Named “Restaurant of the Year” by Riviera Orange County in July 2011, Raya lives up to the acclaim with its unique Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine prepared with sustainable seafood, local produce, natural and organic meat and Chef Richard Sandoval’s signature Latin flavors.
A stunning restaurant with unparalleled views of the sweeping Laguna coastline, Raya is destination dining at its finest. If one is fortunate to partake in a leisurely pleasure or business lunch as I was, the gorgeous view can be appreciated from any table in the dining room.
Raya’s menu is divided into Small Plates, Large Plates, and Sides with designations for naturally gluten-free dishes. First to arrive, the unique cheesy bread poufs dusted with cumin are a delightfully telling teaser for what lies ahead. Warning: stop at one if you can!
Salmon Tiradito – mango, citrus, white soy ponzu, wasabi aioli, and pomegranate
The small plates offer an array of sustainable seafood selections from an assortment of ceviches, steamed mussels and clams, oysters on the half shell, to lobster tacos. Then there are the salads and Latin-influenced beef huaraches, Dungeness crab quesadilla, as well as Asian chicken dim sum. With 17 ways to go, it was not an easy decision, but I’m confident none of your choices will be disappointing.
Dungeness Crab Curry Quesadilla – oaxaca, manchego, green onions, cilantro, and roasted poblano-honey salsa
Beef Huarache – NY sirloin, manchego cheese, black bean, caramelized onion, and chile toreado salsa
Large plates are pared down to 12 selections including Wagyu beef short ribs, dry-aged NY steak, Jidori chicken, and a vegetarian Arepe. Seafood choices include organic King salmon, black bass, Alaskan black cod, dscallops, and a Maine lobster salad .- all certified sustainable by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch.
Pan Seared Sea Scallops – roast corn, sushi rice, nopalito, char siu pork belly, snap peas. and white soy mojo
Chimichurri Jidori Chicken Breast – cinderella pumpkin, caramelized apple, wild rice, cavalo negro kale, pipian sauce, and lime pomegranate pine nut salsa
Miso Alaskan Black Cod – daikon radish, charred broccolini, lemon togarashi aioli, and kabayaki sauce
You taste with your eyes; first, the vibrant colors and myriad textures captivate, then, the complexity and layers of flavors render you speechless as you savor each tantalizing bite – all are beautifully executed by Chef Marissa Gerlach.
Being fully satisfied and wanting nothing more from life but to recline on a chaise lounge poolside or a stroll on the sand with the surf chasing our heels, we shared the Dessert sampler – a fitting finale to a stellar afternoon.
Dessert Sampler – milk chocolate coconut cake, cinnamon spice churro with kahlua pudding, dulce de leche and almond tres leches with praline ice cream
I can only end by saying, you owe it to yourself to reserve an afternoon sometime soon, make your way slowly down the coast and treat yourself to a meal at Raya – whether it be lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch, just do it – you’re worth it! And, don’t wait three years, like I did 😉
The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel has generously agreed to offer you a chance to WIN dinner for two! (Note: holidays excluded, includes appetizer, entree and dessert, gratuity and alcohol not included.) Simply leave a comment below, telling us which of the stunning dishes is calling your name. For an additional entry (so that’s 2 entries total), we’d love for you to Like the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel and She’s Cookin’ pages on Facebook and leave a second comment letting us know – we love new friends If you already Like us – let us know that, too. Comments will be accepted until Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 10:00 p.m. The winner will be randomly selected and notified via the email included with your comment.
The Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629 USA