Whether you’re in search of pork-free dim sum delights or lard-less Chinese bakery goods, here are our favourite halal restaurants in Hong Kong.
There’s no better place to be a foodie than Hong Kong. But what if you’re trying to keep halal? An Arabic word that translates to “permissible” in English (the opposite of “haram”, which means “forbidden”), the notion of halal and guidelines around it play into various facets of Muslim life. When it comes to food and drink, keeping halal generally entails avoiding pork and alcohol, and consuming meat only from healthy animals that were blessed and humanely butchered before being taken to the kitchen. Islam has been a part of Hong Kong since the early days of empire through soldiers and merchants from the Indian subcontinent. Still, navigating its vibrant culinary scene with a view to keeping halal can be a tricky endeavour. The rigorous emphasis on sanitation, hygiene and ethical eating requires you to do your due diligence – which is where we come in. Ahead, discover our favourite halal restaurants in Hong Kong.
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From northern India to Turkey, Persian gastronomy has influenced and been influenced by diverse cultures and cuisines. Yet, restaurants serving Persian cuisine are still few and far between– in part because the most complex, laboured and celebrated dishes of Persian cuisine spring from modest home kitchens. Graham Street’s casual dining concept Loveat is attempting to shift the trend; it’s the first Persian restaurant in Hong Kong, and halal-certified at that. Fragrant with luxurious ingredients like saffron and rosewater, the food at Loveat is difficult to fault– refined and deeply flavourful, yet gentle on the palate. For an unexpected knockout, try the Mirza Ghasemi ($88), smoked aubergine paired with supple naan.
Loveat, Shop E, Garley Building, Graham Street, Central, 2595 9900, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.loveat.hk
Tucked away in an inconspicuous corner of Sai Ying Pun, past High Street and its trendy bistros and boutiques, you’ll find Ba Yi. It’s amongst the rare restaurants in Hong Kong to specialise in Xinjiangese fare, and has been steadily awarded the Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide for the past few years. A slow food institution where flavours of the ancient Silk Road reign supreme, diners flock here for hearty dishes like Roasted Lamb Kebab ($99), Traditional Stewed Lamb ($238), and the monumental Roasted Lamb Leg ($368), which must be ordered a day in advance. For a smaller solo meal, you can’t go wrong with the Lamb Vegetable Tomato Noodle ($50), which features hand-pulled noodles tossed with tomato, peppers, and mutton bits.
Ba Yi, 43 Water St, Sai Wan, 2484 9981
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Kowloon City may not be the most accessible district for those unfamiliar with the local tongue, but it’s a grave mistake to overlook it. An area that has so far managed to resist sweeping gentrification, it’s a hotspot for Chow Yun-fat sightings, unpretentious Thai cuisine and some of the freshest seafood in town. Islam Food, having first opened up in the 1950s and now with a larger, second location less than a ten-minute walk away, adds to the rich cultural tapestry with its halal-certified Chinese fare. The pan fried beef buns ($40 for two pieces) here are the best in the city– the tender meat, freshened up with alliums, is moist and well-seasoned, while the casing has just the right amount of chew.
Islam Food (Main Branch), G/F, 1 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, 2382 2822
Islam Food (New Branch), G/F, 33 – 35 Tak Ku Ling Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong, 2382 1822, www.islamfood.com.hk
With an extensive menu spanning dishes from Guangdong to Xinjiang, Ma’s Restaurant offers halal diners the opportunity to sample an assortment of regional Chinese cuisines. Owner Ma’s wife, Yvonne Ma Yee-fong, is a member of the central Chinese Hui ethnic minority, and many items draw on treasured recipes from her Muslim family. The Veal Goulash ($25 per piece) is by far the most frequently ordered, and while they may not be as juicy as the ones at Islam Food, they are dependably delicious. The Fried Lamb Dumplings ($52 for five) come highly recommended, as does the Curry Mutton with Rice ($70), Lamb Roll ($58) and Lamb Rack ($49 per piece).
Ma’s Restaurant, 21-25 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po, 2787 6108
A well-known halal-certified spot that’s consistently earned high praise from the Michelin Guide, Bombay Dreams has been serving up top tier Indian fare in Central since 2002. While the buffet ($178) offers great value and makes this restaurant a favoured lunchtime pick, you would be remiss not to try out the à la carte selection. Crafted by seventh generation chef Irshad Ahmed Qureshi, the menu focuses on northern Indian flavours– think succulent kebabs of Awadhi provenance, bonafide biryanis with saffron-tinged basmati, and aromatic desserts flecked with nuts and dry fruit that recall the royal kitchens. There’s also a broad selection of vegetarian offerings to boot.
