By CY Ming
The Penang health department and Penang Island City Council carried out an inspection on three eateries in Penang Road on the morning of March 13.
Two restaurants were ordered to close for two weeks. A dead rat was found in one of the restaurants, with rat droppings, cockroaches and dirty toilets in both eateries.
The third restaurant was fined RM1,000 for having a dirty kitchen. It was also issued a RM250 compound fine for not using a functioning grease trap, and RM90 for failing to vaccinate three workers.
I visited Penang last May and checked out the three restaurants, deciding on Line Clear which turned out to be a huge disappointment.
The food was below average, compared with the many nasi kandar restaurants I have tried over the years.
My favourite is still the same outlet that I have patronised for more than three decades. It started as a stall in a Chinese coffee shop along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur.
Later, it moved to its own shop a few doors away and subsequently took up two shoplots. It is common to find a long queue around lunch time.
Not far away, a corner shop had also become popular with even longer queues at times. These nasi kandar restaurants in Kuala Lumpur can easily give those in Penang a run for the money.
As such, the print, electronic and social media should not continue to hype up restaurants just because they used to be popular, particularly those that are not clean or comfortable.
For example, Line Clear is just a shed occupying an alley that leads to a public toilet. It was hot and dirty when I was there.
Line Clear boss Sahubar Ali was reported to have said “We clean the place daily. But this is an open space and it is hard for us to control rats.”
As such, the restaurant should not even be allowed to continue operating at a back lane that runs the risk of having pests that are hard to control.
Operating in the same spot for 70 years does not give it the right to stay, as the owners have saved huge sums of money from not paying rent, and they could easily move to any single or double shoplots to expand their business.
They owe it to the public to provide hygienic food and premises after raking in huge profits from their roaring business for so long.
Coincidentally, four cruise ships berthed at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal in Penang on March 13, with two of the larger vessels bringing in 6,000 passengers. Another cruise liner with 3,000 passengers on board is expected on Friday.
As such, the inspection of other restaurants in Penang could not be carried out due to an influx of tourists from the four cruise ships.
Routine inspections must be carried out more frequently to cover the many restaurants in a city, and this is not limited to Penang but nationwide.
CY Ming is an FMT reader.
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