No matter what the occasion is, Raya has always been a great joy to dine at. Call it the glorious view of the Pacific, call it the perfection of service, call it the delicious menu. No matter what you call it, the experience is always delightful.
We came here for brunch several Sundays ago and the first thing my son asked me was “will we see the ocean mommy?” I promised him he would and even offered him the best seat at the table facing the view. He had brought his own camera and was happily snapping shots of the blue ocean and everything else around him.
Our other brunching companion was The Hungry Dogg, and between the three of us, we were able to get a really great selection of what the menu has to offer. The brunch is $65 per person and encompasses a 3 course meal with champagne. I opted for iced coffee instead.
Our meal starts off with an Amuse Bouche of fruit cocktail, a vibrant bowl of seasonal fruits including beautiful berries bursting with color.
First courses include Sushi Trio, two pieces each of three different types of rolls including California spicy tuna and crunchy roll, served with ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.
The Shrimp and Crab cocktail was delicious. I’ve had the ceviche at Raya many times before and it is always incredible. The seafood is so sweet and fresh. Served with cocktail sauce, baja ceviche and louis sauce, this was my favorite.
Jamon Iberico arugula salad is a great way to showcase this flavorful ham. The addition of manchego cheese, toasted almonds, grapes, pickled mustard seeds tossed in a spicy balsamic vinaigrette is a light way to start.
I had mentioned that the service here was so outstanding that they will come and replace my iced coffee before I’ve passed the 3/4 mark on my glass (I’ve experienced this before with iced teas) and true to my words, another glass of iced coffee appeared in front of me shortly after. This is the kind of perfection one would expect from the Ritz-Carlton!
I was happy to see the entrees arrive as I was sipping on the iced coffee way too quickly — makes me very jittery. My son’s Wagyu Beef “Churrasco” was cooked to perfection. The grilled wagyu skirt steak was tender but with a good “chew factor”. I loved the grilled onions, and the mix of flavors from the achiote, chipotle hollandaise and chimichurri. Yuca fries was a welcoming change from the usual drab French fries generally served everywhere.
Chalupas Dungeness Crab Benedict was decent. The crab was the highlight of the entire dish. Corn, poached eggs, avocado and aji amarillo hollandaise accompanied, but didn’t stand out as much as I would have liked.
My choice was “Mano de Leon” Sea Scallops, which I’ve had before. It was a toss up between this and the Miso Alaskan Cod, which I’ve also had before. I’m glad I went with the scallops because they are always prepared to succulent perfection. Char siu pork belly added another dimension to the dish — not that it needed it. The only thing I didn’t care for was the cold sushi rice salad on the plate.
When it comes time for dessert, my first choice at Raya is always their house-made Cinnamon Spice Churros. These are cooked to order so they are hot when they arrive with a kahlua pot de creme and dulce de leche for you to either eat separately, or dip your churros in. I like mine au naturel and boy are these good!
I’m a sucker for bread pudding and the Chocolate Bread Pudding is a good choice with Jack Daniel’s, vanilla sauce and vanilla ice cream.
If you’re a fan of creme brulee, the Vanilla Creme Brulee is worth a try. The texture is spot on and the caramelization on top is of perfect consistency. Served with seasonal berries and coconut cookies. I am a huge fan of this creme brulee but if I had to choose one, the churros win hands down.
Sundays are meant for slow, leisurely activities and brunch at Raya is never hurried. You can sit and enjoy the view while you sip on another glass of champagne. No one will rush you, nor make you feel like you’re taking up valuable real estate — even though it IS pretty awesome with that view. Just relax and treat yourself and your loved ones to a very pampered experience.
at The Ritz-Carlton
1 Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, CA 92629