Admittedly I am a biased reviewer. My wife, a caring excellent home chef herself, and I were one of the first customers when the restaurant literally was empty except for us. We were passerbys who were attracted by the "Contemporary Vietnamese" sign because we like Vietnamese cooking, but even if you hate this type of Asian food, I can assure you that you will love Papaya.
Let start with the atmosphere. The place is in an unassuming strip mall on Bethlehem Pike, just north of the 202 bypass. Inside is a charming restaurant with little more than a down tables of varying size. When we were last there on Christmas Eve, one table was set for 10, and the wonderful engaging family owners were ready for a full house. Son, Patrick, well- trained at the nearby Po Li, is the king of the immaculately clean open kitchen.
Complementary shrimp chips came shortly after we sat. They're my 7 yo granddaughter's favorite food. Give me some wine and chips, and I am set for the night, but I didn't stop there. The sautéed brussel sprouts were the best we have eater. Usually served with pork belly, we prefer without. Yummy is the description for the spicy shrimp in a martini glass. We passed on the wing that night, but at other times they were terrific. So many other great small dishes! We eat a lots of salmon yet frequently we find the dish not up to my wife's barbecue variety at most restaurants. Patrick's salmon, served with rice, is as good. Sorry, honey! Add soy suave to taste. Spare ribs, chicken entree, and pad tai are other favorites. We have not tried dessert, but some day we will. Definitely coming back!
Casual dress for sure. BYO. Reasonably priced, especially considering the quality.