Ember Room

647 9th Ave. (Btwn. 45th and 46th streets)

New York, N.Y.

212-245-8880

Hours:

Lunch and Dinner: Monday – Friday 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Brunch, Lunch and Dinner: Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.

Happy NYC Restaurant Week, my fellow New Yorkers!

We’re in week two of one of the most exciting times in NYC (heck, every week in NYC is exciting!). Residents and tourists come near and far into the city for some cheap, yet fancy eats. A prix-fixe lunch is $24.07, and prix-fixe dinner is just $35, according to the official NYC Restaurant Week website. With TONS of restaurants to choose from, how can you pick just one?

I started perusing several menus on the website last week. I knew I would be meeting some of my AJ friends for lunch, and wanted to find a place I knew we would all like. After narrowing and narrowing, eventually down to my two top choices, I chose Ember Room.

Why?

#1) It says on the website the restaurant week deal applies to lunch and dinner.

#2) It’s in Hell’s Kitchen, land of amazing restaurants!

#2) Chocolate covered baby back ribs.

Yes, I said it and you read correctly. Chocolate covered baby back ribs. If you chocoholics out there were just as intrigued as I was, just wait until I show you what these babies looked like.

I booked a table for four through OpenTable (which is an AMAZING resource, by the way, for online reservations in NYC!) the night before, and we were set.

When I arrived from Penn Station last Thursday, I headed straight over to 9th avenue to get my chocolate fix on. I’ll admit, I had to look carefully between 45th and 46th to actually find the restaurant, but once I found the beautiful wooden sign hanging above the large glass window entrance, I was excited about what was to come.

One of my favorite phrases that I live by is “everything happens for a reason.” This phrase rang true last week, as my friends and I found out the restaurant week deal actually wasn’t being used for lunch at Ember Room, which to me, was disappointing, at first. Especially because if you look at the official restaurant week site to book a table, it says the deal is on for lunch in red print.

However, as I said, everything happens for a reason, and you know what? We got an even better deal, in fact a steal, if you ask me!

For $15 we got a two-course lunch. Cha-ching!

For the first course, choose from several appetizers such as the chocolate baby back ribs I spoke of, cold udon salad (sugar snap peas, wakame, sesame vinaigrette), bbq wings and shrimp toast.

For the second course, choose from entrees such as the Ember burger (ground prime sirloin, Parmesean cheese bun), steak sandwich (grilled hanger steak, wok sauteed peppers, onions and rendang bbq sauce), pressed ciabatta sandwich (rotisserie chicken breast, chili cheddar cheese, grilled Japanese eggplant), and for you vegetarians and vegivores out there, the vegetable burger (lentils, summer peas, bean curd aioli, tofu fries, tofu ketchup).

Before I get to the food, I also want to point out that besides the really beautiful atmosphere Ember Room had with its beautiful hanging lights, modern yet classic black chairs and tables with touches of red, Asian-themed paintings and wooden and metal fixtures covering the walls, we had a pleasant surprise while waiting for the food. Myself and my two dear friends heard amazing 80s and 90s music playing overhead. And since we all sing together whenever we’re around each other, we couldn’t help but burst out singing songs such as the YouTube videos below:

We were so entertained, singing and chatting. Our first courses then arrived, and I was excited to try my chocolate-covered-ribs. The presentation was beautiful: I loved the drizzled chocolate-sauce design on the plate:

Now that I look at the picture tonight, the ribs actually look like two mini slices of chocolate cake from afar, don’t you think? The sauce was definitely chocolatey, but wasn’t overly sweet, which was a great balance. It had the taste of cocoa, with a hint of spicy and a hint of tang (my friend and I both agreed it was very similar to Hoisin sauce, one of my favorite sauces!). The ribs were meaty and fell off the bone easily. It wasn’t too messy, but I did end up washing my hands anyway between the two courses. I definitely recommend these to everyone. The ribs have just the right hint of chocolate with a mix of that Asian BBQ sauce spice.

The second course was just as wonderful as the first. I loved the presentation of it as well, coming in a metal tray and the fries coming in a metal cup:

The sandwich was overall good: while the steak was tender, yet a little hard and chewy, it blended well with the sweet peppers and onions and the sweet and tangy sauce on the crunchy baguette, making for a second good balance. The fries were interesting: these were very well done and tasted like zesty, crunchy potato sticks over actually fries. But I actually liked these alot, I loved the different texture over the normal soft innards fries have.

Another great reason to check out Ember Room, besides the great food, atmosphere and amazing lunch deal? Its concept of Asian- meets-American food was created by chefs Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai, and the interior was designed by famous architect Roy Nachum.

For $15 in Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood known for its fabulous restaurants, I would certainly choose this deal over the lunch restaurant week deal and get my Ember on!

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