Airy and bright with a skylight, a window overlooking the street below, a lot of space and a clean palette of pale coloured furniture, Fittie Sense evokes a sense of wellness and lightness. Potted plants and the sale of artisanal goods supporting the Penan of Borneo reinforce the eco-friendly, healthy-living credentials.
The philosophy extends to the menu, with items like in-house fermented drinks such as kombucha and keffir, diary-free and no-added-sugar desserts, organic teas and coffees and indicators for diary-free, vegetarian, vegan, low carb, diabetic-friendly, workout recovery and so on. The fresh, wholesome approach eschews the use of processed foods, but that doesn’t mean an unimaginative menu. Middle Eastern, Western, and local influences are scattered throughout and small plates as well as mains feature grass-fed beef, fish, whole grains and plenty of vegetables.
So, how does healthy taste? Cajun Chicken (RM28), grilled boneless chicken on chilli and millet quinoa pilaf with smashed avocado on a bed of raw vegetables, had the basics right, a balanced protein, low-glycemic-index carbohydrate meal that was a little spicy with a good mix of textures. But the chicken was dry, and a little more spice would have livened things up.
Black Chicken & Shitake Mushroom soup (RM19) was appetising and hot, while the Spinach Walnut Pesto Pasta with Sweet Peas and Parmesan (RM21) was stodgy but adequate. The coffees were thick and aromatic, making this a place ideal for lingering.
Well-meaning, balanced and healthy on paper, the food was a little dull and lacked sparkle, putting healthy before appetising, which is a pity because it can be both.
In her blog at alisonsimplicity.wordpress.com, Alicia Lim recounts how “Konmari”, Marie Kondo’s theory in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, changed her life. Today, she and her husband Derson run Alison Soup House (Alicia + Derson = Alison), a restaurant dedicated to “nourishing souls through good food”.
The clean, uncluttered space of the restaurant reflects her philosophy of dropping unnecessary baggage. A white poodle, Spikey, rescued from a life of abuse and neglect, has the run of the place. Chinese herbal soups define the restaurant, although there are side dishes such as pork satay and a couple of non-soup items. Chinese herbal soups are traditionally semi-medicinal, credited with curing various ills to imparting vigour and rebalancing the body’s chi.
Free-range chicken and antibiotic-free pork are used in the zero-MSG soups, which follow traditional methods of slow-cooking. There are over half a dozen soup dishes, including bak kut teh. All dishes are served with multigrain rice and a protein apart from the soup itself.
The best-selling Signature 7 Treasures Herbal Soup Set (RM24.90), said to “boost the immune system, aid digestion and cure colds and flu”, takes seven hours of slow cooking pork knuckle with various herbs and seven types of vegetables. The result is a clear, thick soup naturally sweet from stewing all those ingredients, and imbued with a lightness from the Chinese herbs, yet substantial, when served with a bowl of thinly sliced pork with half an egg and a bowl of purple rice.
The daily special was Red Wine Ginger Chicken Mee Sua (RM28.90), a traditional recipe for women in confinement, said to rejuvenate the body and boost blood circulation. It was a generous portion, a meaty chicken leg in a deep red broth with slices of ginger and Chinese herbs, with mee sua. Sweet, nourishing and not overly gingery, it was light in the way of Chinese soups done the traditional way.
Desserts include Bubur Cha-Cha (RM10), thick with coconut milk, sweet with tapioca and sweet potato, as well as red bean and snow fungus soups.
Fittie Sense, 23A Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, KL. 03 2858 4023. Mon, Wed-Fri, 11am-10pm; Sat-Sun, 8.30am-10pm.
Alison Soup House, 6A (first floor), Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 2, TTDI, KL. 03 2385 0060. Daily, 11am-3pm; 6-10pm.
This article first appeared on June 4, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.