For those that live a mostly halal lifestyle, it can be challenging at times to find a certified halal restaurant in Japan, let alone one that doesn’t have pork ingredients in all their menu items. This can be extra troublesome, especially when a group of friends invite you out for dinner, and you have to take an unusually long time to look at the menu for a potentially pork-free dish. You think you’re finally successful when you spot チキンカーレー on the second-to-last page of the restaurant’s “grand menu”, but you still want to make sure that it’s safe, so you call a waiter to ask, “sumimasen, kore butaniku haittemasuka?”
Unfortunately, you find out that even though they do not put in any pork or ham, the roux that they use to make the curry itself contains lard. Then you start cursing pig fat in front of all your friends, who are probably already giving you weird looks for taking such a long time to decide.
If you want to avoid that kind of mess, then here are some halal or pork-free restaurants which you can suggest to your friends that are not too “in-your-face” with being halal. And by that I mean it’s not just Indian, Persian, or any other kind of Middle Eastern cuisine. Rather, you can still have the ‘authentic’ experience of eating traditional Japanese dishes, just with some minor modifications to make them enjoyable for all. One word of caution: most of these halal places are in bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka, so for those out in the country… well, plan a day trip! It’ll be worth it!
Japanese Restaurant ORIGAMI ASAKUSA (Tokyo)
ORIGAMI ASAKUSA is in the top 10 best halal restaurants list, according to Tripadvisor, and not only does this restaurant offer a wide selection of Japanese dishes on their menu, happy customers have also praised ORIGAMI ASAKUSA for their generous portion sizes. They have a special wagyu beef bento which is priced at around 5000 yen, but it is definitely worth the price because of the quality of the beef. This place is also close to Asakusa station and other popular tourist spots, so it’s a great place to stop by if you need to have a halal lunch or dinner. They also have a 10% off lunch special and a prayer room equipped with an ablution area, so it is the ideal restaurant for Muslims.
Halal Wagyu Yakiniku PANGA (Tokyo)
If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s specifically a yakiniku place, then PANGA is the best place to go. It is better to book in advance instead of just walking in, because this place is normally pretty busy. Their happy customers keep on coming back for their A5 Wagyu beef – the type that melts in your mouth! Besides that, the meat comes with all kinds of side dishes, soups, and a rice set. There are even a la carte options which come with authentic Korean dishes. This place also has English-speaking staff, so it’s recommended for tourists too.
Ayam-Ya Okachimachi (Tokyo)
One should not leave Japan without trying some delicious ramen first, and Ayam-Ya Okachimachi is the best option for strictly halal-eaters. Most ramen places will use pork and other pig parts for their broth, so it’s definitely not safe for Muslims and vegetarians. Ayam-Ya’s broth, however, is made with chicken, and it still has that rich, creamy consistency. Also, “Ayam” is the Malay/Indonesian word for “chicken”, so this place has probably attracted a lot of Malay-speaking customers. Ayam-ya’s specialty is their spicy chicken ramen, which has undoubtedly won the hearts of those who are all about the ‘spice life’.
Chibo Diversity (Osaka)
When people think of Osaka food, takoyaki and okonomiyaki are always the first ones to come to their minds. The Chibo franchise is also popular for their famous okonomiyaki, and there is finally a halal-certified outlet now! It is not only pork-free, but alcohol-free as well. They even made sure to use brand-new iron griddles too, in order to make sure that the freshly made okonomiyaki never has to come in contact with pork residue or any other haram ingredient out there. This Muslim-friendly Chibo chain also comes with prayer facilities and a specified area for ablution.
Matsuri is known or making all of their ingredients from scratch. They do not use any frozen or pre-chilled foods, so you can expect to have authentic and fresh Japanese food every time. This place is known for their halal takoyaki, and they even let you make your own too if you’re willing to try. Not only that, but there is also a small condiment store right outside which sells halal ingredients.
Sama-Sama Indonesian Restaurant (Kyoto)
If you want to try something halal that is not Japanese and not Indian, then Indonesian/Malay food is your next option. Sama-Sama is one of the best halal restaurants in Kyoto, and even though all their food is halal, they still have a bar with alcoholic drinks just in case your non-Muslim friends tag along and they feel like they might need an alcoholic beverage. Some of the recommended menu items are rendang, ayam penyet, and satay. Of course, they do have nasi goreng, but there are so many other interesting Indonesian dishes to try at this restaurant. This place has great ambience because of the lighting and an overall cozy interior. There are also English and Indonesian speaking staff, so it’s a good hangout spot for when you want to invite your more ‘international’ friends.
And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this article, and happy eating!
Photos for this article were provided by Dhia Jaffar. Cover image courtesy of pixabay.com
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