Last year, we took the news about the felling of the great Yum Yum Tree in Friends Colony market with a heavy heart. The restaurant—over 6,000 square feet of unrepentant Japanophile kitsch, with some Sino-Baroque swag thrown in—was a magic faraway land of fried cream-cheese wontons with fruity sauces, peking duck and dragon rolls, and a conveyor belt that, for the first time ever, allowed Delhiwallas to pop maki sushi like masala peanuts on certain nights of the week.
Not that we ever treated YYT with much decorum, but the complex did include a serious dining room. At Yum Yum Cha, which opened in Select Citywalk mall in 2014, founder Varun Tuli chucked out the formal in favour of the funk. A second outlet popped up two years later in Cyber Hub. With a flourishing catering business and delivery outfit Noshi under Tuli’s belt, only the obnoxious overheads and picky clientele of Khan Market remained to be conquered.
The new Yum Yum Cha replicates and amplifies the design cues of its mall predecessors. Its narrow, two-storey space (only one floor is open when we visit) is inherently cramped, but the decorators have embraced the chaos, and it seems to work. Origami and tangram shapes explode across ceilings and walls; everything from the sauce boats to the napkins are exquisitely detailed and mercilessly pop-chromatic.
The menu is also meticulously planned, full of drawings and descriptions. Several Yum Yum Tree classics linger in lists of dim sum, sushi and more substantial dishes. Waiters shuffle gracefully down the tight aisles, bearing us a very refreshing Thai orange and Kaffir lime drink in a milk bottle, and a subtle carpaccio of scallop and marinated cod roe (mentaiyaki). Behind them, chefs banter at an elevated counter as they prepare food.
We’re impressed at the consistency with which the Yum Yum kitchens have been rolling out pretty, fresh sushi for years – it is, and remains, the best of its class in the city.
We order a sampler maki platter, with California rolls, dynamite (salmon, prawn tempura, spicy mayo), and dragon (bbq eel, tobanjan, avocado). We’re impressed at the consistency with which the Yum Yum kitchens have been rolling out pretty, fresh sushi for years – it was, and remains, the best of its class in the city.
Our paper bowl of char siu ramen is a proper meal: there's no skimping on asparagus spears and soft pieces of pork here. Replete, we toy with our matcha mochi (the rice cake covering could be gooey-er) while eavesdropping on the conversations of a set of expats at one table, and a group of teen girls with their barely older chaperoning maids on the other. From Khan Chacha to Yum Yum Cha, the more this market changes, the more it stays the same.
Getting there: Yum Yum Cha, 69 Khan Market, Middle Lane. A meal for two costs approximately Rs 2,500.
Accessibility: The restaurant is on the first floor and has no lift.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for meals.
This review was contributed by Sonal Shah, journalist and editor. Read more of her work on sonalshah.in.
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