Former Ember chef Sebastian Ng is back with his own restaurant Venue and fans of his cooking will be glad to find that he is still in good form after a three-year break.
Joining him at Venue is Jonathan Lee, formerly at Artichoke Restaurant, and their menu brings back some old favourites from Ember as well as new creations.
It's a casual restaurant with an open front and an open kitchen, so everything is in plain sight to anyone walking past.
The vibe is bright and breezy.
To order, diners tick what they want on an order form - like in Chinese dim sum and noodle eateries. All dishes are meant for sharing.
Here is a first take review on some of the dishes on offer.
A refreshing start for lunch, with watermelon slices topped with onions and chopped herbs and drizzled with olive oil. Simple, but an interesting match of sweet and savoury flavours.
The crispy lettuce leaves are shrouded in white shavings that look like shredded coconut but are actually shaved parmigiana cheese. The anchovy dressing adds a moreish flavour.
It's amazing how the chef gets the vegetable so crispy outside and soft inside. It tastes good on its own with a mildly spiced batter, but the aioli makes it even better. A must-try.
It doesn't look like there's much scallop, but when you eat the dish, you find the balance of vegetables and shellfish just right.
A nice dish though the tofu is not much different from what you find in Chinese restaurants. The sauce is delicious though, and the sprigs of crispy and refreshing ice lettuce are a nice touch.
Delicious grilled chicken that is well-seasoned and juicy. A few drops of lemon juice brighten up the flavours, but the chicken tastes good without too. Each order is a leg chopped into two pieces. Order enough for everyone to get a piece.
Very good meat grilled to your choice of doneness. Medium rare would be just right. The salsa verde tastes too green for me though and the herbs are rather overpowering. Add sparingly. Or skip it.
Simple dish of grilled pork that works through its good flavour. It was a bit tough the first I eat it but just right the second time.The gremolata works well here.
Again, this is too chewy the first time. The second time, the chef confits it longer to get it softer and it is great. It is not too soft either, and the burnt butter adds a nice smoky flavour.
The seabass is cooked just right, but it's the sauce that really hits the spot. Creamy and full of umami, it makes you want to lick the plate.
My favourite dish. The angel hair pasta still has a bit of bite, a texture that can be achieved only through precise timing. The truffle oil is used very sparingly, just enough for you to get a whiff of it - which is how it should be used. Available for dinner only.
This is served warm. A classic that still works. But it's not as good as the cold pasta, so if you are ordering that, leave this for another meal. Also available for dinner only.
Nice dessert but not really outstanding. The ice cream is lovely, with a distinct rum flavour.
I like the flavour of pear, so this works for me. The ice cream could do with more Baileys though.
VENUE BY SEBASTIAN NG
01-02 Tower 1, Downtown Gallery, 6A Shenton Way. Tel: 6904-9688
Open: 11.30am to 2pm and 5.30 to 9.30pm from Mondays to Saturdays. Closed on Sundays.