Review: Pa Pa Ya's brave new dim sum menu is resetting our dining habits
The news of Pa Pa Ya’s audacious new dim sum menu couldn’t possibly have missed your attention; the modern Asian bistro recently introduced world’s largest dim sum menu featuring 68 different kinds of dim sums. We decided to finally explore the menu ourselves and ended up at Pa Pa Ya for an early weekday lunch. The bistro chain has a stellar renown for its attention to detail and has consistently balanced innovation and spectacle with its evolving curations.
We walked past the glorious wine cellar (impeccably ranged from Château Beloeil to Tiamo Proseco, possibly the finest selection in the city) and spent some time at the waiting bar - a novel concept which lets you drink up while you wait for a table on crowded evenings.
The new menu, curated by Chef Sahil Singh, has a focus on staying true to natural textures and flavours of the ingredients, most of which are seasonal. We settled in with a sharp Spanish-style gin and tonic and decided to take some time to explore the menu which has been curated after extensive research. The dim sum has always been steeped in sophistication, whether as part of the Cantonese Yum Cha tradition or even as the go-to hipster brunch order; Pa Pa Ya's menu is very aware of the dish's multi-faceted history and tries to incorporate flavours which bring out the dim sum's culinary relevance.
There are 12 categories of dim sums, depending upon their bases and shapes or preparations. Some of them like the wonton or cheung fun may be familiar to you, but the open-faced dumplings and sriracha open lotus flower baos are the most exciting, as they are so hard to find in the city!
As baskets of steamed, dainty dumplings began to gather round our table we decided to start with the most photogenic of the lot. The truffle cream cheese crystal dumplings are delicate, orange wrapped dollops with a complex creamy after-taste; the Philadelphia cream cheese takes over the flavour profile for the potato and wheat starch base and you won't mind that one bit. The Cheung Fun surprised us with its snappy presentation, the rice paper rolls were wrapped around crispy seasonal veggies and despite being the only green number on our table, garnered the most attention.
The glutinous rice dumpling is essentially a no-hassle sushi, very conveniently packaged; the rice coated dumplings are steamed in their own stock which lends an incredibly original aroma to the dish. The Xiao Long Bao is a soupy, steamed dumpling; we chose the braised lamb-stuffed Xiao Long Bao and were blown away with the richness of its flavour. It’s very mindful of its portion size and does not bring together too many influences, and instead focuses on the meat.
We also had some colourful poached grilled fish dumplings and paired it with a breathy Fuku Sour cooler (vodka, melon syrup, shaken with egg white and mango candy). For dessert, don’t think twice about opting for the newly-added classic New York-style cheesecake prominently featuring soft and dense Philadelphia cream cheese over a crumbly dark chocolate base and topped with good ol’ Bailey’s. Price for two: Rs 1,500.