Mak­ing Fit­tie Sense

Where eat­ing well is just de­li­cious logic, and al­most too easy.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By SUZANNE LAZAROO star2@thes­

IT has long been whis­pered that the se­cret to eat­ing well is no se­cret at all – it is sim­ply to en­sure that food that is good for you is also good to eat, as ap­petis­ing as it is nutri­tious.

That’s the sim­ple ethos un­der­ly­ing Fit­tie Sense, a ca­sual eat­ing spot in Bangsar’s Telawi area, where “good food” has mul­ti­ple mean­ings. The space it­self is a multi-tasker too, be­ing pur­pose­fully cus­tomis­able to host early morn­ing yoga classes or well­ness work­shops – both in the works. In July and Au­gust, Ivy Ong from The Good Ke­fir in Mel­bourne will be con­duct­ing fer­men­ta­tion work­shops.

A word on ori­gins: the peo­ple be­hind Fit­tie Sense are both food­ies and fit­ness en­thu­si­asts, and two of the three have been on the F&B scene for some time now. Vic­tor Yap is the part­ner in charge of day-to-day op­er­a­tions, and if his name seems fa­mil­iar, it might be be­cause he is also one-third of the team be­hind the whole­some, home-cooked sen­si­bil­i­ties of Tray Cafe in Plaza Da­mas.

Part­ner Lim Su Mei is the wo­man be­hind the fer­men­ta­tion bar, or the Gut Bar as it’s eye-catch­ingly la­belled; she has also been in­volved in help­ing to run her fam­ily’s Ja­panese restau­rant for some years now.

“Pro­bi­otic health is very im­por­tant and hav­ing freshly-fer­mented drinks like our milk and wa­ter ke­firs is a lot bet­ter than tak­ing tablets,” said Yap.

In ad­di­tion to the Fair­trade or­ganic cof­fee from the espresso bar and a range of teas, the ke­fir so­das (made with wa­ter ke­fir) and ke­fir smooth­ies (made with milk ke­fir) are great thirst-quenchers, just lightly fizzy and with a hint of tang. And the Sig­na­ture “Kof­fir” (RM17) is of par­tic­u­lar in­trigue: a dou­ble espresso with wa­ter ke­fir, this has no dairy but does have a round­ness that black cof­fee lacks.

“Sports and keep­ing fit have al­ways been a big part of my life, and so while I love food, it also came quite nat­u­rally to think about nutri­tion and be aware of what I eat,” said Yap.

“We just wanted to open a place where it would be pos­si­ble to eat healthy, without it be­ing a chore ... al­though we tend not to say ‘healthy’ too much, be­cause peo­ple get spooked!”

For Yap, for­mu­lat­ing a menu for eat­ing well meant al­ways keep­ing nutri­tion in the fore­front, but ap­proach­ing it as a cook would. Nu­tri­tion­ist friends then looked through to ad­vise the part­ners.

You’ll find lots of fresh, un­pro­cessed pro­duce tak­ing cen­trestage at Fit­tie Sense. Buck­wheat and lentils find their way into pan­cakes, sweet potato fries are air-fried and served with a yo­ghurt-lime dip­ping sauce, and zuc­chini is turned into crunchy noo­dles. Fish and meat are steamed, grilled, poached or pan-seared, and sal­ads are lit­er­ally burst­ing with colour and flavour (they don’t stint on por­tions, ei­ther). Bread is made without wheat, and Nice Cream is a frozen dessert without dairy – ba­si­cally, if you have spe­cific food con­cerns, the odds are in your favour at Fit­tie Sense.

High nutri­tion su­per­foods are sneaked into quite a few dishes, like the ground black rice ow­der sprin­kled over the quinoa, buck­salad. wheat and shi­itake “We don’t cook the black rice be­cause that would de­stroy its an­tiox­i­dants, so we just grind it down into a powYap. der,” said Break­fast/brunch op­tions are avail­able un­til 12pm, while the rest of the day is de­voted to small plates, sal­ads, fish, chicken and grass-fed beef or lamb op­tions. The two-let­ter codes listed un­der each menu item will help you fig­ure out if it’s gluten-free, ve­gan or vege­tar­ian, low carb, keto friendly,etc. There­are­also quite a few daily spe­like cials, the O-Chia(RM55), Zuke a bowl of multi-grain rice and chia seeds with seaweed, pick­led cu­cum­ber and sesame-crusted salmon, with a teapot of fra­grant ocha be poured over.

We tried the gram dal lentil pan­cakes with ber­ries and ke­fir curd (RM24). The tangy, con­cen­trated berry coulis and slightly sour, fluffy curd were the perfect foil to the pan­cakes’ dis­tinc­tive, slightly savoury flavour. A very like­able dish.

Zoo­dles – zuc­chini noo­dles – pro­vide a fresh crunch with a gar­licky top­ping of mush­rooms and tomato with chilli and ca­pers (RM17).

On a pre­vi­ous visit, the kon­jac noo­dles with a red laksa sauce and a mol­let egg (RM18) were a big hit; the noo­dles are made from the bulbo-tu­ber of the kon­jac plant, springy and sub­stan­tial.

Both th­ese dishes are po­tent re­minders that the por­tions can be a bit de­cep­tive here – they’re re­ally fill­ing, though they might not seem overly big (still, not to the point of over-full­ness).

For a light dish rem­i­nis­cent of tra­di­tional rice con­gee, the poached chicken breast with buck­wheat, bok choy and as­para­gus in broth (RM34) pushes all the right flavour but­tons, but has a slightly chewier tex­ture. It’s served with a fresh, pi­quant sauce of gin­ger and gar­lic with a hint of sesame oil, sans the large amount of oil it usu­ally comes in.

A cake counter boasts less sugar and oil, or gluten-free selections, but you can also choose from the fruit-based Nice Creams (RM8 per scoop). With no added dairy, sugar or any ar­ti­fi­cial flavour­ing, they’re made from a ba­nana base with var­i­ous fruits. The cherry and ca­cao Nice Cream has pure ca­cao nibs stud­ding the icy mix, lend­ing fra­grant, choco­latey bit­ter­ness.

What draws me to Fit­tie Sense is not just the nutri­tion-rich food that ac­tu­ally tastes good, but the fact that it’s such a hub of ideas – a great way to demon­strate that all it takes to eat bet­ter is a lit­tle knowl­edge of pro­duce, some cre­ativ­ity and greater thought and care in the kitchen.

Yap has made eat­ing well a way of life, and would like to share the life­style with every­one.

Poached chicken on buck­wheat con­gee with bok choy and as­para­gus.

The O-Chia-Zuke, Fri­day spe­cial at Fit­tie Sense. Multi­grain rice and chia seeds with seaweed, pick­led cu­cum­ber and fish, to be doused in green tea. — Pho­tos: YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

Zoo­dles – zuc­chini noo­dles – pro­vide a fresh crunch.

The Le­van­tine Salad is di­vided into seg­ments.

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