The excitement was palpable as we prepared for the #DimSumDomination at the Mumbai outpost of pan-Asian restaurant Pa Pa Ya; this one was located at the upscale Palladium mall in Lower Parel.
Sixty eight—that’s the total number of dim sums one can dive into in one go—all exclusively curated from fresh produce. Curated by Chef Sahil Singh, corporate executive chef at Massive Restaurants, the parent company of Pa Pa Ya, the dim sum menu requires a reasonable amount of head scratching and decision making to zero in on the final choices for the evening’s degustation. Thankfully, the menu has caricatures sharing nuggets of information to guide you through the menu. For the rest, the knowledgeable service staff will patiently help you out.
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If you need clarity as to how dim sums differ from any other dumplings, know this—the former are bite-sized Cantonese-style steamed dumpling stuffed with pork, duck, chicken, or prawns. Traditionally, they are served with tea and generally eaten family-style. “A team of chefs travelled to little nooks and restaurants of different cities in China for research before arriving at the decision of creating a 68-item dim sum menu for Pa Pa Ya,” says Singh.
No matter how you like your dumplings, steamed or poached, open or closed, vegetarian or full of meat/seafood, Pa Pa Ya has got your covered with their seemingly endless varieties. Bao (steamed bun), xiao long bao (soupy dumpling), cheung fun (rice noodle roll), lo mai gai (glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in a lotus leaf) and jiaozi (pan seared dumpling) are a few of the 12 varieties on offer at Pa Pa Ya. Guests can pick their favourite kind of dumpling and also, what goes into it. The filling options include assorted vegetables, grilled fish, prawns, minced chicken, BBQ pork, and braised lamb.
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Pa Pa Ya at Palladium Mumbai has been around for a few years now, and it is known for its futuristic interiors with molecule-shaped cuboids across the restaurant’s walls and ceiling. As we soaked in the vibes, the chef sent out an amuse-bouche of watermelon soaked in lemongrass and chilli foam. Served on plates shaped like oyster shells, placed on a stone bowl, and liquid nitrogen fumes, the morsel was pure drama.
Then trickled in the dim sum extravaganza! Our phone cameras overworked themselves trying to capture the translucence of classic crystal dumplings. Stuffed with carrot, truffle and cream cheese in an orange dumpling shaped as baby carrots. Next up was shrimp cheung fun seasoned with soy sauce. The lasagna-like rice noodle was wrapped and steamed flawlessly to complement the perfectly cooked shrimps. You can play around with three flavourful sauces–crispy chilly, celery, and chilly bean.
Carrot, truffle, and cream cheese dumplings and Prawn cheung fun
The lo mai gai at Pa Pa Ya are the signature dim sum—sticky rice morsel stuffed with julienned bell peppers, scallions and shiitake mushrooms was encased in a re-hydrated lotus leaf and steamed. The mildly spiced stuffing is just right for those looking for a relatively stronger kick of flavour, while the sticky rice further absorbed the mild herbal fragrance thanks to the lotus leaf.
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The meal ended with Pa Pa Ya’s signature ice creams featuring vanilla truffle, strawberry banana, mango basil, and salted caramel. Covered in a sheet of rice starch, each of these ice creams were rich and creamy. While the fruit flavours were good, we couldn’t hold ourselves from asking for a second helping of the salted caramel and vanilla truffle.
One dumpling that failed to make any impact is the truffle and mushroom bao, that came in the shape of a fungi, was pillowy-soft and tasty. Despite the use of truffle oil, the filling didn’t stand out as compared to the other dim sum varieties.
If you love dumplings (of any kind), make a meal of these dim sums at Pa Pa Ya. The restaurant has engraved itself on our recommendation list for dim sum lovers!
Photo courtesy: Pa Pa Ya