It’s Ramadan again! As previously featured on Localhood, Ramadan is a sacred time where Muslims around the world are mandated to abstain from food and drink during daylight hours. Through control of appetite and thirst, believers are vicariously encouraged to be mindful of their thoughts and deeds. It is also a month where Muslims reset themselves from the accumulation of distractions and desires throughout the year.
However, as I go 14 hours a day without food or drink (yes, not even water), my mind inevitably turns to food.
As a Muslim, I have to be conscious about which places I frequent when eating outside as I have to keep it halal - this generally entails avoiding pork and alcohol, and consuming meat only from blessed and humanely slaughtered animals - and in Hong Kong, Chinese cuisine is notorious for slipping in bits of minced pork or lard into dishes that look innocently vegetarian!
Below are a list of my favourite local eateries that are halal or halal-friendly and offer delicious dishes to break fast during and outside of Ramadan.
BA YI RESTAURANT
Address: G/F, 43 Water Street, Sai Ying Pun, Western District
(Photo credit: Openrice user wander2wonder)
Ba Yi has been a fixture on Water Street in Sai Ying Pun for many years now. The small family-run restaurant (with a cat watching over the cashier) serves Xinjiang cuisine and is perfect for lamb lovers. The dishes are all sprinkled with beautiful amounts of cumin. I particularly love how the roasted lamb leg is soft and tender with the meat falling delicately from the bone. Its classic shredded potato is always refreshingly crispy, sour and spicy.
Reservation in advance on Friday or weekend evenings is recommended as even during the COVID restrictions you would find queues of people waiting outside to get takeaway.
(Photo credit: Openrice user RheaChim)
Address: Shop E, G/F, Garley Building, 45-53A Graham Street, Central
(Photo credit: Openrice user Love.to.eat)
Loveat is a relatively new addition to the Central and Western restaurants and is the first Iranian restaurant in Hong Kong. The restaurant is opened by native Iranians and serves authentic Persian cuisine such as saffron rice, dolmeh (stuffed vine leaves) and doogh (Persian salty yoghurt). I love visiting Loveat because it brings me back to one of my favourite trips abroad to Tehran.
My favourite dish is the mirza ghasemi, made of grilled smoked aubergine, tomato and garlic. A close second is the saffron joojeh kabab, a BBQ grilled marinated chicken breast with saffron. I am not usually a fan of chicken breast, but the ones in this dish are juicy, tender and packed with flavour.
(Photo credit: Openrice user PhilosVa)
In terms of decorations, I appreciate how an entire wall of the restaurant is decorated in mirror shards (Āina-kāri), a prominently Persian form of decoration which decks the interiors of many great pieces of architecture in Iran. Elements of this craft have been attributed to Venetian glassmakers invited to Iran by Shah ʿAbbās I in the 17th century.
I consider Loveat a rising star and would wish to see it expand its menu in due course.
Address: 1 Lung Kong Road, Kowloon City
One can’t mention halal food in Hong Kong without mentioning Islam Food in Kowloon City. Known for its “bursting sauce” beef goulash, the restaurant has been around for over 70 years and is a favourite amongst locals. The original restaurant has a wall plastered with many photos of the celebrities who have visited over the years.
(Photo credit: Openrice user Chiuyu118)
Islam Food serves halal Shanghainese and northwestern Chinese food. Perhaps its interior is not decorated in a particularly flashy manner, but it is definitely one of the few remaining places in Hong Kong that is good value for money. While they are most famous for their dumplings of various forms and meat cold cuts, my favourite dishes are the noodle dishes: spicy peanut dam dam noodles and chicken shred glass noodles.
(Photo credit: Openrice user cowing)
There is a separate branch in a parallel street to the original restaurant that is spacious and great for larger (COVID-friendly) family gatherings.
Address: 10/F, 11 Stanley Street, Central
VeggieSF is a San Francisco 1950s diner themed restaurant, serving a large variety of vegan and vegetarian food. Located in the heart of Central, it is always convenient to pop by after work in time to break my fast when the sun sets.
(Photo credit: Openrice user seline25)
I am a massive fan of the Soi Nam Chick’n Rice - an interpretation of the classic Hoi Nam Chicken Rice. Trip to Bali also offers a massive plateful of flavours with a rich coconut cream rice. With a nice, cosy interior, I frequently bring my friends and colleagues to VeggieSF, and even those who are resistant to eating meals without meat leave satisfied.
(Photo credit: Openrice user vegetarian.hk)
Address: Shops 01-G07, G/F, Headquarters Block, Tai Kwun (Former Central Police Station), 10 Hollywood Road, Central or G/F, The K.S. Lo Gallery, Hong Kong Park, Admiralty, H.K., Admiralty.
(Photo credit: Openrice user hksc88)
Lockcha is the perfect place to go when you feel like having something healthy with milder flavours but still looking pretty and exquisite. Lockcha offers vegetarian Guangdong dishes, including classic dim sum such as vegetarian siu mai and siu long bao. The dishes they offer are more Ramadan friendly since you won’t be left thirsty the next day from all the seasoning in the dishes.
(Photo credit: Openrice user MsLau)
Lockcha is also a teahouse. Offering an array of green tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong tea, red tea and flower teas, the restaurant is a great spot to have a seat and relax - perhaps between breaking fast and going to offer night time prayers in Ramadan.