I didn’t do anything I was supposed to do on Chinese New Year Eve: I didn’t wear red, I didn’t eat longevity noodles, and I didn’t wear new clothes ( I did call my mom though.) But I did celebrate it in Asian style by attending the opening of the newest Asian barbeque Todd English (Fig and Olive, Olive’s)/Ian Chalermkittichai (Kittichai) venture, The Ember Room.
Keeping things hot, the focal point of the restaurant is the large, brass open-air oven, proudly emblazoned with “TE” for Todd English. If the Ember Room was a temple and there was a diety to worship, the oven would be that diety, as it’s so sizeable and gleaming in its opulence. Personal friends and family (such as Angelo Sosa of Top Chef fame) and partygoers clustered around the oven the entire night, eagerly awaiting the crowd favorites, like the bamboo roasted miso bbq black cod with sake saboyon, rotisserie ember spiced whole chicken, and pulled berkshire pork sandwich with chili jam aioli and crispy pork crackers.
Keeping the Asian theme modern and polished, the restaurant is also decorated in temple -inspired lavishness, with tables of shiny, burnished wood and walls of emblazoned Chinese characters. Diners sitting in the 140 seat sitting area below can look up at the ceiling, strung with hundreds of Thai gold bells with dangling, shiny clappers, while enjoying the full menu of street-food inspired skewers and robust oven-roasted entrees. The official full menu was released a few weeks ago and my eye was caught by the meatball skewers (thai pastrami spiced, chopped saw tooth coriander, tamarind sauce), whole roasted suckling pig (ginger hoisin bbq glazed, warm water cracked bacon wheat steamed buns, apricot mustard), and the hot and spicy chicken basil fried rice (chopped chicken, smashed chili, garlic, thai basil.) Although there are a few vegetarian-friendly options, the overall menu is meant mostly for carnivores.
The Ember Room is located at 47 Ninth Avenue near 45th Street, 212-245-8880. Check out some more pictures of the food and the venue below: