“Wallet-Friendly European Bistro in the Heart of Chinatown”
Restaurant Ember, well known for specialising in modern European cuisine with Asian influence in the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown has recently reopened its doors after a short 2-week makeover hiatus.
The menu has undergone a synergic transformation blending old favourites with newer ingredient-focused dishes with Chef Sufian Bin Zain at the helm. Chef Sufian boasts an extensive resume with several well established eateries under his belt – Les Amis, Iggy’s and Waku Ghin.
Returning patrons will still be pleased to know that Chef Sufian has retained old favourites such as Homemade Crispy Tofu with Foie Gras and Mirin Sauce with White Truffle Oil, Crackling Pork Belly with Cabbage Savoy and Caramelized Apple, Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Mushroom and Smoked Backon Ragout with Truffle-Yuzu Butter Sauce, and Coconut Panna Cotta.
The recent revamp has revitalised the décor with a modern and chic feel; emphasizing on the minimalistic, uncomplicated, and honest dishes served.
Burrata Cheese, endive, cherry tomatoes, arugula, pesto ($14). Underneath the thin exterior of burrata was soft creamy curd with a slight hint of sour which blended well with the mild flavours of the pesto sauce. The sweetness from the crunchy cherry tomatoes was a great combination with the slight bitterness from the arugula and endive.
Steam Egg Custard, Mudcrab, Asparagus, Aonori (Set Menu Only). A dish with much Japanese roots; generous chunks of mud crab (very much appreciated), finely sliced asparagus and flavourful nori simmered in dashi stock all assembled into a delicate, smooth textured Chawanmushi.
This combination of ingredients in this dish blends the simplicity and the beauty in both presentation and flavour synonymous with Japanese cuisine, emphasizing on the characteristic “umami” flavour. I felt the asparagus taste was a bit of a clash with the sweetness of the egg custard though.
Bouillabaisse soup, scampi, clams, Hokkaido scallops, sea bass, aioli ($32). Bouillabaisses tend to be heavy, hearty, soupy stews with a generous medley of seafood but this dish breaks the ranks from tradition; the stew is rich and flavourful yet surprisingly light and refreshing (the baby boomer generation might find this leaning towards slightly salty).
The simplicity of this dish certainly allows the freshness of the ingredients to shine. The delicate seafood items were all cooked adequately without overdoing it.
Pan-roasted Barramundi, tomatoes, fine beans, avruga caviar, clam jus ($28). The Barramundi was firm and crispy on the outside. Buttery, flaky and mild tasting on the inside.
Despite being a caviar subsitute, the Avruga caviar has similar oceanic characteristics like the endangered stuff, which was a good accompaniment to the dish. The cream sauce was light with a slight sweetness from the clam jus.
Cheesecake, figs, crumble, Tahiti vanilla ice-cream. ($12) A deconstructed cheese cake apple pie was our thought after the first bite. A harmonious blend of the slight sourness from the cheesecake, the crunch from the crumble, and the immensely rich sweetness from the vanilla ice cream unfortunately masked the hint of figs although altogether a splendid dessert.
Texture of pistachio, sponge, crumble, ice-cream, ginger-milk foam ($15). A very unique and surprisingly pleasing fluffiness, the pistachio sponge married with the ginger foam and the milky ice cream was a light and refreshing end to the meal. I preferred sampling each element on its own to really experience the modular delicacy.
House White – Fritz’s Riesling Fritz Hasselbach. A light, refreshing, citrusy white. Dynamic and flexible, it pairs very well with most dishes.
House Red – Tenuta Sette Ponti Chianti Vigna di Pallino . A light bodied, tangy, acidic red, pairs well with the red meats and heavy bouillabaisse on the menu.
Torbreck Wines Barossa Valley Muscat The Bothie. A fresh, approachable and springy dessert wine. Sweet pleasant aromas makes it a good accompaniment with a cheese board.
To sum up, Restaurant Ember retains its former charm with an reinvigorated focus on the ingredients that make up its dishes – indeed, it still delivers top quality modern European cuisine at wallet-friendly prices.
Starting from $39.50++, the set lunch menu is really quite a steal. Several other dishes in the menu seemed worthy to warrant a return visit. Be sure to make a reservation before dropping by for lunch or dinner.
Expected Damage: $50-70/pax (Lunch) $100-120/pax (Dinner)