Wednesday, December 4, 2013
A few weeks ago, my Hubby and I celebrated our 9th year wedding anniversary. I can’t believed the past 9 years flown by so quickly! He surprised me by taking me to a beautiful place for lunch and a lovely bouquet of roses (see picture below). Okay, not exactly. It was more like he took me to this gorgeous hotel that used this lovely bouquet to decorate the lobby. hahaha…..But close enough, so I’m happy with that. On our anniversary day, we dropped off the kids at school, then we went to our destination and arrived mid-morning at Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
We had a lunch reservation at Raya, a restaurant located inside Ritz-Carlton (more to that in just a moment). So, we spent the morning checking out the hotel and the gorgeous view around the area. It was the Elephant Parade event so there were quite a few adorable elephants decors throughout the hotel.
This one is called Karma. You can click on the picture below to enlarge it and read about the design and meanings….and price tag, etc.
We arrived starving so we ordered “a little” breakfast at the coffee shop and seated outside the patio to enjoy breakfast with the breath-taking view. It was to our surprise that the breakfast sandwich panini turned out so big. Luckily we only ordered one to share. Got to save up some room for lunch, right?
While we were enjoying our breakfast, we have a special visit by this fella (see picture below). I bet he was hungry too. Check out the view behind him, he sure lives in a paradise!
After breakfast, we walked around the property and enjoyed some fresh air and gorgeous views. Although you can’t quite see it from the pictures, there were quite a few surfers at the beach that day. The weather was so perfect for an outdoor walk along the hotel property.
When it was time for our lunch reservation, we weren't exactly hungry yet. But we need to finish lunch on time in order to be back at school to pick up the kiddos. When we arrived at Raya, the hostess advised us politely that it’ll be just a couple of minutes to put some final touches at our table before they can seat us. I didn't’t understand what “final touches” she was referring to until we arrived at our table.
It was a lovely table for two by the window that we can see the gorgeous view of the beach, along with all these fresh rose pastels and a note. Aw….it was just so sweet and personal. I really love how the restaurant paid attention to details like this. It certainly made us feel special. After all, it was our special day.
Soon after we ordered, this beautiful bowl of complementary bread arrived. It was served with butter, house-made Ketchup and ricotta cream. It could be because we weren't really hungry, or, I’m just so used to my own homemade bread and rolls. We weren't impress with these rolls and buns at all. They were quite chewy to our liking. But of course, we didn't come here for the bread. So, we only tried a small bite of each one.
I ordered a cocktail, the Mojito Cuzco – bacardi rum / cucumber / lime / mint / midori. It’s so refreshing and delicious! I can taste every single ingredient in it and the combination is simply wonderful. I guess I would need to replicate that at home some day, real soon.
Here’s the lunch menu for Fall 2013. You can order from the Small Plates, Large Plates and/or sides. I wish I’m more hungry so that we could try a few more dishes from each session. But we got to save room for desserts too, right? Feel free to click on the picture below to enlarge the menu.
We ordered the Half Dozen West Coast Kumamoto Oysters on the half shell, served with chipotle honey mignonette. The mignonette was pretty mild, it compliment the super fresh oyster really well and not over powering at all. The oysters were sweet, super fresh and packed with the wonderful aroma of the ocean.
We also tried the Lobster Tacos – flour tortilla / black bean puree / chile de arbol salsa / avocado cilantro. It was one of their signature dishes from the small plates selection.
It was wonderful and I love the generous portion of lobster chunks in them. The picture below is a closer look. I personally loved it. Hubby didn't like the black bean puree in them as he’s not a big fan for beans.
Up next, the Pan Seared Sea Scallops - roast corn / polenta / char siu pork belly / snap peas / white soy mojo. The scallops were gigantic! I love the wonderful crust outside and it was cooked to perfection. The Char-Siu Pork belly was to die for and the creamy polenta was the perfect base for these wonderful scallops. The scallops were perfectly seasoned, sweet, savory, moist and very tender.
For dessert, we ordered the Cinnamon Sugar Churros - piloncillo poached pineapple / caramelized white chocolate ice cream / vanilla bean caramel. I've eaten a fair share of churros and I can definitely say these were the best churros I've ever tasted, period. The crust was crispy and the inside was moist and tender; packed with wonderful cinnamon sugar on the outside. the Vanilla bean caramel sauce compliment perfectly with them and added the perfect amount of sweetness to the churros. I would come here just to indulge with these churros, any time!
Last but not lease, weave got this gorgeous complementary chocolate mousse cake from the restaurant to celebrate our specially day. It was rich and decadent. The slightly tangy berry sauce on the bottom was perfect with the cake.
As you can see, this restaurant got a spectacular view. If you’re celebrating a special day or a special occasion, I highly recommend this restaurant. Instead of lunch, book an early dinner reservation and enjoy the sunset view along with your dinner. I bet that would make an unforgettable dining experience for you and your loved ones. Thank you for reading and please stay tuned for more fun recipes, reviews, and giveaways on my future posts.
Click here to Raya’s Website
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629 USA
Phone: +1 (949) 240-2000
Restaurant Review Disclaimer: uTry.it restaurant reviews are solely based on our experience at each restaurant we visit. They were just our opinions. uTry.it and its owner were not compensated in any way to dine at these restaurants nor to write reviews.