It was close to 11pm last Wednesday.
A group of men, in their 40s and 50s, and drenched in sweat, entered the eatery just as I was about to leave.
I stood up, regretting eating a plate of steamed yam cake. It was delicious, and only cost RM2.50. But I hated the fact that I had “dinner” so late.
Dinners, for me at least, should not be past 7pm.
Just as I walked out of the shop, the group of men dropped their bags, complete with badminton racquets, and ordered an array of drinks and dishes. There was Milo ais dinosaur, a large bowl of curry mee, and dry wan tan noodles with extra char siew, among others.
That was a feast.
Now, all those calories they had burnt, would surely be added back on, double in fact, after the meal.
But aren’t we all guilty of such late-night indulgences? We believe that after a good workout, there can be a “window” where we treat ourselves to oily, fatty, fried meals. And then we go to sleep.
In a poll on Twitter, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin asked: “What do you think about the operating hours of mamak shops?”
Sempena pelancaran #AgendaNasionalMalaysiaSihat, apa pandangan anda terhadap waktu operasi restoran ‘kedai mamak’?
— Khairy Jamaluddin 🇲🇾🌺 (@Khairykj) November 11, 2021
Out of the 22,917 votes, 81.7 per cent said such eateries should be allowed to open 24 hours. It’s not purely about the operating hours as some people worked odd hours, but the menu that is offered.
What baffles me most of the time is the lack of a decent healthy option. For example, waiters often look surprised, or repeat my order, when I say: “Bihun goreng, kurang minyak, tambah sayur.” Most of the time, they would just add a little bit more cabbage, and I’d be lucky if I got carrots. That’s it.
And when I order teh-o kosong, I pay the same amount as a regular teh-o, despite no sugar added to my drink.
These are the 3 top states with diabetes in #Malaysia.
— Azrul Mohd Khalib (@azrulmohdkhalib) November 14, 2021
Some may argue that mamak shops, or most common eateries, are not places one goes to, to find healthy food. And that those who are conscious about what they eat, should go to some “atas” (expensive) place that sells quinoa and overly priced salads. My argument is – why should a healthy option be more expensive? Shouldn’t such foods be made accessible to all?
The economics just doesn’t make sense. Food that is more oily, more spicy, more salty, and more sugary, are cheaper than those with lesser, or minus all those ingredients.
As we say hello to a (hopefully better) 2022, eating right should be among the new year’s resolution for many –with some perhaps secretly continuing the same resolutions that never really took off last year.
Eating right, moderately and ensuring we eat at the right time, are important. All that working out would be for nothing if we do not watch what we eat.
Note to self: No more eating dinners past 7pm.
Note to eateries: Please start offering healthy options at “mamak shop” prices. Eating healthy isn’t exclusively for the rich.