Bombay Dreams, 4/F, Carfield Building, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, 2971 0001, email@example.com, www.diningconcepts.com/restaurants/Bombay-Dreams
Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre Canteen
To find Hong Kong’s premier halal dim sum destination, you must venture inside Wan Chai’s Ammar Mosque. Opened in 2005 by the Islamic Union of Hong Kong, the canteen within the Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre creatively reimagines yum cha classics that typically feature pork and pork-derived products with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables. In addition, each item is prepared by chefs specially trained to handle halal food. With prices to rival even Tim Ho Wan (dim sum dishes start at $25), the canteen presents an inclusive dining space unlike any other. During congregational prayers each Friday, mosque-goers can enjoy milk tea and food at no charge. The Islamic Centre also houses The Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, which provides certificates to halal restaurants in the region.
Islamic Centre Canteen, 5/F, Masjid Ammar And Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, 40 Salvation Army Street, Wan Chai, 2575 2218
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Warung Malang Club
Don’t be dissuaded by the “members-only” sign, Warung Malang Club is open to everyone– as long as you can handle bold flavours and intense, roiling spice from the upper reaches of the Scoville scale. A tried and tested Sassy favourite, this Indonesian spot overlooking Jardine is well-loved for its Nasi Campur or mixed rice lunch set (from $55). Stir fried green beans, Sambal Egg, Tempeh Goreng, and either Beef Rendang or Curry Chicken accompany a serving of white rice in an eclectic one-plate meal akin to a mini buffet.
Warung Malang Club, Flat B2, 2/F, Dragon Rise Building, 9-11 Pennington Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2915 7859, www.facebook.com/warungmalanghk
Omni Palace Noodle House and Grill (Dong Fan Gong LanZhou Beef Noodles)
From biang biang to bamboo, Hong Kong is home to a wealth of hand-stretched noodle varieties for all sorts of foodies to enjoy. For diners looking to keep halal while slurping on handmade noodles said to originate in the Hui community of Mainland China’s Gansu province, there’s halal-certified Omni Palace Noodle House and Grill. The name “omni”, while confusing, does not reference plant-based protein– it’s an acronym for “Original Master Noodle Inheritance”. With a sister location in Toronto, at the Causeway Bay branch a narrow entrance gives way to a modestly decorated dining space aromatic with the scent of tempered cumin and fennel. The menu is succinct and showcases– in addition to an assortment of northwestern Chinese-style small plates– variations of what they do best: chewy la mian stewed in a clear, spring onion-topped broth with thinly pounded beef (from $58). Order the roasted lamb kebab as well– served on metal skewers in multiples of three ($18), they make for a shareable, full-flavoured side evocative of the Silk Road.
Omni Palace Noodle House and Grill, 481 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 9293 3755
Bahçe Turkish Restaurant
Located near the ferry pier, this hybrid bar and restaurant space, owned by a former flight attendant from Turkey, serves up Turkish favourites in sleepy Mui Wo. Both the cold and hot Mezze Platters ($130 and $150 respectively) lend themselves well to sharing, while dishes like the Grilled Sardines ($150) and Roast Lamb Wrap ($78) make for a satisfying meal after a dip in the tranquil waters of Silver Mine Bay Beach. Looking for a little something to quench your thirst? The ruby-hued Turkish tea, imported from Turkey, comes with free refills.
Bahçe Turkish Restaurant, Shop 19, G/F, Mui Wo Centre, 3 Ngan Wan Road, Mui Wo, Lantau Island, 2984 0222, www.facebook.com/BahceTurkishHK
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Named after the majestic mountain range, Himalaya Restaurant on Tai Wong Street East presents a vast menu of Nepalese and Indian fare. While you’ll find serviceable tandoori items, biryanis, and northern Indian style curries enriched with cream, it’s worth taking a moment to sample some of the less familiar dishes. Try the Kukhura Ko Masu ($85) for a Nepalese chicken curry with a light, cumin-forward gravy, or opt for the Lamb Sekuwa ($84) if you’re in the mood for something meaty. Whether steamed, deep fried or bathed in chilli, the Momos are flawless ($58).
Himalaya Restaurant, Shop A, 1/F, 22 – 31 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 2527 5899, himalayarestaurant.com.hk
From sugar-crusted pineapple buns to the flaky egg tart pastries, many of Hong Kong’s iconic sweet treats rely on rendered pig fat or lard for their soft, buttery flavour and texture. While lard is dairy-free and relatively low in saturated fats, it poses a problem for diners keen to get the full cha chaan teng experience while keeping halal. Fortunately, the bakery sections of Chrisly Café locations across the city swap out the lard for peanut oil. The pineapple buns are not the fluffiest of all, but you can rest easy knowing that everything coming out of the oven here is halal-certified.
Editor’s Note: Only the bakery, not the restaurant, is certified halal.
Chrisly Café, Shop 10, 2/F, Emax, 1 Trademart Drive, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong, 2667 7677, www.facebook.com/chrislycafe
Featured image and image 1 courtesy of Loveat via Facebook, image 2 courtesy of Bombay Dreams via Instagram, image 3 courtesy of Sassy Media Group.