In Malaysia. we are extremely blessed because finding halal food is a walk in the park. Whether it’s Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, or Western cuisine, most of the time you can easily find halal variations of it, especially in big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown, and Johor Bahru.
But for K, it wasn’t that easy for him. Back in China, most of the restaurants and fast food giants like KFC and McDonald’s aren’t Muslim-friendly, so it took him a while to come to the realisation that these fast food joints are in fact halal in Malaysia. In fact, he used to only eat at restaurants that carry the halal logo.
Now if you are a foreigner and are not sure on how to determine whether a particular restaurant in Malaysia is halal, here’s a quick guide that would insha’Allah make it easier for you.
1) Halal-Certified Restaurant
The easiest go-to is the halal certificate or logo that’s usually located at the entrance, the cashier area, and in some restaurants, in their menu.
If you can’t find the halal certificate or logo, just ask the cashier if they have one. Do take note that halal certifications are usually applied by foreign restaurants and big restaurants.
2) Muslim-Owned Food Outlet
Not all Muslim-owned food outlets carry a halal certificate or logo. In fact, most don’t. For example, if you go to small restaurants, food kiosks, night markets, or food trucks run by Muslims, you can hardly find anybody with a halal certificate.
The general rule of the thumb is if the owners and employees are Muslims, we’d almost always assume the food that they sell are halal too.
3) Muslim Chef/Cook
Sometimes the owner of the restaurant is not a Muslim, but they hire Muslim employees. The Muslim employees would do all the cooking, cleaning, and serving. In this case,we’d also assume their food are halal too.
Having shared our top 3 tips, there may still be occasions where you may doubt a particular restaurant. For example,
1) Not Entirely 100% Halal-Certified Restaurant
Some restaurants have the halal certificate, however the certificate does not cover all of their menu items or outlets.
Rather than thinking they’re up to some hanky-panky, chances are they’re still in the process of applying the halal certificate for other menu items and outlets. Think good thoughts, think good thoughts.
2) Halal But Not Toyyiban
The restaurant may serve halal food, but they don’t maintain the hygiene aspect. Food items are exposed to flies, cross-contamination, food prepared in unhygienic conditions, and using yesterday’s ‘recycled’ food, are just some aspects that can be overlooked.
3) Muslim Exterior
When we see someone who ‘looks’ like a Muslim, we give them the benefit of the doubt that they are Muslims and conform to the Muslim dietary requirements.
Fact is, there is a small number of scrupulous business owners who use non-halal ingredients or employ non-Muslims that ‘look’ like Muslims. Conspiracy theory?
What would be the best way forward?
1) Check And Verify
For restaurants with halal certificates or logos, you can check and verify their halal status at the Halal Malaysian Portal.
The portal has several search options and you can filter by state and category. Need to do a quick search? Just input the keyword and press the search button.
2) Ask And Observe
Now, if you went through the Halal Malaysian Portal and couldn’t find the restaurant’s name, it doesn’t mean the restaurant isn’t serving halal food. It just means they didn’t apply for the halal certificate.
The next step is to ask the employees, management, just about anybody who works in and for the restaurant whether the food is halal. Are the employees Muslims? Do they have a surau? Is there any Islamic-themed decorations? Do they use any non-halal ingredients? These are all telltale signs that the restaurant could be halal.
3) Trust Your Gut Instincts
The restaurant may have a halal certificate. The employees may be Muslims. The Islamic decorations are on point. But you still have that nagging uneasy feeling. Something tells you something’s not right.
At this point, trust your gut instincts and run! Run to the next restaurant that fulfills all the halal criteria and emits a feelgood-vibe to your inner being.
Didn’t expect this to be a long blog entry, but there you have it, our quick guide on how to find a halal restaurant in Malaysia.