Rai Rai Can’t

Before I left for Cambodia in 2004, Rai Rai Ken was my favorite Japanese restaurant. I didn’t mind paying more for the food because they were really delicious. Over the years, whenever I was on holiday in Manila, I would eat at least once at Rai Rai Ken with friends and family. I was glad to know that they had an outlet at SM San Lazaro, which was very close to where I live. However, the last time I ate there was around 2010. I’ve seen many negative feedback on its food and service but this didn’t stop me from wanting to dine there again. After all, I had many wonderful meals there. I’d been planning to eat there again for weeks now but this plan only saw fruition today. I was waiting for my friend and having an hour to spare before my appointment, I decided to have lunch at Rai Rai Ken.

There was a lunch crowd at the restaurant, which was a good sign for me. However, I was alarmed when I saw “Batchoy Ramen” in the menu. So I ordered what I thought to be ‘the old reliables’, which were Gyoza and Beef Udon. But first, a note on the service. Though there was a lunch crowd when I came, the restaurant wasn’t that crowded because I was seated right away. But the wait staff seemed so harried. The lady who took my order acted as if she’d rather be elsewhere; she wouldn’t even maintain eye contact. When I asked her if they served house tea (as I remembered), she curtly replied that they serve their house tea cold. I asked for it, nevertheless.

Then there was the wait. I know I didn’t order an elaborate dish, but I waited too long. They didn’t give me anything to drink while waiting. When my Gyoza arrived, the waiter just slid it in on the table, as if I were an unwelcome diversion to his trek towards the front of the restaurant. He didn’t bother to serve the plate with the name facing me. This is a little thing, but it says a lot about the quality of wait staff.

the forlorn-looking Gyoza

the forlorn-looking Gyoza

As for the Gyoza, as you can see in the picture, have you seen a sorrier bunch than these? One side was charred too much and another looked un-cooked. The wrapper tasted doughy and the texture indicated it dried out after being steamed.

the so-so Udon

the so-so Udon

The Beef Udon was a bit better because the the noodles were perfectly cooked. However, the ratio of beef to noodles wasn’t like the one I was used to. The flavor was just so-so. I’ve definitely had better meals at Rai Rai Ken. At this point of the meal, I hadn’t seen a drop of their cold house tea. I was given a glass of cool water, nothing more.

Another thing I’d like to point out is their ugly, cheap-looking, buy-by-bulk chopsticks. I mean, I felt I was going to have splinters in my lips. Tokyo Tokyo has better chopsticks, and it’s a fast food outlet.By this time also my spirit has been crushed by sadness at the sorry state of my favorite restaurant. I’m not sure if this is a franchise issue or a chain-wide problem but they better shape up if they want to stay in business.

my un-finished lunch

my un-finished lunch

After my unfinished meal, my friend and I ran off to have coffee and cake so I can wash away the taste of my disappointing lunch experience at Rai Rai Ken.

Advertisements

Friday Food Shot 40

Pictured here is part of the 2011 reunion dinner with my co-fellows at the 1996 Dumaguete National Writers’ Workshop. We had it at Adarna Resto. Clockwise from top: Pancit 1913, Grilled Tilapia, Adobo Batangas, and Batanes Rice. What I remember most about the dinner was how elegant the food service and presentation were. And of course, how happy we were to see each other after so many years.

foodsnappie-40