how they’ve gone so wrong, and can only hope to find justification someday for what the most bizarre range of flavours did to my palate.

The saving grace for pa pa ya's desserts, the chocolate ball on fire.
The saving grace for Pa Pa Ya’s desserts, the Chocolate Ball on Fire.

The Liquid Hazelnut Fondant Cake with Matcha and a Blueberry Quenelle was hard on the mouth in every way. With the matcha flavour completely missing and the texture of the fondant cake way too dense, it wasn’t a winner. Surprisingly, it was the seemingly boring choice of a Chocolate Ball on Fire that really paid off. 

Suffice it to say, Zorawar Kalra and the team were intent on marking this anniversary of Pa Pa Ya with a bang. And except for a few misfires, they’ve pretty much nailed it.

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)

Food: 8/10

Drinks: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Interiors/Décor: 8/10

Vibe: 8/10

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