Restaurant Ember – The exception to “hara hachi bu”

22 04 2011

I came across the japanese term “hara hachi bu” recently. It’s an Okinawan tradition which means to eat only till 80% full. While it’s a good strategy for avoiding obesity and living a healthy lifestyle, I find it useful and relevant in the art of food appreciation as well. I find that the most memorable meals are the ones where hara hachi bu comes into play, where you leave a restaurant only partially full and left wanting for more. Ever so often are we guilty of attending a buffet and gorging ourselves to get our money’s worth, only to be left unsatisfied and empty at the end of the meal.

However, Restaurant Ember proves to be an exception. Filled to 110% of my bodily capacity, I still found it to be one of my most memorable meals ever.

Despite being situated in what I’d consider to be the most competitive dining environment (the Tanjong Pagar and Outram area) to be found locally, Restaurant Ember still manages to keep up a fully booked reservation list on a day to day basis, which says a lot for an eatery that has already been around for the past 8 years.

At Ember, you can rest assure that there’s no hocus pocus, smoke or pyrotechnics used to impress diners. It’s a place where ambience and service is kept to a respectful minimum, and the the focus is really on the food. I reaffirmed this fact when I received a call confirming my reservation by a staff member who had an uncouth singlish accent, a far cry from the usual dignified “ang mor” accent we are so used to hearing from western eateries.

A warm toasty focaccia kick started our meal.

We were also given a complimentary mocktail each, a promotion for patrons paying with DBS/POSB cards.

3-Course Set Lunches here are priced at $39.50++, though some dish choices (like the foie gras) do require slight additional top-ups.

Pan Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Apples & Clove, Port & Raspberry Glaze (additional $6 supplement). Me, I’m just a sucker for foie gras. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, with the classic light tinge of sour acidity from the malic and ascorbic acid from the apples to help provide some balance for the fatty goose liver. Pity it was slightly overcooked.

Roasted and Poached Foie Gras with Mirin, Shoyu & Shitake (additional $6 supplement). One of my most enjoyable foie gras dishes ever! As opposed to the sweet-sour combi with the previous foie gras dish, this dish was pure savoury goodness.

Marinated Cod with Black Miso, Sweet Peas & Herbed Potatoes. Unlike the previous Miso Cod I had at Greenwood Fish Market, I preferred Ember’s rendition which has a cleaner and lighter taste.

Crispy Duck Leg Confit with new Potatoes, Caramelized Onion & Thyme Jus. Very impressive duck confit they conjured up here, one of the best I have had. The skin is really crisp and somehow devoid of any excess frying oil, the duck meat is moist and supple, and the gravy heavy probably from the duck fat residue but flavourful nonetheless.

Homemade Sticky Date Pudding with Grand Marnier Ice Cream. For the longest time, Sticky Date Pudding has been my favourite dessert but I think I’m starting to tire of it. The Date Pudding here oddly resembles a fruitcake in terms of taste and texture. Personally, I’d prefer it more moist and I think it would have paired better with just a plain old Vanilla Bean Ice Cream instead of the yoghurt tasting Grand Marnier Ice Cream.

Warm Valrhona Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I’m sure this would be a hit amongst dark chocolate lovers. The Vanilla Ice Cream is also to die for.

As you can see, Ember just puts a smile on my face. It just might be is my new favourite restaurant. Bon Appetit!

RESTAURANT EMBER

50 KEONG SAIK ROAD, HOTEL 1929

TEL: +65 6347 1928

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