The director of Troika Sky Dining on missing Paris, his idea of comfort food and what constitutes a perfect weekend.
Options: What can diners expect from a visit to Brasserie Fritz?
Eddie Chew: All our dining concepts are the product of our yearning for something that is not available in Kuala Lumpur. We miss eating in Paris, and we particularly miss being able to pop into a brasserie for a salade Niçoise, a steak frites or some oysters — just delicious, simple French comfort food. No fuss and none of that Wagyu beef, gold leaf nonsense. That is how Brasserie Fritz was born.
Do you have a special menu for the festive season?
We have a Festive Menu for December, where we have put together our favourite Fritz dishes for those of you celebrating with family, friends or the office. There is also a special menu for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Tell us a little about Brasserie Fritz’s name and its unique location as a French brasserie in the heart of KL.
The name was inspired by Pina Bausch of Cafe Müller fame and the coffee houses of Austria. We were hoping it would be a meeting place for creatives and intellectuals, as in the heyday of the Viennese coffee houses where you might meet Freud, Klimt, Trotsky or the Von Trapp family. We are still waiting.
What are some of the must-trys when one visits?
My personal favourites are the seafood platter, the steak tartare, anchovy toast and the rainbow trout in beurre noisette.
What wines would you pair with them?
Tissot Crémant du Jura Blanc N/V with the seafood platter; Elian Da Ros ‘Coucou Blanc’, South West 2018, with the rainbow trout and the anchovy toast; and a Marc Delienne ‘Maurice’, Fleurie 2018, with the steak tartare.
You are surrounded by gorgeous food and drink all day but what do you eat off-duty? What is comfort food for you?
Off-duty, Chris [Bauer, director and executive chef of Troika Sky Dining] and I eat street food or cook at home, which can be anything from Thai to Nyonya, Italian to Moroccan or whatever our latest obsession is. Comfort food for me is Pad Krapow with a deep fried egg, Tortellini in brodo and my absolute favourite — curry puffs.
Where are your most favourite foodie destinations?
Paris and Tokyo. I love how accessible good food is in these cities and the variety they have to offer. From street food to Michelin-starred restaurants, traditional food to modern international cuisine. These cities have a respect for tradition. In Paris, you can still eat at La Tour d’Argent, which opened in 1582. At Inua in Tokyo, the sister restaurant of Noma, they are also not afraid of the bold and new. I love wandering around the markets of Paris and the depachika [food halls] at the basement levels of Tokyo department stores. Here, you will find some of the most wonderful produce in the world.
Where could we find you eating in town?
At Elegant Inn eating a beautifully steamed turbot, or at Overseas Chinese Restaurant eating a claypot dish of salted fish and pork belly, or at Sushi Ori feeding on the omakase menu. Bring on the shirako!
What are your 2022 travel plans looking like?
We cannot plan so far ahead. At the moment, we hope to be in France in January and February for the wine fairs in Montpellier and the Loire Valley. If not, it will be balik kampung to Ipoh for Chinese New Year.
Describe a perfect weekend for you.
Yoga on Saturday morning and then the Financial Times Weekend with some coffee. This will be followed by dim sum and then to the supermarket to shop for Sunday lunch. I get to knit a little in the afternoon and we go out for an early dinner at a friend’s place and are home by 11pm.
The next morning, we start cooking early as we will have four friends over for lunch at 1pm. We make lamb tagine as the main dish and there will be a delicious okra soup and various dips for starters while the pita bread is made fresh. A Sunday lunch for us should last five to seven hours, no less. Then it is a light dinner after and one episode of Call My Agent on Netflix before we go to bed.
What are you reading right now?
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. It tells the story of 10-year-old Jas and the unusual way she experiences the world around her. A tragedy happens and it ruptures her family and Jas is left fantasising how to save the family from the aftermath.
What are you listening to right now?
Piotr Anderszewski’s excerpts from Book 2 of The Well-Tempered Clavier by J S Bach. I fell in love with Anderszewski after watching Unquiet Traveller, a documentary by Bruno Monsaingeon where the pianist travels from Warsaw to Budapest by train with his grand piano. I now have almost all the CDs of this wonderful non-conformist pianist. This is his latest recording.
Which books do you always reread and why?
A J Liebling, Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris. It’s Liebling’s account of his time in Paris in 1926 and 1927, where he was sent to study but instead applied himself to the fine art of eating. His writing is a superb account of a Paris now vanished. I read this over and over again. I can almost taste and smell every meal he describes. It takes me on a most wonderful journey of which I will never tire.
Describe your kitchen at home for us.
I love our kitchen at home, although it is a tad small. But we have managed to fit in a fridge, a wine fridge and a wonderful matte black Bertazzoni cooker, which is the main focus of the space. The cabinets are cream coloured with wooden work tops and the only colours allowed here are cream, white, black and some orange accents. Tikus, our ginger and white cat, fits perfectly with our kitchen décor. We are in the process of extending our kitchen into the laundry area and squeezing in a wok station. Our kitchen is the heart of our home and we spend most of our days off cooking.
This article first appeared on Dec 20, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.