Recently, I received an invite to Ember’s media night, at which the venue highlighted some of its menu items. I must admit, I’m always thrilled to get the invite from Kerry Andersen, as I have never been disappointed with the food selections.
We started off the evening with some refreshments prepared for us by Kelly Bistok, Ember’s “Creator of Cocktails.” Anyone who knows me knows I’m a beer man and the only mixed drink I ever drink is a margarita. But Kelly had prepared a drink called the Hunting Ground for all of us; I was blown away by how good it tasted, and I must admit I had two. The drink was promoting Bayou Rum’s Silver Rum. And after Kelly was finished with it, it was the BOMB.com.
We headed to the private room for our dinner, which was prepared by chef Brock and his staff. Brock received his training at Sowela’s culinary program.
We started with a seafood medley that consisted of boiled shrimp, king crab, lobster, oysters and clams. There was also some tuna and avocado with some fried wontons. It was perfect. I don’t even enjoy clams; I never know what to expect when I try them. But they were actually pretty good; I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Next was fried green tomatoes. I’ve never had them and felt that I wanted more. But these were cooked to the right temp; they were not so soft as to be mushy but also not so hard that they seemed raw (which is usually what I’ve gotten). The texture has really turned me off to the dish; but this one made me realize that I just hadn’t gotten the right chef to make it.
I ate more items than I can talk about. Once you jump into the dishes, you sometimes miss out on some of the info the Ember representatives provide because you’re consumed with eating all this magic. So, I’m going to discuss a couple more of my favorites before I finish.
The Ahi Tuna absolutely melted in my mouth. I always can tell the quality of the tuna by whether I use the sauces on the plate. With this one, I was only interested in the tuna because it was the highlight of the dish all by its self.
I’m not a huge fan of scallops. But again, Brock made me realize there are more people doing it wrong than right. I loved these scallops more than I thought I should.
My two favorite dishes were the Tomahawk Ribeye and the Braised Pork Belly. The ribeye needs no explanation other than to say they know what they’re doing with this cut. The young man slicing it did such a great job with his presentation that I enjoyed that part almost as much as the food.
Now, the pork belly was my five-star choice of the evening, because the meat was crispy and tender at the same time, and the flavor was bold. The thing I kept thinking was how great it would be on a sandwich with the bok choy and black garlic soy glaze. I then found out they offer that exact combination on the bar menu.
General manager Nick Sensat has got a wonderful crew and an amazing chef working for him. Add a public relations genius like Kerry Anderson, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better team to promote your business.
Here’s the recipe to Kelly’s special drink:
Bayou Rum Drink “Hunting Ground”
• 1 ½ oz. — Bayou Silver Rum
• ¾ oz. — Simple syrup
• ¾ oz. — Yuzu Juice
• 1 ½ oz. — House Sweet & Sour
• 1 dash — Bittermens Boston Bittahs
• 2 dashes — Fee Bros. Orange
• 1 small bunch pink peppercorns
• Method — Muddle peppercorns and simple syrup in shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients and ice, then shake, and double strain over fresh ice. Garnish with pink peppercorns and hibiscus leaf.
La Pho Bar And Grill
We ordered the Grilled Pork Vermicelli Bowl and the Spicy Hue Soup with an order of Shrimp Spring Rolls to start.
The Spicy Hue has beef brisket, shank meat and Viet ham served with thick rice noodles and a spicy Vietnamese Hue broth. I have no idea what is in a Hue broth, but I can tell you that this soup would be my go-to if I were sick with a cold, because it was just spicy enough to open your nasal cavities right up.
Now, the Vermicelli Bowl was off the hook. The bowl comes with rice noodles, bean sprouts, lettuce, carrots, peanuts, green onions. The secret ingredient that ties it all together is the vinaigrette fish sauce. This is a very light and refreshing dish, and if it’s served at a pho place, I’ll be looking for it. This one didn’t disappoint.
I’m so glad we now have another pho option in Lake Charles. Go check this place out. I promise you you’ll be back.