Blockbuster – I do not know the dictionary definition of the term, but it is something that most hallowed filmmakers want their films to be. Something that not only is a big success but appeals to those who are in love with the finer things as well.
Massive Restaurants seemed to have nailed the elusive blockbuster with every new restaurant launch and going by the phenomenal food and teeming crowds, PaPaYa is a sure-fire blockbuster as well.
Zorawal Kalra’s vision and scale for PaPaYa has been unbelievable and the same vision is matched by the superlative food on the menu too. Heralded by Chef Sahil Singh, the menu, the flavours have been meticulously planned and perfected, making it, in my opinion, the best Pan Asian restaurant in the city.
Even in a modern, progressive, multi-sensory setting, the food here at PaPaYa never once compromises on flavour and balance, making every dish (and ingredient) sing on the plate. For every seemingly simply flavoured Spiked Berkshire pork bao (sweet, sticky and delicious), there is a roasted aubergine hidden inside a wonderful traditional Chinese dimsum (guotie).
Traditional sushi is available in most places, but PaPaYa takes it to another level by doing a thorough sushi menu (and a dedicated sushi bar) that encompasses all kinds – Nigiri, Sashimi, Maki rolls and my favourite – the modern inventive sushi.
The salmon and scallop firepit with smoked ikura was so good, I wished there were more than four parcels in a plate. My favourite vegetarian option was the magnificent sushi burger that came with pickled vegetables and a Philly Aioli!! So much for a traditional sushi! Go PaPaYa.
Also, I must mention the menu as it is extensive and it can so happen that you and your friends have a set of completely different dishes. The PaPaYa tapas selection is truly where Chef Sahil’s creativity comes alive.
The Tuna enchiladas come with crab sticks and black caviar (or tobiko) and are a taste sensation. Similarly, try the chorizo takoyaki with a parmesan tuile. There is a delightful combination of chorizo and grilled octopus in a negi tare sauce, sealed in a dumpling that needs to be eaten in one bite and as you eat, the delicious layers are revealed one by one.
Among the several must try’s is the Butayakitori or the Braised Pork Belly skewers that come with a mind blowing apple and betel leaf slaw.
We had the two main courses that were superstars – lamb rendang curry and the Singapore Chilli crab. The chilli crab was my most favourite dish of the galaxy of dishes I was served and I truly can go back for just this dish. The soft shell chilli crab is marvellous by itself – that magnificently crunchy batter coating the sweetmeat, but the chilli sauce just brings it alive. Together with the mantao buns, it embodies the spirit of PaPaYa.
Being a chocolate lover, I tried two chocolate desserts – chocolate ball on fire and the aerated chocolate with matcha creme anglaise.
Chocolate ball on fire is literally that – a show, a dessert that announces itself and does not mind the attention!
I preferred the other, quieter, more subtle Aerated chocolate, although the flavours here were anything but that. It is bitter, sweet, decadent, boozy and spicy at the same time (when you have the matcha creme anglaise), I loved it thoroughly.
The best chefs, in my opinion, do not restrict themselves and combine ingredients, cuisines and styles from all across the world; That is where true innovation comes from and Chef Sahil Singh showcases that innate sense of flavours in each dish at PaPaYa. Do not wait and try and find for yourself why this is the hottest new restaurant in town.