Papera is owned and run by Pakistanis, and the first surprise for the visitor, once they have navigated the narrow passage that leads to the dining room proper, is the rather kitsch decor. However, the seemingly alien trinkets, such as Beatrix Potter figurines and a Kerry Hallam print of the Riviera, sitting alongside traditional Pakistani instruments and colorful textiles points more to the authenticity of the place than to a jaded eye. The decor, like the food, is representative of both the staff and the many Pakistani clients who come for the home-away-from-home atmosphere the restaurant does so well.
The menu is neither expensive nor extensive, and finding what one wants is a remarkably simple task. Beginning with snacks, the samosa, either mince or veggie, should not be missed. Three rather large pieces may prove over-filling, but at ¥500 one can afford to be wasteful. Guilt is another matter, and a bottle of Grolsch (¥650), served with a complimentary papar and a sour Kachomer Salad (¥400) of chopped tomato, onion and cucumber will equally suffice. Big eaters can move straight on to the barbecued meats and fish, where Tandoori Chicken (¥600), Sekh Kabab (mutton, ¥600) and Fish Tikka (¥750) are all sizzling appetizers for the sizeable appetite.
Faced with low prices, a selection of mouthwatering entrees, and an unhurried atmosphere conducive to consuming, diners must be vigilant. The "Papera Experience" is not complete without one of the curry sets, each served with a whole nan, a small salad and a scoop of rice. Cheap, filling and quickly served, they are ideal for those on a budget, on a diet or on the go.
Page space doesn't allow for every curry to be listed, but some specials include: Chicken Butter (¥1000), a mild, creamy blend of sweet butter and soft chicken; Chicken Chili (¥1050), chicken in a spicy chili base of capsicums and onions; Minced Mutton, or keema, served either with cheese (JY1050), or with eggplant (¥1100); Indian vegetarian staples such as the potato and cauliflower Alo Gobi (¥950), the spinach and cheese Palak Panir (JY900) and the Chana Masala (¥900); Prawn Chili (¥1250), served with a chili and capsicum base; and the rich, chunky Fish Masala (¥1200).
There is a choice of five spice levels, from Mild, which contains a small measure of garam massala, to Very Very Hot, "for Indians" and those beyond caring. Take note: If the chosen curry is not within your spice parameters, it can be immediately exchanged.
Papera covers all bases: The bits and bobs necessary for parties are all there; complete sets that easily serve two are available from ¥1500 to ¥2000; and for the lone diner, the curry sets are unrivaled. For anyone lunching in the area, Papera's ¥850 all-you-can-eat-and-drink daytime menu (sorry lads - soft drinks only) is certain to prove difficult to resist and impossible to beat.