SINGAPORE - 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 on Kandahar Street in Kampong Glam - ayam gulai padang, rendang, fishball soup, assam pedas and sotong hitam - are now prepared using red rice and healthier oil.
Red rice, a type of wholegrain rice, contains a similar amount of fibre as brown rice, but has 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 (HPB) Healthier Dining Programme, a partnership with the food and beverage industry that aims to offer more lower-calorie meals, meals 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 cost 50 cents more and average $6, mainly because red rice is double the cost of white rice.
Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health, who attended the launch of the dishes on Tuesday (July 31), said that getting more food and beverage 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.
Said Mr Amrin of the healthier dishes: "The response has been quite encouraging, (but) 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 food and beverage 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.
HOW DOES IT TASTE?
ST Food Editor Tan Hsueh Yun and food critic Wong Ah Yoke give their take after tasting the healthier nasi padang dishes.
“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 their 50 dishes with healthier versions. Scoffers have plenty of other choices.
“The ayam padang gulai, 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
“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