First of all, Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2011 has been a great year for you as it has been for me and let’s pray that 2012 brings lots of joy, laughter and peace into everyone’s lives 😀
Anyway just a couple days back, I visited Ember for the third time this year. Visiting the same restaurant twice doesn’t happen often for me, much less 3 times, especially since I have been attempting to cover as much ground as possible with regards to the visitation of different local restaurants.
A reason for this anomaly could be because during our last SMU Gourmet Club event, events director G mentioned she had never been to Ember before and since she was flying off for her Barcelona exchange soon, I thought this would be a good opportunity for her to try it. But I think maybe I was just finding an excuse to come back myself. Ember just has that much an allure.
Nothing much has changed from its set lunch menu since my last 2 visits, apart from the slight price increment that I find highly justified given the popularity and quality of Ember. Currently, their 3-Course set lunches are priced at $42++, which is still a fraction the price of their set dinner (that I believe serves roughly the same items choices).
Having been here before too, CW ordered what she claims is the best foie gras she has eaten – The Roasted & Poached Foie Gras with Mirin, Shoyu & Shiitake (requires a $6++ supplement). I’m guessing the savoury foie gras is poached first to cook the liver properly before being subsequently roasted to attain that firm brown surface with wobbly fatty interior. If this is your first time to Ember, I highly recommend you order this but if you haven’t had foie gras before, perhaps you should try out a few other places first before trying this one or you’d be hard pressed to find somewhere else even remotely comparable.
G doesn’t like foie gras (I know most of you must be going: “Impossibru!”) so she had the Pan Roasted Scallops with Parma Ham, Citrus & Tarragon Vinaigrette instead. It’s definitely above average but nothing compared to the really fresh and utterly orgasmic ones I had with CW at Cornwall, England, last June during our short road trip. I still think of them sometimes, after all I would not be exaggerating much saying they made me open my mouth, salivate and gurgle “mmmm” the way Homer Simpson does when he thinks of donuts.
Ember does their Field Mushroom Soup (avail in their set lunch menu) well but you know what’s even better than that? Field Mushroom Soup with Poached Egg and Foie Gras (a special appetizer for today’s lunch menu, requires supplement of $6++). The mushrooms are blended finely, leaving the texture of the soup velvety smooth yet not watered down. In fact, the flavours are rather intense, so it might have gone well if a piece of brioche was included on the side. And the few drops of white truffle oil does well to add an earthly aroma that stimulates the olfactory senses and whets the appetite for the upcoming mains. Few bite-sized pieces of foie gras can be found in the soup but possessed a slightly gamey flavour.
The list of appetizers available here are really extensive, leaving one spoilt for choice even for subsequent visits. So just to give you an idea of what other choices are available apart from those mentioned, I will list them down here too:
1) Pan Seared Foie Gras with Fresh Orange Segments, Orange and Passionfruit Reduction (supplement of $6++)
2) Pan Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Apples and Cloves, Port & Raspberry Glaze (supplement of $6++)
3) Chicken and Duck Liver Parfait, Brioche and Late Harvest Muscat Jelly
4) Cold Tofu Salad with Avacado, Tomato and Sesame Dressing
5) Shaved Parma Ham with Fresh Figs & Rocket Salad
6) Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab with Sweet Wasabi Aioli
7) Field Mushroom Soup with White Truffle Oil
8) Homemade Crispy Tofu with Foie Gras Mirin Sauce & White Truffle Oil (I have read some good things about this on other blogs, think I might just try this the next time around)
For Mains, CW stuck to the safe choice of Pan Seared Chilean Seabass with Mushroom and Smoked Bacon Ragout, with Truffle Yuzu Butter Sauce. To our surprise, it came out uncharacteristically overcooked and tough. The mushroom and bacon ragout didn’t find favour with her either though to me it’s still pretty tasty as I’m a hardcore mushroom fan. Even my hair grows out into a mushroom shape if I refrain from having my monthly haircut.
G settled for the Pan Roasted USDA Prime Beef Tenderloin with French Fries & Merlot Reduction. If you have had the deep fried golden mushrooms at some Taiwanese Street Snack stalls (abundant in Singapore), you might find some semblance with the fried golden mushrooms topping the steak. I’m thinking it’s roughly similar though the ones here are less fried so they come across as half crunchy (from the mushroom texture) and half crispy(from deep frying). The Steak was well executed as well, surprisingly tender and flavourful for a restaurant not specializing in steak.
I saw quite a few patrons ordering this during my previous visits so I reasoned that it must be good – the 12 Hour Cooked Pork Belly with Savoy Cabbage, Apple Puree & Spiced Calvados Sauce. In fact, there are 3 sauces to eat the Roast Pork with, the brown sauce at the top is a sweet asian glaze (tasting similar to the one you would use for peking duck), the middle yellow one is a mild mustard sauce (great for cleansing the palate if the pork belly gets too oleaginous) and lastly the savoury brown sauce in the test tube which I believe could be the Spiced Calvados Sauce (my favourite of the 3 and tastes a bit like a thicker and more robust hawker duck sauce) (Calvados is a type of Apple Brandy). There’s really nothing more I can ask for from a Roasted Pork Belly, a tender layer of meat meeting a thick layer of crackling skin, broken easily with a light prodding of a fork. No wonder its popular.
While the Crispy Caramelized Pear Tart with Homemade Bailey’s Ice Cream (upper pic) is pretty good, we all preferred the Crispy Cinnamon “Apple Pie” with Homemade Rum & Raisin Ice Cream (bottom pic) because it’s sweeter and less tart, pardon the pun.
But if you prefer something cold and a little more creative, the Frozen Nougat with Seasonal Berries and Lychee Sorbet is the way to go. Unlike normal nougats which are irritatingly uber chewy, the frozen nougat is very much a dense ice cream chocked with nuts. And the Lychee Sorbet is indeed a refreshing way to end off a meal.
Set Meals come with a choice of coffee/tea, but since CW didn’t want either, the staff told me I could upgrade my “normal” coffee to a cappuccino, which I did. 赚到!
Food aside, one other thing I really like about Ember is the service staff. They are really attentive, versed in fine dining etiquette (meaning they will really arrive to clear your plate if you decide to pair your cutlery together in the same direction as we discovered today) and are very friendly, often striking up casual conversation. Most importantly, they are not annoyingly pretentious.
50 Keong Saik Road, Hotel 1929
Tel: +65 6347 1928