Amber’s modern style decor and trendy bar is a contrast from the stream of customary diners and bars along 3rd avenue, making this restaurant seem like the East 20’s best kept secret.
The second level boasts the Asian restaurants ability to stand out from other establishments with a more intimate and mellow setting provided by the brick walls, dim red lights, and cushioned chairs. However, as Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold” blasted through the speakers, I was left with a “hot and cold” feeling as my dining experience slowly began.
Several minutes after being seated and wondering where our waiter/waitress was, she finally arrived. Asking for our drinks and orders was the only time she spoke to us the entire evening.
Unlike the unfriendly and aloof service, the appetizers and entrees did not disappoint.
Ordering Veggie Mini Rolls ($6) as an appetizer, the steamed carrots and spinach leaves inside tasted fresh and seemed healthy as I was able to distinguish the vegetables from its lightly fried exterior. The sweet chili dipping sauce on the side had a sweet and sour sauce appearance and taste with a hint of spice, acting as the perfect accommodation.
The sushi added to the delectable quality of Amber as well. The Salmon Avocado Roll ($5.50) and Shrimp Tempura Roll ($7) each had an unique and tangy flavor to them. With ripe avocado, firm rice, and the fish tasting as if it was caught and cleaned that morning, my fears of eating contaminated sushi were thankfully put to rest.
The originality of these two dishes were seen throughout the entire menu in dishes such as, Tropical Mango Chicken ($17), Spicy Sautéed Sweet Peanut Sauce ($17), and my final choice of the evening, the Pineapple Fried Rice ($11). Served in an actual pineapple (I appreciated the literal touch), the rice was spicy yet sweet as chunks of pineapples evened the flavor. Inside were cashew nuts, chicken, and pineapple-flavored raisins, which tasted as juicy and fruity as the actual pineapples. Once a spoon full, or should I say chopstick full, enters your mouth, so does bursts of fruity, spicy, and sweet flavors.
Unfortunately, the hot streak ended there. Because our waitress forgot our soup and salads, we didn’t receive them until after the main course, when we were completely full.
It seems almost impossible to mess up soup and salad, especially after these unique dishes, right? Well Amber knows how to make the impossible possible.
Known for its salty flavor, the Miso soup ($2.50) was bland and altogether tasteless. The salad, which looked like a plate of leaves with clumpy orange juice on top, was insipid as well; leaving me to believe this error from the waitress was a blessing in disguise.
All in all, Amber was a bittersweet experience. The restaurant has delectable main courses, generous portions accommodating the price, and a pleasant decor. Unfortunately, the indifferent staff and overly loud music, which ranged from 1920’s jazz to obnoxious Z100 pop, lead me to unfortunately quote Katy Perry as I sat in my comfortable seat, unable to hear my friend over the loud music , “You don’t really want to stay, but you don’t really want to go.”