Word has it that China will be opening its’ borders by end of this year. For Muslims planning to travel there, finding halal Chinese food in China could be tough especially when you do not speak the language.
The 美团 Meituan App
Here’s where the 美团 Meituan App comes to the rescue. With their tagline, ‘We help people eat better, live better”, they certainly help make it easier for us Muslims to find halal Chinese food. All you need to do is download the app.
Is it that easy?
We hate to break it to you, but yes, it can be that easy. Sure, the app is in Chinese and this could be a major problem especially when you don’t know any Chinese characters. However, at this age online translations are a click away. Furthermore, the restaurants post photos of the dishes, so you could make a rough guess.
I was 22 when I went to China. That was my first trip overseas on my own. Didn’t follow any tour groups. Didn’t even book a hotel before leaving for China. All I know I was going to stay there for 9 days. Before anybody aspire to follow my footsteps, take note that at that time I wasn’t completely on my own. I had my ex-colleagues and China student to bring me sight-seeing and arrange my lodging.
Obviously, they weren’t with me all the time, so there were occasions when I had to play solo. Alhamdulillah for me, the place I was staying at had a decent Muslim population and finding halal food was easy.
But after coming back, I realized that for some people, it’s not as easy for them to find halal food in China. It becomes more difficult when they don’t speak the language.
Here’s our quick guide on how you can find halal food in China.
What Is 清真? (Qīngzhēn)
One of the things I noticed was the halal restaurants in China and halal food products have 清真 displayed in their shop or on their product packaging. In fact, you can even find it on some of the products sold in Malaysia. You may have guessed it, 清真 can simply be translated to halal in Chinese.
Can we say that the food and products labelled 清真 are 100% halal and safe for Muslim consumption?
Not exactly. This is where you need to do a bit of digging around. The 2 basic questions you can ask at a Chinese restaurant or food street vendors are,
你是穆斯林吗? (Nǐ shì mùsīlín ma – Are you a Muslim?)
这个是清真的吗(Zhège shì qīngzhēn de ma – Is this halal?)
Now you could ask more questions like whether the food has any non-halal ingredients like 猪肉 (Zhūròu – pig meat), 培根 (Péigēn – bacon), 猪油 (Zhū yóu – pig fat or oil) or 料酒 (Liàojiǔ – cooking wine). You could even ask in English or Arabic, though this may not work all the time. Generally, the locals speak Mandarin Chinese and knowing some basic Chinese would be helpful.
How about buying a product at the store or a supermarket? Or when there’s no one to ask? This brings us to our next point: China halal logos.
Does China Have Any Halal Logos?
China have their own halal logos. These are the ones recognized bytheDepartment of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) – the agency responsible for the Islamic affairs including halal certification in Malaysia.
Shandong Halal Certification Service ( SHC ) 山东哈拉认证服务有限公司 6F North Building No. 86 Jianshe Road Shizhong District Jinan China
Mr. Yusof An Ruicheng (President) Tel / Fax: +86-531-81767296 / 69989121 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com Website: www.ehalal.cn
China Islamic Association No 103 Nanhengxijie Xicheng District Beijing China
Mr. Yang Fa-Ming (President) Mdm Huang WenJian/ Munira Ahmad Tel: + 8610-59313062/ 8610 5931 3067 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website : www.chinaislam.net.cn
ARA Halal Certification Services Centre Inc. 河南伊真哈拉认证服务有限公司 No. 28 Dong Feng Road JinShui District ZhengZhou Henan China 450000
Mdm Ani Zhao Hua (President) Mr. Abdul Rahim Albert Hsiu Tel: +86-155 1554 5789 Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Linxia Halal Food Certification Centre (Gansu) No. 43 Jiefang Road Linxia City Gansu Province 731100
Mr. Ma Dingyuan (Director) Tel: +86 930 6286516 Fax: +86 930 6286806 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.lxhalal.com
Shaanxi Shang Pin Yuan Halal Food & Restaurant Management Limited Company 陕西国际清真认证中心 No.70, Xi Bei Yi Lu, Qing Nian Street, Lian Hu District, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China
Mr. Tie Qunping (CEO) Mr. Tiejiabao Tel : 008618220818091 / 0086 029-88638790 Email: email@example.com
Halal Certification Services Chongqing (HCS) No. 11 Community, Baihe Village, Nanquan Street, Banan District 401120, Chongqing, China
Mr. Mohammed bin Saleh Tel : 86 023 63322976 (Official) / 86 18723479733 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Another way to find halal food in China is to buy food products that are imported from other countries. You can find these at the supermarkets. Just look for the halal logo from their country of origin.
Throughout my stay there, I went to Chinese Muslim restaurants, Arab restaurants, bought halal products, and products that I deem as halal after checking the ingredients list.
Things have certainly changed since my first trip. Nowadays, you can easily find halal Chinese food via mobile apps and some restaurants even provide delivery services.
But if you are ever at a fix, finding the nearest mosque would be the easiest way to find halal food. Usually there’ll be small eateries or food carts around the area selling halal food. Alternatively, you could ask the Muslims and they’d be more than happy to direct you to the nearest halal food joint.
Hope you find this little guide helpful for your next trip to China!
The Chinese New Year weekend started with news about the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Immediately, our attention went to K’s family in China, hoping that everyone would be safe and sound. Alhamdulillah, so far everyone is doing well.
At the time of writing, there was only 1 confirmed case at K’s hometown. Since then, we’ve been hoping and praying there won’t be more to come. This is a major concern to us because although we don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, it’s still the time for most of us to do some travelling and visiting families and friends.
Whether you’re in China, Malaysia, or some other country, please take all the necessary measures to safeguard yourself from contracting this illness.