We managed to snag L.A. Lunch reservations at Restaurant Ember before Chef de cuisine Sebastian hands the reins to this wildly successful modern European fusion restaurant over to new blood next month. It's truly the end of an era, but the end (of Ember) isn't nigh, so no need to wail and flail. The new chef boasts fairly impressive pedigree, he's helmed the kitchen of the lauded Iggy's and perfected his craft at Waku Ghin and L'entrepot Bistro, so while I'll miss Chef Sebastian's midas-touch at Ember, I'm pretty excited to see the new direction, if any, Ember will take.
Because we were a group of 25, we placed our Set Lunch ($42++ per person for a satisfying-but-not-food-coma-inducing 3-course meal) orders a week in advance to facilitate the smooth and timely churning out of food. This resulted in service that was efficient and swift, such that we managed return to the office in very good time. My gratitude and thanks go out to the staff at Ember!
Food-wise, it was telling that there were zero complaints from my compatriots. Even the nit-picky ones had nothing but praise for the lunch here. I suppose, that's to be expected. Ember's success has largely been supported by the twin pillars of consistency and attention to detail.
Ember's foie gras are quite legendary, and you'd do well to order them at least once. The Pan-Seared Foie Gras (+$6 supplement) was nicely countered with crisp-fried orange segments, and a zesty orange and passionfruit reduction.
The Japanese-inspired Roasted & Poached Foie Gras (+$6 supplement) was tempered with mirin and shoyu, served atop a bed of succulent sauteed shitake.
A vegetarian appetizer option, the Homemade Crispy Tofu with Mushrooms was sweetened by a tangy tomato chutney and sided by shimeiji tempura and a mesclun salad.
The other vegetarian starter option, a refreshingly light Cold Tofu Salad was loaded with avocado, cherry tomatoes and slathered with a savoury sesame dressing.
My all-time favourite starter here, Pan Roasted Scallops, plump and fat, and lovingly swaddled with parma ham didn't disappoint. Mesclun dressed with citrus and tarragon vinaigrette, and a few orange wedges served as as accompaniments.
The 12-Hour Pork Belly is a popular main course here. This possessed the perfect fat-to-meat ratio, with a beautiful crackling skin and melty meaty texture. A bacon-flavoured stewed savoy cabbage was a pretty damn good way of getting the folks to eat their veggies, while apple puree was smeared for posterity. I found the plating of the spiced calvados sauce in the test tube particularly kitschy.
The only vegetarian option for the mains, Angel Hair Pasta with Mushroom, Broccoli, and Chilli, was just about the only main that was a let-down. We found it a tad dry; it would have been more well-received if it was more saucey.
My favourite main course here, and my personal recommendation to all first-timers here, the perfectly cooked, ultra fleshy Pan-Seared Chilean Seabass (+$3 supplement) with an addictively delicious mushroom and smoked bacon ragout and aromatic truffle yuzu butter sauce was just pure ecstasy on a plate. More than half my colleagues ordered this, and they ALL loved it.
The Marinated Cod with Black Miso is another signature here, and if you're the type to prefer oily cod over seabass, then swim right up! Crunchy sugar snap peas and roasted herbed potatoes rode alongside.
For dessert, I had the Assorted French Farm Cheeses. We particularly took to the marmalade and practically licked off the cheese board.
By far their most popular dessert, the Warm Varlhona Chocolate Fondant with vanilla bean ice-cream was just heavenly, and oozing with dark molten cocoa goodness.
The dessert of the day, a super moist Tiramisu was served in a mason jar that the kleptomaniac in me wanted to take home. For the record, I didn't.
A shout-out must be given to Ember's awesome Herbed Bread, complimentary of course. This was always served fresh out of the oven and piping hot, with a crusty exterior and a soft fragrant fluffy interior.
50 Keong Siak Road
Tel: 6347 1928
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am to 2pm for lunch
Mondays to Saturdays from 6.30pm to 10pm for dinner
Closed on Sundays