Pa Pa Ya opens in Chennai with eclectic Asian fare and funky decor accents

Expect a rad sushi bar, a giant fish that is part of the interiors and looks good enough to take selfies with and a beverage selection with Oriental accents
Interiors at Pa Pa Ya
Interiors at Pa Pa Ya

The hype is real. Pa Pa Ya, the hottest new modern Asian bistro in town promises a rad sushi bar, a giant fish that is part of the interiors and looks good enough to take selfies with and a beverage selection with Oriental accents. Located smack in the centre of the buzz and bustle of upscale Nungambakkam; Zorawar Kalra, who is one of the partners has picked a great location as well for the brand’s debut in the city. This is Pa Pa Ya’s sixth outlet since the restaurant first opened its doors seven years ago, with locations now in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Over a golden bowl of laksa, we chat with Zorawar who is also the the founder and managing director of Massive Restaurants behind the popular Farzi Café and Masala Library. “Our menu is always moving, never static. We have new dishes every month reflecting the global mood of the Asian world. That’s what keeps it fun,” he tells us. This apart, also look out for a soon-to-be-introduced unlimited brunch and in a few months, an elaborate dim sum menu, he shares. How elaborate, we wonder? “About 60,” he shares, off the cuff, “but we haven’t decided on a date just yet”. 

<em>Beer Battered Avocado Tacos</em>
Beer Battered Avocado Tacos

Taco about avocado
For the moment, however, there is plenty to explore as we browse the menu in front of us. Expect a curated assortment of flavours from places like Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Japan, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia and Singapore with signatures like the Butaniku Paitan Ramen, Sichuan Prawns and Penang Curry. We find ourselves head-over-heels over the Signature Pizzete, Edamame, Asparagus, Avocado which turns out to be a salad disguised as a pizza — crisp, flavourful and fresh. If you’re an avocado fan, you could also opt for the Beer Battered Avocado Tacos with a corn and scallion kimchi that makes this appetiser pop!

<em>Lamb rendang</em>
Lamb rendang

Rendang repast
We were equally impressed with the Crispy Cheung Chicken dim sums which we pair with a green onion dip and later, a delicately plated Salmon Carpaccio Sushi; we weren’t brave enough to venture near the wasabi though. We’re already near stuffed to the gills by this point and decide to take a quick walk over to the bar section set up balcony style with a view of Nungambakkam High Road; and take a pause from eating to learn more about the sourcing of ingredients which can of course, make or break a dish. “Our tuna and scallops come from Hokkaido, our sauces from different parts of Japan and our pork belly is from Belgium,” Zorawar informs us. We order the Shanghai-style Pork Belly and it is equal parts hearty and saucy, with meat that is love-me-tender soft. Close on its heels, is the Xinjiang Lamb, which is crispy fried and keeps you coming back for more and later the Lamb Rendang Curry with tropical aromatics that has us mopping up our plates with satisfaction. 

<em>Shanghai-style pork belly</em>
Shanghai-style pork belly

We end our meal by asking a question likely on everybody’s mind. What inspired the name ‘Pa Pa Ya?’ “Papaya is commonly used in a lot of Asian food. For instance, Raw papaya salad is the most iconic Thai dish,” Zorawar responds. As for the spelling, he goes on, “Pa Pa Ya looks and sounds so much better, and creates a little bit of intrigue, of course.” 

Meal for two with beverages at INR 3,800.

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