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 powder sprinkled over the quinoa, buckwheat and shiitake salad. “We don’t cook the black rice because that would destroy its antioxidants, so we just grind it down into a powder,” said Yap.
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.
There are also quite a few daily specials, like the O-Chia-Zuke (RM55), a bowl of multi-grain rice and chia seeds with seaweed, pickled cucumber and sesame-crusted salmon, with a teapot of fragrant ocha to 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.
23A Jalan Telawi 3
Tel: 03-2858 4023
Open Wednesdays to Mondays, 10am to 10pm. Closed on Tuesdays