Taking The Bait1 Sep 2013
Colin Chung sips his coffee and sets it down casually. Hardly pausing for a beat, he talks about his involvement in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, reflecting that it has been about seven years since he first started out. Originally a banker, Colin reveals that he had done a brief stint of marketing with Heineken, before ultimately making the crossover to F&B with a yakitori bar called Wabi Sabi. His initial foray ignited a passion for the competitive field, resulting in an expansion with other establishments such as Shuraku, Daikanyama, and most recently, Bait.
A shrewd businessman, Colin had spotted a noticeable gap in the Malaysian market for western style seafood. Eager to tap into the relatively untouched pool, the idea for Bait was borne then. “When we think of seafood, we tend to think of Chinese restaurants; big formats with plenty of dishes, for 10 people at one sitting—we wanted to do something different because there wasn’t anyone doing single plate seafood dishes.” A wry smile lights up his face as he says, “Setting up was a bit hectic in the beginning. We only had between a month-and-a-half to two months to turn this place around.” Noting that he had always wanted their current slot on Bangsar’s exclusive Jalan Telawi stretch, he mentioned that Bait’s unique position as the only seafood eatery also allowed it to canvas between both restaurant and bar, providing a sublime selection of seafood and drinks to eager epicureans.
A quick perusal of Bait’s menu reveals that most of its dishes carry an element of seafood, be it fish or shellfish. Colin highlights that the worst crime which can be committed in the preparation of seafood is to over embellish and drown out its clean, fresh flavours. With this in mind, it should not come as a surprise to learn that a lot of raw seafood such as oysters and fish are served at Bait too. In their quest to tempt customers with an even more diverse range of culinary delights, he notes that their new menu also sees the introduction of pork as an accompaniment to seafood. With a small laugh, Colin admits that despite the exotic array of food available, Bait’s bestselling item, surprisingly, is the humble fish and chips.
Colin observes that Bait has washed up upon the neat rows of restaurants and cafes along Bangsar’s bustling Jalan Telawi 3 at interesting times, referring to it as a resurgence that sees the “comeback of restaurants” to the popular neighbourhood. He points out that his business philosophy is simple and revolves around maintaining certain standards through consistency. In his own words, Colin confesses, “The number one difficulty is consistency, which every restaurant will struggle with. It’s something we focus on here—to do the stuff that we do well, well regularly.”