Restaurant Ember Tasting Session

Restaurant Ember Tasting Session
50 Keong Saik Road

Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 2pm, 6:30pm - 10pm
Sat: 6:30pm - 10pm
Closed Sun

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session, but I did pay the standard price during subsequent visits.
Attended with representatives from HungryGoWhere, Purple Taste, The Arctic Star, and The Hungry Bunny.

Exquisite Modern Fusion Fine Dining, Intimate Setting

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 8
Ambience & Setting: 9
Food & Beverage: 8
Service: 9
Value for Money: 7
Budget about SGD $90 ++ per person.


Among the earliest restaurants to open in Keong Saik Road, in 2002, long before the place became packed with hip cafes, Restaurant Ember in Hotel 1929 paved the way for the area by offering ground breaking, innovative, beautifully plated yet tasty modern Italian and French food, along with an unforgettable dining experience. When Head Chef Sebastian Ng moved on in May 2014, Chef Sufian Bin Zain, formerly of Iggy’s and Waku Ghin, took over the helm.

Hotel 1929

Hotel 1929

Ambience at Restaurant Ember remains as intimate as ever. The rather small floor space is laid out smartly, with colours of navy blue against white, and low ambient lighting creating a soft, warm mood. Elegant, sophisticated touches of decor, including nostalgic / retro, and nautical themes adorn the walls. Elaborate table settings of shiny silverware, a hallmark of fine dining, create expectations of a gastronomic experience.

Restaurant Ember Signage

Restaurant Ember Seating

Service at Restaurant Ember is professional, courteous, and efficient, as befits a fine dining establishment. Staff offer greetings / goodbyes, are prompt in seating diners, as well as clearing away empty / dirty plates from your table. They are knowledgable on the menu and dishes, able to provide insight into dishes, as well as proactively make recommendations. Staff also proactively ask for feedback on the dining experience, as well as come around regularly to top up water glasses.

Retro Barber Chair

Food at Restaurant Ember is modern European, blending the finest elements of French and Italian cuisine, elevated to an art form. Flavours are kept simple and clean, allowing the ingredients to shine. Chef Sufian Bin Zain has worked hard to distinguish himself and carve out a profile all his own, distancing himself somewhat from his more famous predecesscor. Dishes are generally very tasty, though some components in each dish miss the mark, but are all beautifully plated. Portions are of a decent size, and while each dish works well in taste and texture on its own, a complete course works together like a harmonious symphony. Prices at Restaurant Ember befits its fine dining status as well, budget at least SGD $90 per person, or more, for a meal here.

Sleep Is Death

The complimentary Focaccia Bread is incredibly fragrant with the scent of herbs and wheat. Soft and fluffy in texture, it tears apart easily, and is good enough to be eaten on its own, even without any butter!

Focaccia Bread

The Flan Of Spanner Crab, Asparagus, Tobiko & Aonori (SGD $18) is a playful plate, colouful in texture, bursting with flavour on the palate. The soft, stew-like flan has good eggy, and crustacean taste, the slices of asparagus are fresh and lend crunch, while the tobiko (flying fish roe) and aonori (seaweed) lend a briny, ocean taste. Imagine a premium, upgraded version of a Japanese chawanmushi... this was exactly like that. Decent, tasty appetizer!

Flan Of Spanner Crab, Asparagus, Tobiko & Aonori

The Mushroom Consomme, Shimeji, Chicken & Foie Gras Tortellini (SGD $16) was a soup I enjoyed. The earthy, almost herbal, dark soup / broth is strong with the essence of mushrooms, and the small shimeji mushroom heads dotting the dish complements it well. The chicken and foie gras tortellini were excellent, savoury with a fatty melt-in-your-mouth texture, delightful. Great starter, wanted more of it. Highly recommended!

Mushroom Consomme, Shimeji, Chicken & Foie Gras Tortellini

Chef takes on a classic French fish bouillabaisse with his rendition of Bouillabaisse Soup, Scampi, Clams, Hokkaido Scallops, Seabass & Aioli (SGD $32). Loved the large, fresh portions of seafood, coked simply to showcase their natural flavour, including Hokkaido scallops, seabass fish fillet, Manila clams, and a langoustine! Garnished liberally with sauteed onions and chives, which lent a floral taste. However, I did feel the creamy soup / broth / gravy, which is poured over the dish tableside, was leaning more towards sweet, rather than savoury, in taste. The sweetness sort of threw me off the overall taste of this dish, clashing with the fresh, savoury taste of the seafood. Personally, I wouldn't order this again.

Bouillabaisse Soup, Scampi, Clams, Hokkaido Scallops, Seabass & Aioli

The Pan Roasted Barramundi, Vine Ripped Cherry Tomatoes, Fine Beans & Clam Jus (SGD $28) had a broth / soup / gravy that was way too milky and sour, ruining this dish for me and my fellow diners. That aside, the ingredients were beautiful, with tasty Manila clams, juicy vine ripened tomatoes, and fine beans. The star was the thick fillet slab of barramundi, the flesh was firm but flaked off nicely, and the skin was beautifully crisp and savoury, with a tinge of salty. The large dollop of black caviar was the briny icing on the dish, a real pity about that unpleasant broth though. If chef could sort this out, the dish would be excellent!

