You, me, and everyone we know, knows that Hell’s Kitchen isn’t a culinary hotspot. But things may change once Ember Room—fronted by Ian Chalermkittichai (of Kittichai fame) and Todd English—opens on February 7. Expect all sorts of Asian-inspired barbecue, custom-created Bombay Sapphire cocktails, and, finally, a restaurant that will put Hell’s Kitchen on the culinary map. We caught up with Chef Ian for the scoop.
Why should New Yorkers look forward to Ember Room? I think because it is a fun concept and will be an enjoyable dining experience. BBQ is a casual favorite amongst diners. A big highlight in the restaurant is our open kitchen, with a specially crafted one-of-a-kind wood-burning lava stone oven, with natural soap stone woks.
What will make it different from the other Asian BBQs in NYC? Well, I think because Ember Room will have different methods of BBQ cooking, especially since we have the unique oven in our open kitchen, which can roast a whole suckling pig. Our Asian flavor influences span Asia and don’t just focus on one region or country. Also, I think the fact that Todd and I worked together to create the menu and concept is pretty unique in NYC!
Who did the design? The venue was envisioned by the internationally acclaimed hospitality designer Roy Nachum, who is known for his cutting edge restaurant designs at Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality, 1Oak, and Mels Burger Bar. The concept is based on the inherent beauty of natural materials with its opulence expressed through contemporary design customs of both Asian and American cultures. The focal point is definitely the open kitchen area, centered around a custom-built Nobile oven fashioned from clay bricks, volcanic rock and natural stone. The “baby hearth” as we call it features seven roasting ovens, two stone woks and a grill.
Any staple dishes you created we should look for? The stone wok fried rice dishes, such as the Korean BBQ Beef fried rice or the Hot & Spicy Chicken Basil Fried Rice. Of course, I have also included my Chocolate Baby Back Ribs on the menu. Also the whole roasted suckling pig which is ginger hoisin glazed is something not to miss.
Why Hell’s Kitchen? The location is a great mix of residential, offices, retail and visitors. Its easy to get to and an up-and-coming food neighborhood. A BBQ restaurant, especially an American Asian BBQ restaurant, is a great fit for the area.
Any noteworthy cocktails? The Ember, which is gin, sparkling sake, muddled berries and some citrus notes, is definitely something special. The Tyku Saketini, which is Tyku Green and vodka based with cucumber, is wonderfully refreshing.