Singapore: Ember

4 Apr

Ember at the ground floor of Hotel 1929, Keong Saik Road needs no introduction. If you haven’t already heard of it, you must be living under a food rock. It consistently serves one of the best set lunches in Singapore IMO, with abundant options per course for you to choose from. At $39.50++ per 3 course set inclusive of tea/coffee, I think it’s great value given the quality and that a dinner here would a lot more. Even though I’ve eaten here quite a few times, I always see myself going back to the same few dishes as I can’t get enough of them – if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right?

Quirky barbershop chair at hotel lobby

Their homemade sundried tomato cheese foccacia bread is always served piping hot. It is wonderfully aromatic and is extremely fluffy on the inside. They even generously serve you additional servings of it but don’t be too greedy and spoil your appetite :)

The use of parma ham in the Pan Roasted Scallop with Parma Ham, Citrus and Tarragon Vinaigrette gives the mild scallops more depth in flavour. The accompanying tangy salad cuts through the saltiness of the ham. A light appetiser.

I like foie gras in small doses, and the Pan Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Apples and Clove, Port and Raspberry Glaze (+$6) is always so well done – crisp on the sides and smooth on the inside. The fruity notes of the caramelised apples and raisins, and the sprinkle of sea salt also makes the rich foie gras much more digestible.

My de-facto main is always the Pan Seared Chilean Seabass with Mushroom & Smoked Bacon Ragout, Truffle Yuzu Butter Sauce. This is hands down one of my favourite fish dishes ever. The seabass is always so perfectly cooked that you get fork tender consistency on the inside, with a crispy golden brown crust on the top. Even the the accompanying ragout and the truffle yuzu butter sauce (what a winning combi!) are stars in their own rights. It may sound like a lot of flavours on one plate, but somehow it all works.

The Crispy Duck Leg Confit with New Potatoes, Caramelised Onion and Thyme Jus had a layer of crispy skin that encased meat that fell off the bone. It’s good for duck confit but I guess it’s a dish now common on many restaurant menus, so this doesn’t stand out as much for me. I also liked the duck confits I had at Pamplemousse and Skyve and somehow those seemed to have more of a “wow” factor for me when I had them.

The 12 Hour Cooked Pork Belly with Savoy Cabbage, Apple Puree and Spiced Calvados Sauce was also another good main dish as the crackling was very crispy, and the meat moist and tender. I’m not that into the gimmicky presentation of the puree (served in the core of a caramelised apple slice) and Calvados sauce (served in a test tube) but some may be tickled by it.

They used to have this amazing dessert – a Banana Tart with Homemade Lavender Ice Cream but that has now been replaced by the almost-as-delicious Crispy Caramelized Pear Tart with Homemade Baileys Ice Cream. I love the texture of their tarts as they are so incredibly buttery, flakey, light, and topped with a slightly crisp crumble. Both the pear and Baileys have light flavours that go well together, but i still miss that rather unexpected yet delicious banana and lavender pairing.

The Crispy Cinnamon Apple Pie with Homemade Rum and Raisin Ice Cream didn’t look like the apple pie that we are familiar with, but was extremely delicious especially when eaten piping hot. Texture wise it seemed similar to the pear tart, but the pairing of the apple and rum & raisin flavours was just to die for! I normally run away from rum and raisin ice cream but theirs had me wishing for more.

The Warm Valrhona Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream also did not disappoint, and was a thin layer of cake with a very large and liquid molten chocolate centre. They also use good quality bittersweet chocolate that doesn’t make it overly cloying. Simple and well executed.

I’ve also tried the field mushroom soup and steak under the set lunch (no pictures) and those were great choices too. In short, a meal at Ember would not disappoint, as long as you don’t mind the cramp dining room and non-nonsense service. Make reservations ahead and come promptly if you have a late lunch booking as they are very sticky about closing lunch service on time. Definitely one of my favourite lunch places in Singapore if I’m looking for more than a little pampering :)

Prices: $$-$$$ (~$50 per pax for lunch)
Location: Hotel 1929, 50 Keong Saik Road
Tel: +65 63471928
Website: http://www.hotel1929.com/

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