A pleasant late lunch at Rai Rai Ken, Gaisano Mall, Davao

It’s been over a year  or two since I last dined at Rai Rai Ken in Gaisano Mall Davao. The last time wasn’t  bad. But it didn’t give me any reason to come back to spend for a relatively pricier  meal when I could enjoy a much cheaper one elsewhere.

Unsatisfying was how I’d sum up my last visit there. The first item I ordered wasn’t available and they didn’t serve cold soba, which was what I was craving for at that time. The restaurant’s ambiance didn’t work for me either. Not that there was something to complain about the cleanliness, fixtures, and all. I just didn’t feel comfortable dining there during my last visit.

Yesterday’s experience, however, was a lot better than I expected. I went there to reward myself with a Japanese meal after dealing with weeks of stressful work. The first thing I noticed when I entered was that the interior seemed to have undergone some improvements. I think it was better than the old look.

As for the food, here are some impressions on the items I ordered:

Salmon sashimi (half)

The slices were thicker and the color was paler than the ones I’ve tried in other restaurants. They were sitting on top of thinly sliced turnips (I think) and carrots. The first slice I had was too cold, as if the (frozen?) fish hasn’t thawed properly yet. But the rest were okay. They were generous with the wasabi and I felt a bit guilty since I only used a small portion of it. I couldn’t help but think about the cost it would have saved them if they served a smaller portion. But then again, not all diners are as careful with wasabi as I am.

Verdict: I’d be happy to order it again.

Chicken Teriyaki

I mistakenly ordered chicken teriyaki instead of chicken teriyaki don so I had to order rice separately. One serving could easily feed two persons. It was served soon after I finished the sashimi so that’s a plus to the server for good timing.

Verdict: I’d probably order it again but preferably after I’ve tried the other dishes, especially the wide-variety of ramen.

Coffee Jelly Parfait

Coffee jelly parfait
Coffee jelly parfait

“Coffee jelly” were the magic words for me. I love coffee jelly, always and forever. It was a bit of a disappointment though because it was heavy on everything else but the coffee jelly. The two scoops of ice cream (one vanilla and one chocolate), the generous topping of whipped cream, and the chocolate swirl overpowered the taste of the square slices of coffee jelly. I prefer coffee jelly with just a scoop of vanilla ice cream (like what they serve in Shinjuku restaurant in Makati) or with just a serving of milk and syrup on the side (like in Ryuma cafe).

Verdict: I’ll probably skip the dessert next time.

I studied the menu again a few minutes after I placed my order and saw that they have a good selection of ramen. But what really surprised and pleased me was that they now have cold soba. I regretted not perusing the menu carefully before placing my order. I would have definitely ordered it had I seen it much earlier.

It was a pleasant late lunch, all in all. The server was good and was fairly quick to attend to guests’ needs. I just noticed that they don’t do pre-bussing, which is alright up to a certain point I guess. I just couldn’t help but wonder how my table would have looked if I were dining with a group.

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