There has been an increasing interest in halal food worldwide as the Muslim population grows and some opt for a halal diet for its health and ethical aspects. When eating halal, one can only consume certain foods and animals. When it comes to meat, it needs to be prepared under stringent conditions having to do with the health, treatment and slaughter of the animal.
Japan is a destination known for its food culture, which can come with its fair share of challenges for those who eat halal. Many traditional Japanese dishes contain haram ingredients, such as pork.
In This Guide
- Tips for Eating Halal in Japan
- Popular Halal Japanese Dishes
- Halal Restaurants in Japan
- Halal Food Experiences in Japan
- Resources For Muslim Travelers in Japan
How hard is it to find halal food in Japan?
As more Muslim travelers visit the country, many options for eating halal in Japan are becoming available. You can find halal-certified and halal-friendly restaurants in major cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, and many supermarkets and convenience stores now carry halal products.
It's rarely easy to travel when subscribing to a specific diet. Still, this guide will provide essential tips and tricks to find and enjoy halal food in Japan, including halal restaurants and halal experiences.
There are tons of options in Tokyo. Shibuya Ward is home to the Tokyo Camii Mosque, which also runs the Tokyo Camii Halal Market. Notable halal restaurants in Tokyo include Ayam-Ya Okachimachi, Naritaya Halal Ramen and Sushi Ken, to name a few. Those with a sweet tooth should stop by Nakahora Farm in Ginza to get halal-certified ice cream, yogurt and pudding.
Tips For Eating Halal in Japan
Some restaurants serve halal Japanese dishes, such as tempura and udon, made with halal-certified ingredients, and select supermarkets and convenience stores in major cities sometimes carry halal products, including snacks, instant noodles and sushi. This said, it's still good practice to double-check the ingredients list to make sure products are genuinely halal. With some planning and preparation, enjoying a range of delicious food when visiting Japan is possible!
Below are some tips for eating halal food in Japan.
Research Halal Food Options
While you're still in the planning phase, make some time to research the Japanese cities and regions you plan on visiting. Several online resources, such as Halal Gourmet Japan and Halal Media Japan, provide information on restaurants in different areas of Japan.
Look Out For Halal Certifications
When dining out, look out for official certifications from reputable halal certifying groups such as the Japan Muslim Association or Nippon Asia Halal Association. This is a sure way to know the food is prepared and served following Islamic dietary laws.
Check Ingredients Carefully
When buying packaged food, check the ingredients list carefully to ensure the product is halal. Use Google Translate or the Halal Japan app to translate ingredients or scan barcodes to get detailed breakdowns.
Learn Some Basic Japanese Phrases
Whether you're visiting for one week or one month, it's handy to have a few Japanese phrases up your sleeve when ordering food and communicating with restaurant staff. Google Translate can help you here, too, but it can happen that cell service drops unexpectedly.
Carry Halal Snacks
To avoid being caught without food, make it a habit to carry halal snacks and instant foods. Bigger convenience stores have small dining areas, free hot water and microwaves. This tip is a lifesaver when traveling to areas with limited food options.
Popular Halal Japanese Dishes
While there is no Japanese dish or food that is definitely and undoubtedly halal, you can find many Japanese staples that were made using halal-certified or halal-friendly ingredients. Here are a few:
Most travelers might be familiar with tonkotsu ramen, a rich pork-bone broth ramen. But there are many different types of ramen in Japan, including vegetarian and seafood ramen, and it's a dish that can easily be prepared using halal ingredients without sacrificing the dining experience. Tokyo has its fair share of options. Check out our guide to the best halal ramen joints to get started.
Tempura is a safer bet when it comes to halal Japanese dishes. Ingredients, which can include meat but are more commonly vegetables and seafood, are generally okay to consume. We still recommend confirming with the restaurant staff to be sure.
Another popular noodle dish in Japan, soba is safe to eat on its own, only made using buckwheat flour and water. You'll need to confirm the ingredients of this broth (if eating warm soba), dipping sauce (if eating cold soba), and any toppings you may want to add.
