Pao, Naan and Chutney photo cred - Eater.
Back in August, on one of NYC's most sweltering nights, I enjoyed a stunning dinner at Pao Walla in Soho with two friends. I don’t know if it was the appropriately soaring temps or Resy’s well-timed pro-tip about the chutney sampler that arrived just before our reservation, but I was really looking forward to chef/owner Floyd Cardoz’s reimagined take on modern Indian cuisine in a more casual setting than his much celebrated, Tabla.
I knew the place was new on the scene, but I was surprised when chef Cardoz told us that they had only been open for a short 2 weeks, because the service was seamless and the atmosphere was buzzing with the kind of energy you’d find on a busy weekend night - but it was only Monday. Clearly the word has spread and I’m not the only person in town looking forward to the NYC rejuvenation of Chef Cardoz’s authentic, but inventive, Indian cuisine. We even walked by Salman Rushdie on the way out, which, given the Mumbai roots he shares with Cardoz, seems like a good sign.
The meal really lived up to my expectations, but there were lots of pleasant surprises, including an Indian wine (a first for me) that was young and vibrant and hummed along well with the perfectly spiced food. The small plates and chutneys were a joy – Roasted Green Chickpea Chat, Shishito Pakoras, Heirloom Tomatoes with Kadai Masala, Ginger and Holy Basil, Baby Pea Tendrils with Fenugreek Leaves - I continued to dive into all of them well after my stomach was telling my brain to stop. What surprised me the most was his selection of breads. Naan, delicious in their own right, were to be expected, but I don't think anyone could have seen the bacon naan coming. Bacon. Naan. And the tingmo - a Tibetan spiraled, steamed bread with a spicy garlic filling that no words can really do justice was described to us as a, “savory kind of cinnabon,” which is basically the bread of my dreams. And it has filled them since.
I write about food and I talk about food and I eat a lot of food. Co-writer of Amanda Freitag's, The Chef Next Door and Cooking in my Street Clothes by Missy Robbins (Fall '17). Co-founder of Family Meal, cooking classes that allow family members to learn, cook and eat together, taught by pro chefs.