Pan Roasted Barramundi, Vine Ripped Cherry Tomatoes, Fine Beans & Clam Jus

The ladies at the table declared the Black Cod, Bell Peppers, Potato Puree & Thyme Jus (SGD $42 as a 3-Course Set Lunch) to be their favourite dish of the evening. Currently only offered during lunch as part of a set menu, it's not available on the ala-carte menu. The thick fillet of black cod is cooked perfectly, with buttery smooth flesh... like eating silk. Beautiful caramelisation, you can see the enticing char on the fish! It sits on a bed of soft caramelised bell peppers / capsicum of red, green and yellow hues, with a creamy smooth potato puree underneath. An aromatic thyme jus round out this wonderful dish. Highly recommended!

Black Cod, Bell Peppers, Potato Puree & Thyme Jus

My favourite dish of the evening was the Duo Of Duck, Braised Red Cabbage, Carrot Puree & 5-Spice Jus (SGD $32). More accurately, only some components of this dish stood out, but I still loved it. Featuring duck cooked 2 ways, the weaker rendition was the pan-seared duck breast, which had a strong gamey flavour, despite being quite succulent. The duck confit stuffed in filo pastry, on the other hand, was excellent, with tender, savoury, juicy, shredded duck meat, and a crisp filo pastry that cracks satisfiyingly. This dish also had the best side dish components, with tasty braised red cabbage, a sweet and creamy carrot puree that reminded me of sweet potato, and a savoury 5-spice jus. I would give top marks for this dish, except I know a gamey taste may not appeal to some.

Duo Of Duck, Braised Red Cabbage, Carrot Puree & 5-Spice Jus

The Pan-Seared Welsh Lamb Rack, Ratatouille, Cous Cous, Thyme Jus (SGD $45) was very good, though again with a gamey taste. The vegetable ratatouille was executed well, you still get some crunch, with some softness, yet the vegetables still hold flavour without being limp. The fluffy cous cous works well with the tender, succulent lamb, which succumbs easily to the knife. Nice moist texure in the meat as well. The flavourful thyme jus still wasn't enough to mask the gamey lamb taste though. However, I would still recommend this dish!

Pan-Seared Welsh Lamb Rack, Ratatouille, Cous Cous, Thyme Jus

The Deconstructed Fig Cheesecake, Crumble & Tahiti Vanilla Ice Cream (SGD $12) is fun and tasty, and overall decent as a dessert. You can pick and choose how to experience this dish, be it the tart, sweet fig jam / paste / compote, the biscuit-like crumble, the colourful edible flowers, the smooth cream cheese, or the floral Tahiti vanilla ice cream. Each mouthful is different! Personally, I fail to see how this is a deconstructed cheesecake, it seems more like a deconstructed apple pie to me. A decent dessert.

Deconstructed Fig Cheesecake, Crumble & Tahiti Vanilla Ice Cream

I would order the Valrhona Chocolate Brownie, Banana & Peanut Butter Parfait (SGD $18) again, and so would my fellow diners. The best dessert we had this evening, the rich, deep chocolate flavour of the moist brownie works wonderfully with the nutty, creamy peanut butter parfait, sweet caramelised bananas, crunchy walnuts and cookie crumble. The scoop of ice cream topped off an excellent dessert. Highly recommended!

Valrhona Chocolate Brownie, Banana & Peanut Butter Parfait

I liked the Texture Of Pistachio, Sponge, Crumble, Ice-Cream & Ginger Milk Foam (SGD $15), the most modern gastronomy creation of all the dishes / desserts. A fluffy pistachio sponge texture, on a base of biscuit crumble, with edible flower petals, a dollop of ice cream, and a fragrant, sharp ginger milk foam. Eat everything together for best results and flavour, as separately, each component is only decent at best. Novel idea, unique experience. I would order this again!

Texture Of Pistachio, Sponge, Crumble, Ice-Cream & Ginger Milk Foam

The Vanilla Panna Cotta, Mango, Coconut Sorbet (SGD $16) features a rather milky panna cotta, perhaps a little too thin in texture, an issue with setting of the custard. But the flavour of the vanilla comes through, the fresh mango cubes lend sweetness, and the interesting coconut sorbet was delicious. But this was really let down by the almost watery panna cotta. Sadly, I say avoid this.

Vanilla Panna Cotta, Mango, Coconut Sorbet

The Champagne Jelly, Macerated Strawberries & Yoghurt Sorbet (SGD $16) has a wonderfully unique champagne jelly, which is floral and sweet in flavour, you can clearly taste the champagne in this! The overall experience was let down by the too sour macerated strawberries, and the rather forgettable yoghurt sorbet. Barely even edible.

Champagne Jelly, Macerated Strawberries & Yoghurt Sorbet

Overall, Restaurant Ember remains a great place for fine dining, with cozy, intimate ambience, professional service, and modern European food that has more hits than misses. Still, if they could rectify the 1 or 2 problematic components in each dish, Restaurant Ember could possibly be near flawless, offering a unique, memorable gastronomic experience. I struggled writing this review, because I desperately want to like the food prepared by the young, passionate, sincere Chef Sufian Bin Zain whom we met, but the glaring single flaw in many of the dishes are too obvious, especially for paying diners who expect to get top dollar's value / worth in their meal.