Yakitori, or grilled chicken skewers, is a quick, tasty meal and one of Japan's best street food. Halal yakitori uses halal-certified chicken and avoids haram ingredients such as sake and mirin (rice wine). Remember to check if the sauces used are also halal-certified.
Sushi is made with vinegared rice, seafood and, occasionally, vegetables. Halal sushi is made with halal-certified ingredients and avoids haram ingredients such as mirin and dashi. Check out our list of halal sushi restaurants in Tokyo for specific recommendations.
Japanese-style curry is a classic comfort food boasting a spicy savory sauce served over a bed of rice. The popular chain Coco Ichibanya has two halal-certified restaurants in Tokyo, one in Akihabara and another in Shinjuku. Note that other Coco Ichibanya locations are not halal-certified.
Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish consisting of thinly sliced meat, often lamb or beef, and vegetables simmered in a flavorful broth. With halal meats and the standard buffet of vegetables, it's an excellent and comforting dish in the colder months!
Wagyu beef needs no introduction. This Japanese meat is highly prized for its tenderness and flavor. Your run-of-the-mill wagyu is prepared using haram ingredients. But worry not; there are some halal-certified wagyu beef restaurants.
Karaage is Japan's take on fried chicken. Generally, it's made with boneless chicken seasoned with soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Some karaage is also made with mirin, so be wary and double-check before ordering!
Halal Restaurants in Japan
While you'll have an easier time eating out in bigger cities, below are five Muslim-friendly establishments from around Japan.
Halal Wagyu Yakiniku PANGA (Tokyo)
Noticing a distinct lack of dining options for Muslim diners in Tokyo, Halal Wagyu Yakiniku PANGA in Ueno took the initiative to get halal certification to accommodate Muslim residents and visitors to the city. To do this, the owner collaborated with the imam of Tokyo's As-Salaam Mosque. Together, they devised a plan: the restaurant would source premium wagyu cattle from a farmer in Iwate, transport them to Tokyo, and then have them processed in strict halal fashion.
Natural Food Cafe Con Brio (Yamanashi)
Located northeast of Mt. Fuji, Natural Food Cafe Con Brio was first opened as a jazz cafe by the current owner's late father, a passionate jazz lover. The cafe's interior demonstrates the late owner's love for the music genre.
In terms of the food, most of their dishes are primarily vegan and vegetarian. There are also many offerings of halal-friendly dishes that do not have alcohol. The pita bread sandwich and soy milk potage set are all delicious and very healthy. They also have plenty of vegan-friendly desserts, such as black goma, soy milk ice cream and pound cake.
Cafe 369 (Chiba)
Cafe 369 is a vegan cafe in Chiba where you can refresh your mind and body; all the dishes use locally-grown organic ingredients. All dishes are vegan, made using locally-grown organic vegetables and carefully selected spices and seasonings.
Sweet & Peace (Chiba)
Sweet & Peace is another vegan restaurant in Chiba that serves compassionate meals concerning health, animal lives, and the earth.
The restaurant's signature items include Chinese spice curry, taco rice, and lunch plate. The restaurant's motto is "vegan cuisine for everyone."
Ajikitcho Horie (Osaka)
Chef Ryusuke Nakatani cooks with a local ethos, aiming to represent and enrich Osakan dining culture in everything he cooks. It's not all about tradition, however. He also has a very forward-thinking attitude, which means he is more than happy to accommodate any particular dining requirements you might have (just be sure to mention it at the time of reservation).
Ajikitcho Horie has a Muslim-friendly set menu, with no pork or pork derivatives included. Please note that this does not mean that the restaurant is halal certified, only that the chef assures the absence of pork products on this menu.
Resources for Muslim Travelers in Japan
Whether you're visiting Japan for the first or third time, staying updated on what options are available to Muslim travelers is always good. Check out these resources to supplement your research:
A halal diet is more than just dietary restrictions or religious rules. It is a way of life that promotes mindfulness, compassion and respect for all living beings. With the growing awareness of halal food in Japan, it's expected that restaurants and municipalities will work toward providing travelers and residents with plenty of options, making it easier for all to enjoy diverse and delicious cuisine.