The Straits Times
Published on Nov 25, 2012

Secrets to Restaurant Ember's steady 10-year-long success


Pork belly is a signature dish at Restaurant Ember, a tiny, 45-seat establishment Sebastian Ng co-owns in the rapidly gentrifying Keong Saik Road.

The meat is simmered for 12 hours, then crisped up under a grill. That meltingly sumptuous meat, along with other of his specials such as slow roasted duck breast and a delicate coconut panna cotta dessert, has helped the 37-year-old chef hit a rare milestone in the food business: A 10th anniversary.

Longevity in the fickle world of high-end food is one thing. What makes the achievement more remarkable is - other than a recent refresh of the decor - it has been done without a change of management, style of cuisine, or chef.

Food critics moan about the 30-minute wait time for a $36 slice of pork belly. If he can get what he calls the "wow factor" using old, slow methods, he says that he will stick by them. "For flavour, for everything, the classic ways still work," he says.