Thursday, August 25, 2011

Obao [Formerly known as Ember Room]

It was my friend's birthday so I let him decide where to eat. We decided to stay in the Midtown are because we both worked around there and he also had to go back after dinner. So he picked Ember Room which has been on my list of go-to places since it opened up. This Todd English affiliated restaurant opened up to a lot of hoopla in the food news world. Was it hyped up? Not sure. A few friends had gone and said it was good. So I was willing to give it a shot.

The menu was short which is a good thing in my book. If you're going to do food, do a few things really well and you will have me as a fan. I'd rather have that than a huge menu of mediocre food.

Anyway, we decided to order a few small plates to share than to have our own mains. We started with the Manila Clams ($8). They looked and smelled really nice. Unfortunately, that was about it. The flavor was only okay. The texture was mealy and some even had residual sand. Also, there were many clams that didn't open up so they were deemed dead. Just wasted space in the bowl.

The next dish was Japanese Eggplant ($7). The eggplant was soft with a sweet glaze on top. I really liked this. The soft pulp, the miso glaze, sea salt, and cilantro was a very nice combination. Each of the flavors played on each other very well.

The birthday boy really wanted to try the Chocolate Baby Back Ribs ($11). The meat was tender but the hot chocolate glaze was very thick and gloppy. Overall the flavor was very off-putting. I definitely wouldn't order this again.

Lastly, the Shishito Peppers ($6) were roasted with lime, tumeric, and coconut milk. These were pretty nice. Some were spicy while others were sweet. You couldn't really tell which until you bit into it. It was a surprise every single time. I liked it.

Overall Ember Room was pretty disappointing. I didn't enjoy enough of the dishes to want to go back. The decor and service were just fine though. Unless the food kicks it up a few notches, I don't think I would be going back.

OBao (Formerly Ember Room)
647 9th Ave
New York, 10036
(212) 245-8880


  1. seems like everything that is affiliated with Todd English these days is overpriced and overhyped mediocre food. too bad.

  2. Todd English is not the only person involved.. but because he is everyone tears it down... Ian Kittachai is a part of it too, and is actually here from Thailand to work on the menu... you should have said hello to him...

  3. How funny, while reading this I thought about the chocolate short ribs I had at Kittichai.

  4. Oh no, sorry you didn't enjoy! If you do make it back, you should try the pastrami meatballs. They were by far the best dish I tried there.

  5. Hopefully you didn't pay for the Manila Clams if a good deal of them weren't open. That's a serious failure of quality control.


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