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Wednesday, 13 June 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

Filthy reality in back alleys

DO NOT judge a restaurant by its frontage and the dining area, advises Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

Its Health and Environment Department director Dr Noor Akma Shabudin said most eateries in the city tend to spend money to make their entrance appealing to customers, but neglect the food preparation area.

“They put a lot of effort on the interior and exterior of the shop, but stinge on having a spacious kitchen complete with a proper washing area.

“If you go to the back lanes of these restaurants you will see that most of the time, cleaning, washing and sometimes even cooking are done outside, next to clogged drains,’’ she said.

Dr Noor Akma said the public should be more observant of the surroundings of a restaurant before choosing to eat at the place.

This corner restaurant in Jalan Mega Mendung in Kompleks Bandar shows workers cooking and washing dishes in the alley. Detergent, insect aerosol cans, bottles of sauces are placed together.
This corner restaurant in Jalan Mega Mendung in Kompleks Bandar shows workers cooking and washing dishes in the alley. Detergent, insect aerosol cans, bottles of sauces are placed together.

“They can go on the pretence of using the toilet, and they would have to pass the kitchen area to get there.

“So I suggest they take a good look at the kitchen and toilets to see if they are hygienic, and get an idea of how their food is prepared,’’ she added.

StarMetro found this to be true during a check at several areas in Kuala Lumpur.

Gas cylinders next to stacks of dirty dishes in the back lane of a restaurant.
Gas cylinders next to stacks of dirty dishes in the back lane of a restaurant.

Walking along the back alleys of Jalan Kuchai Maju 6, Kuchai Entrepreneurs Park, the sight of workers washing dishes, vegetables, meat, as well as cooking next to drains is common.

There was a nauseating stench of rotting organic waste, coupled with oil and grease hardened inside the drains and rat droppings.

The sight of a huge tub of sauce used to marinate and glaze barbecued pork that is served with the wantan mee, caught my eye. What shocked me was that the tub was left exposed at the back of the shop.

Two restaurant employees cleaning vegetables and washing dishes behind a restaurant in Cheras.
Two restaurant employees cleaning vegetables and washing dishes behind a restaurant in Cheras.

A similar sight was spotted in the Jalan Mega Mendung business area.

The back lanes of the restaurants were too filthy to describe, we let the photos speak for themselves.

Restaurant employees were seen cooking food and washing dishes right next to drains.

A worker washing dishes at the back of an eatery in Kuchai Lama.
A worker washing dishes at the back of an eatery in Kuchai Lama.

At one place, a female employee cooked meat while chatting with her friend who was washing dishes next to her.

Bottles of detergent and cans of insect repellent were placed together with sauce and spice bottles next to the makeshift stove.

A few doors down, some ikan bakar were left exposed on a hot plate at the back lane of a restaurant.

We also noticed that the majority of the food handlers did not wear caps and gloves.

The same situation was seen in Cheras, Taman Desa, Happy Garden and Brickfields.

The locations are ironically popular food joints, but the drains were clogged with grease and many of the restaurants’ grease traps were either not functioning or only there for show.

Two weeks ago, a restaurant in Bangsar made headlines over its unsanitary way of washing dishes.

Raj’s Banana Leaf Restaurant branch in Bangsar drew the ire of netizens after a 30-second video showed three of its employees squatting at the back of the restaurant scrubbing and rinsing plates in a puddle of water in a pothole next to the drain.

Following the incident StarMetro embarked on the Metro Hygiene Campaign urging readers to alert us on dirty restaurants.

The feedback has been overwhelming, we received many tip-offs from readers.

Readers highlighted restaurants in Gombak, Jalan Kelang Lama, Sri Hartamas, Cheras, Brickfields, Bukit Bintang and Bangsar.

They even sent photos and videos showing rats, cockroaches and flies in the restaurants, even at high-end eateries inside hotels and malls.