On a recent Friday night I trekked to Hell’s Kitchen and dined at Ember Room, the fairly new (opened in February), sleek high-concept restaurant from food-world veterans Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai. Theatre-goers, those on first dates and other diners will swoon, not just over the waitresses wearing off the shoulder black shirts, but over the food, too. This is Asian-American BBQ with a twist and in a unique atmosphere: the ceiling is covered with 4,000 gold bells and the open kitchen has an oven made of volcanic ash.
Though the chocolate baby back ribs are the most talked about dish, the red chili glazed sea bass the waitress insisted I order was stellar. That, accompanied by the Korean BBG fried rice, made for a lovely dinner. While you’re perusing the haute Asian menu, sipping one of the sake cocktails and deciding among such appetizers as big slab BBQ pork belly, crispy gingered oyster and Thai pastrami meatballs, be sure to get the sugar snap peas toasted with red pepper flakes: so simple but a perfect snack.
Here, Ian Chalermkittichai shares his thoughts with us.
Haute Living: What is new at The Ember Room since opening in February?
Ian Chalermkittichai: At our restaurant the American Asian BBQ cuisine is quite new and exciting. BBQ is a such a favorite style in America, as well as around the world, and we infuse Asian flavors and spices into our BBQ. Another unique highlight at Ember Room is our custom lava stone oven with built in stone woks in our open kitchen area on the ground floor. The oven really adds another dimension to our dishes and capabilities.
HL: What are some of your favorite dishes at your restaurant?
IC: My signature chocolate baby back ribs, which I do a version of in all of my restaurants all over the world. The red chili-bbq glazed sea bass a favorite dish as well.
HL: Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?
IC: I like to eat at home when my wife cooks for me. I also like to try different restaurants where ever I am.
HL: What’s your ideal meal?
IC: My ideal meal is something easy and simple: salads, grilled meats or fish and a lot of vegetables.
HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
IC: I prefer a more simple restaurant, such as a home-style cooking cuisine in the countryside.
HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?
IC: The West Village. I love the little streets and the greenery and buildings of the neighborhood.
HL: What do you like to do in the city on your days off?
IC: Relax, eat out, play with my dog, see my niece & her family with her first child in Battery Park.
HL: What’s your favorite vacation destination?
IC: Morocco, Australia, pretty much anywhere in Western Europe, Brazil and Peru.
HL: What’s your most memorable meal?
IC: My most memorable meal was a dinner at a restaurant in Barcelona for my wife’s birthday a few years ago.
HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?
IC: Lemon grass, kaffir lime, fresh thai chili, galangal, lime
Ember Room is located at 647 9th Avenue between 45th & 46th Streets; 212.245.8880
Need help finding the perfect New York City restaurant? Or want tips on cooking elegant meals at home? Contact Haute Living dining columnist Tracey Ceurvels via her blog, The Busy Hedonist, or email her with any questions.