First Taste At Papaya Asian Street Food

This chopped salad with pork came via one of the chef’s suggestions at Papaya Asian Street Food, a new Clive restaurant focused on “Cali-Asian” cuisine.

Writer: Karla Walsh

Papaya Asian Street Food, a new Clive eatery, has been receiving rave reviews on social media. Within days of opening on Jan. 19, feedback poured in along the lines of “Holy smokes incredible!” and “top-notch service and flavor.” Based on that, I knew I needed to make my way there.

Papaya showcases “Cali-Asian cuisine, featuring Southeast Asian cuisine with a California twist,” owner Jay Wang, who operates the Wasabi Group of brands, told us. One of my gluten-free friends says she has already visited six times, and found plenty of vegan, paleo, keto-friendly and Whole 30-compliant options.

Wang tapped Jeremy Jessen, previously the owner of Local Yocals and farmHouse, to be Wasabi Group’s project manager and jump-start this fast-casual concept and menu. And chances are he’ll be on-site lending a hand to build your bowl or Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.

Choose from one of eight signature bowl options. My dining partner gave a thumbs up to “Koreatown” ($10.95), which includes beautifully cooked steak slices, jasmine rice, cucumbers, carrots, scallions, kimchi, caramelized egg, “Street Spice” and hoisin barbecue sauce. Or create your own combo like I did, with a chopped salad plus pork, veggies and green curry sauce ($7.95). You can’t go wrong and will likely leave feeling satisfied—especially if you add a three-piece order of dumplings ($3.50), available with chicken or veggie filling.

On my next visit, I can’t wait to dive into one of Papaya’s signatures stuffed inside a banh mi sandwich. Or, if we’re still living amidst a polar vortex, I may pair a 12-ounce bowl of Chinese chicken noodle soup ($4.65) with a side of chips ($1.85) and Papaya guacamole ($2.50 for 2 1/2 ounces) to heat things up.

Papaya Asian Street Food is open daily at 1255 N.W. 128th St. from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tell them I sent you, ask for the caramelized egg and “Street Spice” on whatever you order, and I bet you won’t walk away disappointed. See the full menu and order online here.

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