Saturday, 8 June 2013

Is Halal Foods Really Halal in Ho Chi Minh City?

I believe many of our Muslim tourist are very concern about halal foods when travelling in Vietnam. Sometimes, the difficulties of getting halal foods can ruin the travelling plan to Vietnam and you can't enjoy to the fullest when visiting this beautiful country.


The Problem

Bánh Canh Cua
Crab Meat Noodle
When I said, is "Halal really Halal" in Ho Chi Minh City is base on my personal experiences here and I believe that I need to share about it. A short introduction about myself, I used to worked with some F&B businesses in Ho Chi Minh City and to be in their kitchen is one of my job area. So, when I saw such "non-halal" practise, I feel that our Muslim tourist were abused without they notice it.

Situation 1: Halal is just on the name
There are restaurants which is not owned by Muslim and declaring that they served Halal foods. All the foods in the menu are "pork free", yes it is! But the problem is the Vietnamese staff. Sometimes, they will bring their own lunch box which is contain of non-halal foods: pork and they will use customer's plate or bowl to eat it. Next, other staff will use the same plate which they ate with pork to serve to the customer. This kind of restaurants normally have Halal Certificate by HCMC Islamic Community Association, but for me, it is just on paper. Besides, during Chinese New Year (Vietnamese Tet Holiday), they will do Buddhist prayer (with Roasted Baby Pig) and other Buddhism stuff which is against to Muslim rules. 

Situation 2: Clearly Non Halal but Claimed as Halal
This situation happened in various Thai Restaurant in town. If you checked in their menu, normally its clearly stated names of some pork dishes in their menu. What happened is, they will say that they will cook the food separately and no pork. But still, check back in the kitchen, they still will cook the foods by using the same wok to cook pork dishes and its truly non-halal. Some can say that, they can order Pad Thai, Tom Yam Goong or other foods, but still, the wok is the same to cook pork dishes. As for beef and chicken, they didn't it from Halal supplier too.

You need to know that some "Halal Claimed" Restaurants do provide staff's meals and once in a week, "pork" will be one of their staff meal menu

So, where to eat in Ho Chi Minh City?

Halal@Saigon

This restaurant was owned by former President Malaysia Business Chamber (MBC) Vietnam, Dr.Shimi and partners. For us Malaysian who lived in Ho Chi Minh City, having lunch or dinner at Halal Saigon will bring us nearer to our hometown and to cure our homesick. Most of the foods in the menu are authentic Malaysian foods such as Mee Goreng Mamak, Nasi Lemak, Char Kuey Teow, Fish Curry and many more. On another side, they served some Vegetarian foods and Vietnamese foods as well. The Chef in this restaurant is a Malaysian Chef and the staffs are Vietnamese and Muslim Champa. Besides, the Muslim Champa staffs here can speak Malay which can make your ordering easier. Oh! they have tea tarik too. Price wise, its pricey in the range of VND80,000 - VND250,000 for one serving of food. 

31 Dong Du Street, District 1, HCMC 
(Few steps from Sheraton Saigon)
Operation Hour: 10.00am - 10.00pm daily
Tel: +84 8 3824 6823 (Vietnamese) +84 8 3827 4602 (English)
Email: info@halalsaigon.com Website: www.halalsaigon.com

VN Halal & Bon Mua (Four Seasons Restaurant)

This 2 restaurants own by the same owner, Mr. Riduwan. This restaurant serves various stunning Malay and Vietnamese foods. This restaurant was by Muslim Champa owner and most of the staffs are Muslim Champa too. Truly halal and 100% no doubt to eat here. Price wise, almost the same as Halal Saigon but worth it for a healty and delicious Halal foods after 1 full day on the street of Ho Chi Minh City.

VN Halal Restaurant
14 Pham Hong Thai Street, District 1, HCMC
(Few steps from the famous Ben Thanh Market)
Operation Hour: 7.00am - 11.00pm daily
Tel: +84 8 3822 0311 (Vietnamese, English & Malay)

Bon Mua Restaurant
Thi Sach Street, District 1, HCMC
(At the end of Dong Du Street. If you walk from Sheraton Saigon, you need to walk till the end of the street and the restaurant is located exactly at the T Junction)

Street Food, 189 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1, HCMC

Vietnam is very popular with delicious street foods. Many of use really want to enjoy street foods in this country because the price is much cheaper and the taste is very different. But where to heading for? Where you can find Halal and authentic Hue Style Vietnamese Beef Noodle (Bun Bo Hue) or Vermicelli Beef Noodle (Pho Bo)? You should heading to address 189, Hai Ba Trung Street, HCMC. Its a stalls with table and small stools run by family of Muslim Champa. Very authentic and Halal. One of the man here can speak Malay (sound a bit like Indonesian Language) which can make your ordering easier. Oh ya! this stall is very popular among Petronas staffs and I always saw people from Indonesian Consulates having their breakfast here. Besides breakfast, this stall also served lunch (economy rice), in case u are looking for a cheaper deal.

The hem or alley of 189 Hai Ba Trung Street
(Next to N&M Fashion Store)
Open daily from 7.00am - 1.00pm

This 4 places are No Doubt Halal and I had seen everything in and out. There are many so called, Indian Muslim restaurants in town, but I am still unable to give clear idea about the Halal-ness of their servings.