Most people will tell you that restaurants with a view will usually produce an average culinary experience. After lunching at Raya, I’ll have to say, that statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. The minute you enter the restaurant, the expansive window running the entire length of the dining room is a breath-taking sight. Every table affords a view of the Pacific Ocean and your meal can easily run much longer than you originally anticipated.
While we perused the menu, a tantalizing bread bowl was brought to the table and it was the most difficult thing to stop myself from eating more than I should have. I was trying to cut down on carbs but I told myself, a taste wouldn’t hurt. Sadly, I took about two to three tastes more than I needed to.
We started with a duo of ceviches. Ceviche Bay Scallops is absolutely delightful with a seasoning I am highly familiar with — furikake, a seaweed based seasoning Japanese people often put on their rice or rice porridge.
Ceviche Mixto is a mixture of squid, shrimp and white fish in a delicious tart dressing. The seafood is fresh and whets the appetite in anticipation for what else is about to arrive.
I was a little skeptical about the Avocado Tempura as I’ve tasted this from several other establishments which did not please me, but of course, I should’ve known better than to judge this before tasting it. The avocado was soft on the inside with a lovely crunchy exterior. Served with watermelon, the fruit cuts the oil from the tempura batter and creates a perfectly harmonized mouthful.
For the entrees, we selected Miso Alaskan Black Cod — a perfectly prepared piece of fish with a light brushing of miso. The flavorful bean paste did not overpower the delicate white fish while the acoutrements of braised daikon radish and asparagus were seasoned just very subtly to complement the dish. Lemon togorashi aioli gave a spicy citrus kick while the kabayaki sauce lent a salty sweet component.
Pan Seared Sea Scallops was definitely one of the highlights of the meal, although everything was exquisitely prepared. Succulent scallops seared to perfection shared space with roasted corn, sushi rice, nopalito (cactus), with tender pieces of char siu pork belly, snap peas sitting in a white soy mojo. The combination of flavors brought our senses to the fore and it was just heavenly.
An order of Truffle Fries was requested and I tried my hardest to stay away as I was on a low carb kick, but couldn’t resist and managed to shove a handful down my gullet. They were too good to pass up.
And while we were all rather full by now, we couldn’t pass up on the tempting desserts on offer.
Sticky Toffee Pudding was definitely true to its name. It was sticky, gooey and just what the sweet tooth fairy ordered, but it was really not all that sweet which appealed to my palate. I had a spoonful to taste but knew there was one more to come.
Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce was really difficult to overlook. Crispy with a soft interior, coated with just a dusting of sugar and the warm chocolate dipping sauce was just about enough to send me over the edge.
A trip to Raya deserves at least three hours, to soak in the view, sip on a cocktail and enjoy the wonders of what the menu has to offer. But don’t take my word for it, go experience it for yourself!
at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
1 Ritz Carlton Drive
Dana Point, CA 92629