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Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Lounge Review: Pa Pa Ya, Mumbai

Restaurateur Zorawar Kalra has been on something of a one-man mission to popularize fusion and experimental cooking since the launch of his ambitious progressive Indian project, the Masala Library, at the Bandra-Kurla complex two years ago. The last time we were excited about a new restaurant at the Palladium mall in Lower Parel was at the opening of Punjab Grill by Jiggs Kalra in 2010. Though the Kalra clan has since severed ties with the Punjab Grill brand, their return to the flashy shopping centre is an exciting, smart and sexy take on Japanese and pan-Asian fare.

The good stuff

Pa Pa Ya oozes glamour with its dimly lit, crimson-walled interiors. There are two slick black bars—one for cocktails, with molecular mixology flourishes, and the other for some of the best sushi in the city. But once the food begins to arrive at your table, there’s little else that will concern you. All the dishes we sampled had been plated like edible art.

The menu is over a dozen pages long, nearly half of it dedicated to shareable tapas, sushi and dim sums; it’s easy to go through an entire meal here without getting into the mains at all. To start, the kitchen sent out a dramatic amuse-bouche of watermelon in lemongrass and chilli foam, served on oyster shells plated on a stone bowl brimming with liquid nitrogen fumes. Every dish that followed was equally mesmerizing.

We couldn’t resist Instagramming the excellent miniature sushi burgers ( 285 for four pieces), hand-rolled rice buns holding generous salmon chunks with pickled veggies slathered in a cream cheese and aioli, as well as the sushi pizza slices ( 325 for four pieces) made on extremely thin rice crackers with a salmon carpaccio base and toppings like edamame, sun-dried tomatoes and bell peppers.

Equally delightful were the deep-fried soft-shell crab buns with sriracha tartare sauce ( 695), the falafel-like edamame and chickpea sliders with chilli mayonnaise ( 375) and the grilled chicken and avocado tacos made in a gyoza sheet shell with chiang mai sauce and mozzarella ( 395). For something a bit more grown-up, we recommend the crisp lotus stem chips ( 325) that are doused in an addictive smoky and sticky-sweet honey chilli sauce.

We were most impressed by our main dish, the Malaysian-style ikan bakar red snapper (excellent value for money at 525), chunks of the charcoal grilled fish deep-fried with a crisp peanut crust and served with a spicy-sweet sambal sauce. We paired the dish with a side of fiery kimchi fried rice ( 215). We were too full to try dessert but the restaurant offered us an excellent yuzu and wasabi sorbet between courses and pralines in salted caramel and coconut and white chocolate flavours at the end of our meal.

The not-so-good

Pa Pa Ya is being marketed as a “high-energy" dining concept—projection mapping on a continuous installation of 3D hexagons through the restaurant give the space a strange, sci-fi feel. Wooden tables and chairs seem mismatched with the rest of the place. The electro-pop soundtrack is unnecessary. The wait- staff wears wireless earphones and a mic, making it difficult to communicate with them. We were also unimpressed with our drink, the Citron Passiontini ( 425). The bottom of our martini glass was filled with a hard-set, gin-infused passion fruit and mango jelly and topped with a citrus vodka.

Talk plastic

For its multi-element dishes, which make use of exotic and imported ingredients, Pa Pa Ya is reasonably priced. A large variety of dim sums, sushi and tapas average at 300-400, mains at 500-600, desserts at 325 and cocktails at 425. We spent just over 3,000 for a meal for three with four filling appetizers, a huge main dish with a side of fried rice and a cocktail.

Pa Pa Ya, Palladium Mall, Third floor, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (West). For reservations, call 022-43475454.

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