Healthier nasi padang on the menu

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health Amrin Amin says getting more F&B partners on board the Healthier Dining Programme is part of his ministry's fight against diabetes. Rumah Makan Minang's five new healthier dishes are (clockwise from top left)
Rumah Makan Minang's five new healthier dishes are (clockwise from top left) sotong hitam, fishball soup, rendang, ayam gulai padang and assam pedas. They are now prepared with less coconut milk and healthier vegetable oil, and served with red rice.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health Amrin Amin says getting more F&B partners on board the Healthier Dining Programme is part of his ministry's fight against diabetes.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health Amrin Amin says getting more F&B partners on board the Healthier Dining Programme is part of his ministry's fight against diabetes.

First such dining outlet in HPB programme offers red rice option

The next time you tuck into a delicious meal of nasi padang at Rumah Makan Minang, you can choose a dish that has been made with healthier ingredients.

Five menu options at the halal Indonesian restaurant in Kandahar Street in Kampong Glam - ayam gulai padang, rendang, fishball soup, assam pedas and sotong hitam - are now prepared with less coconut milk and healthier vegetable oil, and served with red rice.

A type of wholegrain rice, red rice has a similar amount of fibre as brown rice, but twice the amount of iron and six times the amount of zinc.

The restaurant is the first nasi padang outlet to join the Health Promotion Board's Healthier Dining Programme, a partnership with the food and beverage industry that aims to offer more lower-calorie meals, dishes prepared with healthier ingredients, reduced-sugar beverages and water.

One serving of each of the new dishes contains 400 calories.

A typical nasi padang dish contains 700 to 900 calories.

The restaurant's director, Mr Hazmi Zin, said the healthier versions of the dishes - which average $6 - cost 50 cents more, mainly because red rice costs twice as much as white rice. He added that it took around four months to come up with healthier versions of the dishes without compromising the taste.

  • 400

  • Calories in one serving of each of the new dishes, compared with 700 to 900 calories in a typical nasi padang dish.

    50m

    Number of healthier meals sold by F&B operators under the Healthier Dining Programme from April last year to March this year, up from 7.5 million in 2014.

"It was a challenge because red rice doesn't suit the taste of most of our dishes," he said. "We narrowed it down to five dishes from 20."

Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health who attended the launch yesterday, said that getting more F&B partners on board the programme is part of his ministry's fight against diabetes.

"It's not just the Malay community. All of us need to eat healthy and Singaporeans in general are eating out more often," he added.

Three-fifths of Singaporeans eat out for lunch and/or dinner at least four times a week, according to the National Nutrition Survey 2010.

An eat-out meal usually contains an average of 700 to 800 calories.

Mr Amrin said the response to the healthier dishes has been "quite encouraging" but he added: "Of course there are people who are not used to the taste and it takes a while for people to adjust."

The programme started in 2014 and there are now more than 1,140 F&B operators with 8,700 outlets on board. Of this number, 680 outlets offer halal food.

The number of healthier meals sold by these operators has also increased from 7.5 million in 2014 to 50 million from April last year to March this year.


Healthier, but how does it taste?

NO COMPROMISE ON FLAVOUR

"Lots of people will scoff at the healthier versions of these dishes and I must admit I was sceptical too. As much as I love the richness of the full-fat versions, I'm glad Rumah Makan Minang has replaced five of its 50 dishes with healthier versions. Scoffers have plenty of other choices. The ayam gulai padang, sotong hitam and fishball soup are terrific, no compromise on the flavour. I like the lighter gravy for the ayam, although it is better with white rice than red. The assam pedas could be more tangy. I'm sitting on the fence about the rendang. Chilli dominates the dish and it almost blew my head off. But that robust gravy is perfect with the red rice."

Tan Hsueh Yun, ST Food Editor

MOST DISHES STILL TASTY

"You can taste that there is less coconut milk and oil used, especially in the beef rendang. But most of the dishes are still really tasty. I usually find many nasi padang dishes too oily, so these actually suit me better. You don't have to go with all healthy choices. I would eat these with a piece of regular ayam goreng, and still have a healthier and lighter meal."

Wong Ah Yoke, ST food critic

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2018, with the headline 'Healthier nasi padang on the menu'. Print Edition | Subscribe