Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Papaya Fine Asian Cuisine

Today is an odd day . It's all backwards. SP has to work from 3 pm until 11 pm today, so he was home this morning and afternoon. Weird! I am used to being alone during the day. But we did have errands to do, and since we've been eating cookies and leftovers for several days (and we're getting kind of bored of ham), I suggested that we have a lunch date. SP quickly agreed. Since he was such a good sport about having 6 members of my family stay in our house over the holidays, I decided to offer him his choice of Thai or Chinese for lunch. He was very excited, since rarely do I suggest dining on those cuisines! We ended up at Papaya in Robinson a bit before noon.Papaya is a little bit Thai, little bit Chinese, and little bit Japanese. It's between the Pier One & Panera, near Chipotle and the WalMart. It's sleek and modern inside. Spacious. Christmas music was playing, but not too loudly. We were greeted warmly and seated right away. It wasn't too crowded. We were seated next to a front window. There is a small lucky bamboo plant on each table.

SP ordered a oolong tea and I opted for just water. Our server brought us an additional cup in case I wanted some tea.We each decided on a 'Happy Lunch Special.' There are 7 options, 5 of which are listed as spicy, and each comes with soup, a spring roll, and white or brown rice for $7.95. The two soups of the day were a miso soup and a hot & sour soup, neither of which I like, but I ordered the hot & sour soup anyway:SP got the miso soup:And SP got to enjoy both soups! He said the miso was good but could have been a bit warmer. He liked the hot & sour soup, too, and said it was spicy but not too spicy (could have been spicier) and it gave him the hiccups just like any hot & sour soup he eats.

I ordered the Fried Pork Dumplings appetizer:These are wonton wrapper dumplings, so much thinner and crisper than the usual doughy dumplings I get at Chinese restaurants. The filling wasn't just pork, there was sort of an egg roll filling taste to it, but it was good, and I enjoyed the sweet soy dipping sauce a lot.For his meal, SP chose the Red Curry Chicken:He got brown rice. I swiped his fried wonton wrapper. I figured that if he got both soups and one of my dumplings, I could eat his fried wonton. The curry was red chili paste in coconut milk. He enjoyed his meal.

I opted for Sesame Chicken:And of course I got white rice!! The egg roll was good, I even dipped it in some sauce. I liked that it was small, thus increasing the amount of wrapper to filling. Usually I don't like egg rolls because I think there's way more filling than wrapper and to me, the tasty part is the wrapper, not the filling! The sesame chicken was fine. The sauce almost tasted like some kind of BBQ sauce, which surprised me.

After lunch we were too full for dessert, but SP ordered a green tea bubble tea:He really likes bubble teas, slurping up the tapioca balls. He was surprised there was milk in this one, making it creamy, and whipped topping on top. He said it was good, but he likes the bubble teas at Rose Tea Cafe better.

I thought our service was good. We did not have any long waits; the soup, dumpling, and meals were spaced out nicely. Plates were promptly cleared. Both the man who seated us and took our order and another woman stopped by to check on us and see if everything was OK.

I was a bit skeptical of trying Papaya after some reviews I read on Urbanspoon and after an article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Post-Gazette noted that Papaya, which opened in September 2010, had to Americanize the menu, which I find a bit sad. I might not like true Thai food, but Robinson, like many suburbs, really needs some authentic Thai places (or authentic Chinese, Japanese, etc.) not some dumbed down American versions of these cuisines. I'm not sure I agree that Papaya has a higher price point than Panera or Chipotle -- $7.95 for lunch at Papaya seemes reasonable to me when I know that a sandwich at Panera is $6-7 and I'm pretty sure Chipotle is similarly priced. As for quantity of food, I thought the lunch portions were fine, and for me, more than I could eat. I brought home half my rice and half my chicken.

As for some comments on Urbanspoon, again, I didn't find lunch over-priced. We were not charged by the number of tea cups placed on the table for tea but charged for the pot of tea we had. I would say the food was not super fantastic/must return again soon, but it was certainly average/edible Asian cuisine. Not the best Sesame Chicken I've ever had, but not the worst. I glanced at the dinner options and prices and nothing struck me as terribly overpriced, but I suppose I can't really judge that because I didn't eat dinner/see the dinner portion size.

Definitely a nice addition to the Robinson dining scene.

Papaya Fine Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon


  1. I think they must have changed the prices some-I know the last time I went probably in November, lunch was closer to $10 per person. I know the first time we went the wonton soup was $5 per bowl and it is now $3.95 (which I still think is a bit pricy). I should probably try it again.

  2. I think it's absurd to compare pricing at a local restaurant to pricing at a Panera/Chipotle. They are CHAINS!