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July 30, 2022

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A characteristic pasta bar oozes cool vibe

IF it is pasta, then Yaya’s is the place to be.

The pasta bar was an instant hit when it opened just before the two-month citywide lockdown. Apart from eye-popping design features, they keep things nice and simple: No reservations are needed for less than five guests and offer a range of affordable pasta dishes based on one core principle: al dente (Italian for “to the tooth”).

Passionate young chefs prepare springy, delicate fresh pasta on a daily basis. The team serves silky strands rooted in Italian tradition and infused with local flavor profiles and seasonal sensibility. It’s a winning Sh-Ital formula.

Partners Andrew Moo, Dan Li and Mike Liu share a common vision of raising the bar in China’s food and beverage scene.

“We want to create memorable dining experiences that are fun, unpretentious and approachable,” said Moo, who also has an F&B marketing company called Taste Collective. “Instead of feeling intimidated or uncertain, you can simply walk into the room and feel cozy and welcomed.

“I believe that the best memories are made around a table; it feels good to make others happy,” he said.

“We chose pasta as the main product because it is a comfort food that most people are familiar with; there is beauty in honesty and simplicity in the dish. A bowl of pasta is equivalent to a big warm hug.

“Anyone can boil pasta at home, but creating a truly beautiful pasta dish is quite difficult.”

None of the partners are Italian, so even the classic recipe is ripe for a creative twist and a fresh perspective.

For the more traditional recipes, the team has substituted Pasta di Gragnano for fresh pasta for a better result. The handmade tagliatelle, pappardelle, ravioli and lasagna sheets are paired with some of the city’s most distinctive and flavorful sauces.

For example, pappardelle with splashed chili and confit egg yolk is probably the most “Chinese” of all.

It reminds me of the famous noodle dish biangbiang mian, hand-ripped noodles with chili oil topping from Shaanxi Province. At Yaya’s, chef Dan uses pappardelle and a spicy oil sauce made with hot red chili from Sichuan Province.

Those who cannot tolerate spicy food should look for other options, like Mapo tofu lasagna, which means about 30 orders per day.


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