As you may already know, chef Sebastian Ng from Restaurant Ember has decided to call it a day, after 12 long years at the helm of this popular restaurant at Hotel 1929 located at Keong Saik Road. Hence, it was opportune that I revisit the restaurant before the head chef leaves, just to again have the chance to sample his wonderful dishes that have been perfected over the many years of experience.
To start off, my dining companion and I had an E Guigal Gigondas 2010 - which had a nose of black pepper and spice, and tasting of wood spice, a hint of liqourice, and dark fruits with a slight rustic funk and a savoury flavour. Very enjoyable and another good bottle from E Guigal, one of the kings of the Northern Rhone. (7.5/10)
I went for the 4-course set dinner where I was allowed to choose 2 starters, 1 main and 1 dessert from the ala carte menu.
First up - I had the angel hair pasta with sakura ebi and lobster oil, and boy was this delicious and perfectly executed, the oil coating the pasta perfectly and providing great umami flavours with a slight chilli spice, and the sakura ebi being flavourful and salted just right. (8.25/10)
For the second dish, my dining companion had the Foie Gras with Poached Egg, Truffle Salt and Parma Ham Chips, which is one of my favourite things on the menu. I decided to try something different and ordered the Foie Gras with Mirin and Shoyu with Shitake, and this was no less delicious: the foie gras was melt-in-your-mouth tender with good sear, and flavourful, combining well with the mirin and shoyu glaze which was pure savoury and umami heaven, no sweetness required but the slightest touch of the mirin perhaps. The combination worked wonders especially with the shitake. (8.75/10)
For the mains, you can't go wrong with Sebastian's Chilean seabass with yuzu butter sauce and mushroom ragout - which is one of Ember's signature dishes and we ordered it for posterity's sake. Again perfectly done: flaky, meaty seabass soaking up the yuzu butter sauce and I only wished that there were more of the sauce. But I guess the highlight must have been the foie gras and after that - the seabass seemed a little more muted in comparison. Still an excellent dish, and well worth a (8.5/10).
For desserts, I had a warm banana tart - which wasn't too sweet, just the way I like it. Good but nothing to shout about. (7/10)
The night I went, I spied Hotel 1929 owner Loh Lik Peng and wife Min at a corner table - I guess they must also enjoy Chef Sebastian's cooking loads.
Anyway, Ember has been a restaurant that serves dependable classics; it may not be the most innovative and certainly I think he may want to think of reinventing some new dishes, but these classics are extremely well conceptualised and done very well. Cheers.