Raya – The latest culinary hotspot in Pretoria

Raya Restaurant The Village

By Renate Engelbrecht

Tuesday, Feb 15

In the bustling neighbourhood of Hazelwood, in the heart of what has become known as Pretoria’s foodie hub, there is a new eatery on everyone’s lips. The Village has gained some fresh flavours this past week, with restaurant Raya opening its doors to the public. Although it comes with a sense of familiarity upon entry, the Asian-inspired eatery boasts cuisine of a whole different caliber.

Raya’s setting is simple, yet femininely elegant with a bit of a tropic vibe attached to it. The word Raya has various meanings in various languages, but in the Malaysian culture it means ‘grand’, ‘great day’ or ‘day of celebration.’ In essence, it means to celebrate and at Raya you can certainly celebrate in style.

Raya has a feminine touch
Raya has a feminine touch. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

The menu is almost a little intimidating with its unlimited dining options – from signature showpiece sushi (which is mainly what it’s all about at Raya) to seafood and steak – you’re bound to find something you like whether you’re a conscious diner, in search of sushi or craving quality red meat.

Raya bar
The bar. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

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Lucky for us, the owner’s suggestions were right up our alley for a light lunch in the heart of the Jacaranda City. We agreed to some Bao Buns for starters and a sushi platter for mains. That cleared us from having to struggle to choose from the variety of enticing options.

Bao buns for starters at Raya
Bao Buns for starters at Raya. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

We devoured the Phoenix Fire Bao – a pair of Gua Bao (which usually comes in a trio, but we were only two) with Japanese crisp chicken thigh, coriander, spring onion, pickled red onion, cabbage, red onion, and a special Raya spicy mayo. These Bao Buns not only had a refreshing and unique taste to it, but also looked elegant, yet sassy on carefully chosen plates. We then dived into the platter packed with some of Raya’s designer sushi, carefully analysing and identifying each one’s exceptional favours and ingredients. There was charcoal sushi garnished in gold, deep-fried sushi with a crunch that packed a punch, rump rolls for meat lovers and more.

Designer signature sushi at Raya
Designer sushi at Raya. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

Raya also offers an array of vegan dining options and when they use colouring – like with the charcoal sushi – it’s all natural, which is a win-win for conscious diners.

The restaurant interior
The restaurant’s interior. Image: Renate Engelbrecht

Raya is likely to become the place for people meeting up for a midday glass of wine and sushi, or locals popping in for sundowners and seafood. It’s a dining destination that brings the taste of Tahiti to your doorstep. One where you can have a taste of something completely out of the ordinary even on a rather ordinary day.

A quick glass of wine
A quick glass of wine. Image: Wikus Engelbrecht

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