We continue to countdown our 100 favorite dishes at local restaurants. We'll be sharing these with you every weekday until our annual Best Of Issue comes out. Enjoy!
#33. Sweet Corn Soup at Raya at The Ritz Carlton
In a recent review of Raya at the Ritz I said that the sweet corn soup is so good it will distract you from the Travel Channel-appropriate views of the Pacific Ocean. I reiterate that assessment but add this tip: if you come with a date, tell them that you'll be sharing it. The kitchen will split it into two bowls at no extra charge (keep in mind it's already a $14 bowl of soup). This way, you won't have to fight over the last spoonful.
As I mentioned, it's served unassembled so you can appreciate all that goes into it, like a Ferrari dealer giving you a peek under the hood before handing you the key.
On the plate are the soup components for your joy ride: a perfectly cooked clam; tiny tufts of crab and lobster meat; puréed avocado in an artful swipe; a truffled masa dumpling that looks like a tater tot; and, finally, a black blot of puréed huitlacoche, the corn fungus that launched a thousand hilarious gross-out blog posts (though it's really nothing to be scared of).
All could easily constitute a gourmet-plated dish unto itself, but then, when you give the signal, your server drowns it with the gold liquid of the creamed corn soup poured from a gravy boat.
Your first sip is astoundingly silky. On your second, you realize it's as fun as an Etch A Sketch. Flick your spoon one way, the inky huitlacoche streaks through the yellow soup like a calligrapher's quill on parchment. Flick it another way, and you're reacquainted with the salty flecks of crab meat you met earlier.
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Figure out how you'll pay for the rest of the dinner later.
Raya at the Ritz-Carlton, 1 Ritz-Carlton Dr., Dana Point, (949) 240-2000; www.ritzcarlton.com.
The rest of the list!
#100. Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
#99. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
#98. Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
#97. Flying Saucer at Alberto's
#96. Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
#95. Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
#94. Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
#93. Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
#92. Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
#91. Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
#90. Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
#89. Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
#88. Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian Tapas
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
#81. Chipotle-Piloncillo Goat Cheese at SOL Cocina
#80. Nem Nuong Cuon at Au Lac Restaurant
#79. Blackened Mushroom & Tofu Burger at Taco Loco
#78. Fried Veggie Fish Fillet at Dong Phuong Tofu
#77. Tofu Vegetable Salad at BCD Tofu House
#76. Che Ba Mau at Thach Che Hien Khanh
#75. Barracuda Sushi at Ohshima
#74. Whole Lamb with Kabsa at Olive Tree
#73. 5 a.m. Chitterlings at Tri-Village
#72. Spinach Empanadas at El Gaucho #2
#71. Croissants at Molinos Bakery
#70. Beso de Monja at El Rincón del Sabor
#69. Fatteh at Kareem's
#68. Korean Beef Rib Sandwich at Kaffa
#67. Rice Flour Pupusas at Pupusería San Sivar
#66. The Hash Browns at Pop's Cafe
#65. Seven Courses of Beef at Thien An
#64. Baby Back Ribs at Blake's Place
#63. Fish and Chips at The Chippy
#62. Roasted Beef Marrow Bones at Brasserie Pascal
#61. The Lunch Buffet at Tandoor Cuisine of India
#60. Eggs, Charcuterie and Bread at Uyen Thy Bistro
#59. Wang Mandoo at Myung In
#58. Gobi Paratha at Traditions
#57. Kibbeh at Zait & Zaatar
#56. Chicago Dog at Portillo's
#55. Persian Buffet at Irvine's Wholesome Choice
#54. Anything at night at Joe's Italian Ice
#53. Salteñas at Rollie's Bakery
#52. Iskender Kabob at Doner G
#51. Secret Beer-Battered Fish Burrito at the OG Taco Adobe
#50. Bun Rieu at Kim Huong
#49. Truffle Fries at Andrei's
#48. Monday Night Pizza Special at Pizza Shack
#47. Corn Dog at Disneyland's The Little Red Wagon
#46. Linguini with Clams at Franco's Pasta Cucina
#45. Chamoyada at Natural
#44. Meatloaf at Memphis
#43. Paletas at Delicias de México
#42. Omakase at Sushi Shibucho
#41. Odessa Sandwich at Moscow Deli
#40. Tacos de Rajas con Queso at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
#39. Crepes con Caramel at Anepalco's Cafe
#38. "Cobra" Chicken Sandwich at Memphis at the Santora.
#37. Beef Shawerma Plate at Sahara Falafel
#36. Flan at Taleo Mexican Grill
#35. Ahi Poke at Fish Camp
#34. Chao Chow Rice Noodle Soup at Trieu Chau