Hong Kong’s Muslim community makes up just four per cent of the city’s population, but is deeply rooted in its culture and history. Indian sailors and merchants first arrived on ships from the British East India Company back in the 1840s, followed decades later by Chinese immigrants from the southern coasts of the Chinese mainland, and in more recent years by Indonesian domestic workers. Today, the city’s Muslim population includes Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Indonesians and Arabs. That diversity is reflected in Hong Kong’s culinary scene, with more than 60 halal-certified restaurants that serve everything from Cantonese to Middle Eastern dishes, all prepared according to Islamic law. Here’s where to dig into the best halal food in Hong Kong.
Chinese Halal Food
Islamic Centre Canteen
Halal-approved dim sum favourites
No visit to Hong Kong is complete without a dim sum meal, and the Islamic Centre Canteen is the one place to try halal, pork-free versions of these bite-sized dishes. Place your order from a counter stacked high with bamboo steamer baskets that are filled with favourites such as siu mai (dumplings stuffed with chicken instead of the usual pork), har gow (shrimp dumplings), and glutinous rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaf. The canteen is popular with mosque-goers, neighbours and tourists alike, so come early to beat the lunchtime crowds. Conservative dress is required, as there are also prayer rooms in the building.
5/F, Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, 40 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai; +852 2834 8211
Chinese comfort food that’s good for groups
For the quintessential local dining experience, Ma’s Restaurant provides halal Chinese cuisine in a cosy, family-style setting with fast and cheerful service. Ma’s is known for its veal goulash, pan-fried pastry pockets filled with minced meat and soup. Another specialty is the lamb roll, which strikes a delicate balance between sweet and sour. If you’re with a group, the meal sets are very good value for money and give you the chance to sample a bit of everything.
G/F, 21-25 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon; +852 2787 6108
Roast meats served quick and cheap at a food market
Tucked inside a buzzing public food market is Wai Kee, long revered by both locals and visitors for its classic halal Asian fare at wallet-friendly prices. Its signature dish is the roast duck, with a crispy skin to savour along with the succulent meat. The mutton curry is also worth a try, with bold spices and meat so tender it falls off the bone. Tables can get packed during peak hours, but that’s part of Wai Kee’s local charm.
1/F, Bowrington Road Cooked Food Centre, 21 Bowrington Road, Wan Chai; +852 2574 1131
Indian Halal Food
Lamb kebabs and prawn vindaloo to refuel Causeway Bay shoppers
Located just steps from the landmark Times Square is Aladin Mess, a go-to spot for North Indian staples in a relaxed setting. The extensive menu caters to both meat lovers and vegetarians, from the lamb kebab served on a sizzling hot plate to the rich and creamy dal makhani (butter lentils) and a variety of curries. More adventurous eaters can try the prawn vindaloo, made with red chilli peppers for an extra fiery kick. Fluffy, chewy garlic naan and spicy, crispy samosas are the ideal sides.
2/F, 60 Russell Street, Causeway Bay; +852 2808 0250
A fine-dining spot beloved for its Indian buffet lunch
With its convenient location in the Central District and halal menu of Indian classics, Bombay Dreams is an enduring favourite of Hong Kong foodies. Its highly popular lunch buffet is loaded with naan, several varieties of curry and biryani, well-seasoned tandoori grills and traditional desserts, while the substantial a la carte menu features mainstays such as dal tadka, a home-style lentil dish. Everything is created by chefs hailing from India, making for a fully authentic fine-dining experience.
4/F, Carfield Building, 77 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2971 0001
Middle Eastern Halal Food
Lebanese cooking in a refined space with a terrace
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong’s Central District is Sumac, offering fine Lebanese cuisine and al fresco dining on a leafy terrace above the fray of Lan Kwai Fong. The fresh, zesty mezze options include tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush, served with toasted pita bread. Follow those with rack of lamb, marinated overnight and slow-cooked to be exceptionally tender, or choose from assorted grilled meats and seafood. Note that there is a bar on site (equipped with custom-made shisha pipes), but the food is completely halal.
G/F, 8 Glenealy, Central; +852 2147 9191
The Sultan’s Table
Turkish delights from shareable mezze to honey-soaked desserts
Indulge in a Mediterranean feast at the aptly-named The Sultan’s Table, which serves a full spread of hearty, authentic Turkish dishes. Start with some mezzes of vegetable- or yoghurt-based dips served with crusty homemade Turkish bread, then take your pick of juicy kebabs seasoned and grilled to perfection. Leave room for dessert so you can order the melt-in-your-mouth kunefe, a Turkish pastry of fine, crispy dough that’s soaked in honey syrup and layered with cheese and pistachios. Note that the restaurant does serve alcohol, but the food menu is halal.
LG/F, 3-5 Old Bailey Street, Central; +852 2555 7678
South East Asian Halal Food
A chic Causeway Bay spot cooking up Indonesian favourites and fusion
Kampoeng cooks up traditional and fusion Indonsian cuisine in a basement restaurant more charming than that sounds. Savour time-honoured dishes such as gado-gado (mixed salad with peanut-sauce dressing) and beef rendang, a rich beef stew with hints of spices, lemongrass, garlic and ginger. The satay skewers are great for sharing and served slightly charred with two dipping sauces. Quench your thirst with rambutan ice, made with a tropical fruit native to Indonesia. Note that although alcohol is served here, the kitchen adheres to halal guidelines.
B/F, Causeway Bay Commercial Building, 1-5 Sugar Street, Causeway Bay; +852 2488 1492
A quick fix of Malaysian classics within Chungking Mansions
A top fast-food chain in its native Malaysia, Syed Bukhara has a Hong Kong branch located within the maze of stalls inside Tsim Sha Tsui’s Chungking Mansions. This no-frills halal restaurant specialises in generous portions of halal Malaysian cuisine. The nasi lemak with egg is a rice dish that blends spice and creamy sweetness, with fried anchovies adding some crunch. The nasi goreng and biryani are also impressive, with chunks of mutton or chicken flavoured by cloves, nutmeg and cardamom, paired with a huge mound of fragrant basmati rice. If it’s time for prayers after your meal, Kowloon Mosque is just a two-minute walk away.
Shop 15-16, G/F, Chungking Mansions, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; +852 2367 6868