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 serving halal food, here’s a quick guide that would insha’Allah make it easier for you.
Types of restaurants in Malaysia
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 and big restaurants.
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 or logo.
Food Establishment with Muslim Chef/Cook/Employees
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 usually assume their food are halal too.
It’s common to find food establishments saying they are pork-free restaurants. Pork-free in this case means they don’t serve any pork. On a personal note, we tend to avoid going to pork-free restaurants and the reasons are simply because we are not too sure on the halal status of their other cuts of meats and ingredients, as well as the preparation methods. Some Muslim don’t mind, but in our case, we are quite particular in this. Take note that some of these restaurants may serve alcohol.
But what if you still doubt a particular restaurant?
Not Entirely 100% Halal-Certified Restaurant
Some restaurants have the halal certificate or logo, 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 may still be in the process of applying the halal certificate or logo for other menu items and outlets. Just ask to reconfirm.
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. In this case, it is up to your discretion whether to eat at the restaurant or walk away.
When we see someone who ‘looks’ like a Muslim, we usually give them the benefit of the doubt that they are Muslims and conform to the Muslim dietary requirements. However, there is a small number of scrupulous business owners who use non-halal ingredients or employ non-Muslims that ‘look’ like Muslims just to encourage Muslims to dine at their establishments. Again, just ask if you are unsure.
The way forward
Check & Verify
For restaurants with the halal certificate or logo, 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. Just input the keyword and press the search button for a quick search.
Ask & 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 or logo.
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? Are there any Islamic-themed decorations? Do they use any non-halal ingredients? These are all telltale signs that the restaurant could be serving halal food.
Trust Your Gut Instincts
The restaurant may have a halal certificate or logo. 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 quite right.
At this point, trust your gut instincts and run! Run to the next restaurant that fulfills all the halal criteria and emits a feel-good-vibe to your inner being.
There you have it, our quick guide on how to find a halal restaurant in Malaysia. Let us know if you have anything else to add!