Thursday, May 5, 2011

Taco Tuesdays at Raya

Tacos are amazing, let that be heard loud and clear. With that being, said imagine eating Tacos that resemble fine pieces of art, loaded with exceptionally astounding ingredients that amaze and astound you with every bite. Flavors you wouldn’t commonly put together for whatever reason it may be (cause we can’t afford them on the daily or find them easily, being the first few that come to mind) are the stars of the show at Taco Tuesday w/ Chef Richard Sandoval, inside Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.

Recently hearing that the dynamic forces behind some of the best food in Southern California, had began to put their spin on the classic "Taco Tuesday, " we knew we were going to have to check this out and do it fast. If you have seen any of our previous reviews for Raya you already know that the scenery cannot be beat anywhere else on the coast. Great food, great views and an even greater staff pull together an ultra luxurious hotel that must you must visit in your lifetime.

One of the best things about the way this meal plays out is that you don’t have to attempt to select which Tacos you want to eat. The Prix Fixed menu ($65.00 per person and well worth every cent) means you will be treated to a wild ride through the minds of the amazing Chefs that oversee this remarkably forward thinking establishment.

The journey starts off with a “Botana” or appetizer course of Chips & Salsa, which couldn’t be further from your average bowl of corn chips and store bought salsa might I add. The incredibly fresh and vibrant bowl of Molcajete salsa that was served up surrounded by fresh-made Plantain, Yucca, Chicharrones & Boniato chips were hard to not devour as quick as they hit the table. If this was a hint of what was to come I knew I was in for something truly inspiring.

The first round of Tacos hit the table, labeled as “Tacos de Harina” for their flour shells and I couldn’t be more intrigued by how the thoughtful kitchen staff was keeping these delicately designed Canapès held together with mini clothes pins. 3 Tacos sitting side by side, each looking a tad bit more intricate than the next but yet all screaming eat me first were going to be my first victims of the night. 
The 1st being a Maine Lobster & Avocado Taco, 2nd a Korean Fried Chicken w/ a fresh Cucumber Kimchee Taco & 3rd a Pork Cheek w/ Chipotle Aioli & Pickled Onion Taco, were all consumed rather quickly, leaving all of the guests at our table amazed at how fresh and light each of them were. The way the multi cultural flavors played off each other, yet allowing each their own bit of shine on the plate was incredible.

Next up were the “Tacos de Maiz.” This time the trio consisted of a Pork Belly & Habanero Slaw Taco, a juicy Shortib, Adobo & Pickled Onion Taco and a “Lechon Style” Suckling Pig w/ Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa Taco. Talk about having déjà vu, these Tacos were eaten just as fast and enjoyed even more than their first round counterparts. Again, each tacos flavors are perfectly balanced so that the mouth is left with a taste that could destroy what was to be eaten next. That is a hard skill to acquire, because if you think about it, how many places can you go to and eat everything on the menu and not have them taste exactly the same after a few bites of each?
I have to say that with a nice libation and perfect timing on when you make your reservations (hopefully around sundown for the ultimate view) this could really become a spot that you wish to frequent more often to simply enjoy the fruits of your hard labor.

Rounding the corner was the next course of Tacos, labeled as “Otros Tacos” this is where the meal took a delightful turn towards the unexpected and truly set itself apart from anything else under the California Sun. 
This time we were given 5 Tacos, starting with a Potato w/ Tempura Fish, Preserved Lemon & Poblano Pepper Taco, a Boniato w/ Crisp Oyster, Caviar & Togarashi Taco (by far my favorite,) a Won Ton w/ Smoked swordfish & Mango Taco, a Sweet Potato w/ Foie Gras & Kumquat-Tequila Jam Taco and a Duck Carnitas w/ Daikon & Curry Apple Taco.
Words do these beautiful creations no justice. Just look at the photo and think about how bad you want to bite your screen and or cut out of work and head down the freeway for one of the best dinners you will ever have in your life.

If that wasn’t enough, the “Tacos de Postre” or Dessert Tacos course had hit the table and looked like something right out of Food Arts Magazine. Perfect plating, bright colors, soft Ice Cream, a delicate crunchy “Chocotaquito," caramelized pieces of fruit and Rum (one of our favorites) made it impossible to tell if the dessert course was served because they liked us or because they wanted to tease us, knowing this was the last course to be delivered after stuffing us like Thanksgiving Turkeys.

The final 3 "Tacos De Postre" being; A Banana Ice Cream “Chocotaquito”, A Pineapple- Coconut-Rum Taco and a Strawberry Blood Orange Cream Cheese Taco all of which deserved to be permanently placed on the menu (regardless of the season) finished off the evening exactly how it was expected to be handled, Sweetly.

Tuesday, a day that hardly gets any shine now can feel respected, loved and looked forward too, thanks to Chef’s Sandoval, Howe & Gerlach. A beautiful evening will be yours to behold if you allow them to take you on a tasteful journey around the world, all without leaving your seat.

For more info or reservations check out: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel Online.

1 comment:

  1. once again you have made us feel like we are missing out on something out in the OC. I think it is about time to get the kids a babysitter for the weekend and take the wife down PCH for a good old fashioned getaway. Beautiful photos.

    William Thurndall