Raya is located in the same space as the original branch of Cowfish – superbly situated in the ever-expanding Hazelwood food precinct. This is a vibey few street blocks, alluring with its European-style street-side dining that at night turns into something reminiscent of a large outdoor food market. Raya offers an extensive mix of Asian cuisines, with some interesting combinations that are not always as successful, such as the Indian-inspired steamed dim sum har gow.
Restaurant name: Raya
Address: 11 Hazelwood Road, Hazelwood, Pretoria
Phone number: 074 111 8033
Opening times: Lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday, and lunch only on Sunday
Average price of a main course: R135
Corkage fee: R90 for still wines, R110 for sparkling wines
Parking situation: Some parking areas available in the vicinity, but mainly on-street parking
Food type: Asian fusion
Best for: Vibey night out with family and friends
Even though the menu lists categories such as seafood and steaks from the grill as well as a burger section, the entire menu has a decidedly Pan-Asian feel. Look out for Korean galbi BBQ flank steak, or a Japanese crisp chicken dish called karaage, which consists of crisply fried chicken thighs on julienned vegetables and dressed with Japanese mayonnaise and a nikiri glaze and served with a side of scallion rice. The burgers are somewhat more international, with the likes of Vesuvio, Aztec and Amazonia as options. The remainder of the menu is a delightful mash of Asian flavours that include Vietnamese crystal rolls for starters, yakitori, a somewhat expensive ramen and laksa section, and a section promising delicious, stir-fried noodles. The Thai yellow curry satay is highly recommended, as well as the shrimp roll bao buns, even though the latter is advertised on the menu as being made from brioche dough. The butter chicken momo dim sum was not so successful, and the curry buttered dipping sauce accompanying it was mildly peculiar. Raya has a “designer sushi” section that includes an array of innovative sushi items: futomaki, a Ryu Roll, Temple Roll or a Red Panda that is made from spicy prawns and tempura Cali roll cubes encased in tobiko or crab caviar.
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The best thing about fusion cuisine, from an international perspective, is that one can generally end a meal with an espresso or a cappuccino, or a digestif of some sort. Raya offers a great selection of whiskeys, beers, craft and draught beers, craft gins and more. Their wine list includes delights such as Bortolomiol DOC Treviso Brut and extra dry Van Loveren Daydream Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Springfield Life from Stone Sauvignon Blanc and Steenberg Ruby Dry Rose.
Floor managers are immediately at hand to guide one to your table, even willing to swap reserved tables around for early arrivals that may prefer another table. The service staff are well informed and able to quickly answer any immediate questions, such as clarifying that a previous guest review that claimed that certain items took a long time to arrive at the table had been noted and addressed. The service staff are able to make useful recommendations and even though the restaurant was virtually full, a handful of waiters were able to manage all the tables quite capably. The staff wear masks and hand sanitiser is available.
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The attractive jungle scene bordering the menus echoes the décor, which sets the stage for the lush, elegant, Asian-inspired feel of the restaurant. An outside area runs the length of the restaurant, and it is a both a blessing and a curse that there is parking right in front of the restaurant since this makes for a slightly boxed-in atmosphere. If you are keen to see your food being prepared, you could view the action in the open kitchen from the bar, where a deft barman shows off his skills.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.