Ray’s Bar and Restaurant: A Pure Ray of Light

restaurant review

A short walk from the Liaoxia metro station, tucked away behind the Sheraton hotel is one of Houjie’s best hidden treasures. Ray’s Bar and Restaurant oozes hospitality as you enter, offering a warm inviting décor with smiling faces eager to assist.

More often than not, the man himself is present, with his schnauzer Bobolina in tow. You simply cannot help feeling relieved by the authenticity of the establishment, which is now entering its third successful year of business.

For those used to the Western comforts of Dongcheng, it is worth enduring a short stint on the subway to explore the unique delights that Ray’s has to offer. Born in India and raised in the US, Ray has created a niche enterprise that consists of a Mexican/Indian fusion menu.

Regarding the Indian side of the menu, everything is halal and cooked tandoor style in a clay oven. Contemporary dishes such as lamb rogan josh and biryani rice will surely grab your attention, while the egg masala or distended onion bhaji may be slightly more intriguing for the striving Punjab connoisseur. On the other hand, there are the standard Mexican mainstays like tacos or chimichangas, which can easily sate any palate. The classic bar food like burgers and buffalo chicken tenders is there, as well, for the traditionalists out there.

I must confess to visiting Ray’s regularly and I have taken great pleasure in steadily working my way through the menu and seeing it constantly evolve with customers’ feedback. Sit there long enough and you’ll see Ray working his way around the place, getting opinions on his food and offering up trial samples of his latest creations.

On my most recent visit, I opted for the tried and tested enchiladas smothered in melted cheese and served with homemade guacamole. I also stuffed in a vegetable samosa. I’m not a big fan of super spicy stuff, but the samosa has just the right amount of pep for me. I finished up with a traditional dessert called kheer (a sweet rice pudding with raisins).

As the evening ripened, the music grew louder and the drinking began. Frozen blue margaritas and baby Guinness’s being knocked back are the norm as the atmosphere comes alive. With each time I’m there, I leave much later, wondering where the time went.

If you are planning to visit, prepare to possibly write off your evening because once you enter, you surely won’t want to leave.

Find the restaurant here.