For a country with a significantly minute muslim population, Halal food might be a little hard to come by for the muslim who’s visiting or even living in Saigon. Most muslims would rely on preparing their own meals at home but what if you’re in a rush, or ran out of ingredients?
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Fortunately for the muslims in Saigon, there is a wide variety of Halal food options available, ranging from modified local dishes such as pho, to cuisines of nearby muslim communities from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia to authentic Arabic cuisine. It’s only a matter of which ones are the best for you.
After scouring the city, and speaking to two muslims living in Saigon; a Scottish expat, Karrar Al Hili, and a local Muslim, here are some of their recommendations.
Vietnamese Muslim Cuisine
Vietnamese cuisine is something you should try if you’re in Vietnam for its sheer quality and taste but most Vietnamese dishes are either pork-based, or contain some form of pork. To bridge this gap, there is a place that sells top quality halal pho.
This unassuming restaurant, aptly named “Pho Muslim” is located just a two-minute walk away from the Jamiul Islamiyah mosque, also known locally as Nancy Mosque, at Hem 505 Tran Hung Dao Street.
Open only in the morning for pho, and after 4:00 p.m. for bun bo hue, their signature dishes are reasonably priced and are a huge hit among both muslims and non-muslims.
Noodle dishes aren’t the only available options. The Daun Restaurant located at 132 Bis, Ky Con Street, D.1, right next to Ben Thanh Market, has a menu that includes Vietnamese specialties such as bo xao nam (stir-fried beef with mushrooms) and banh xeo (savoury fried crispy pancakes).
Halal @ Saigon located at 31 Dong Du Street,D.1 is a very popular, albeit slightly pricier option if you’re looking for halal local dishes in a comfortable dining experience. From goi dua tom (coconut milk and shrimp salad) to ngheu kho to (claypot baby clams) to goi cuon tom (fresh shrimp spring rolls), there is also something for you if you’re both a halal eater AND a vegetarian.
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Neighbours Malaysia is a Muslim country and its cuisine, which bears semblance to the cuisines in Indonesia and Singapore can be found across the other countries in Southeast Asia too, including Vietnam.
There are a handful of restaurants opened in Saigon by Malaysians and Singaporeans with Malay and Indian Muslim speciality dishes ranging from Nasi Goreng Kampung(Fried Rice), Mee Goreng Mamak (Indian Fried Noodles) to Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice).
If you like your food spicy and rich, then you’re looking at Malay cuisine.
Probably the most well-known Malay restaurant in Saigon, Kampung Pandan Restaurant at 53 Thu Khoa Huan Street, D.1 serves up an excellent array of Malaysian and Singaporean dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai (Grilled Flat Bread), Red Tilapia Sambal and Rendang (Meat in spicy paste).
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The best part of this restaurant is its authenticity and you know they are doing something right when plenty of Malays make this their restaurant of choice.
Another restaurant worth checking out is D’Nyonya Restaurant located at 56 Dong Du Street, D.1. The establishment serves Peranakan cuisine which is popular in Penang and Malacca in Malaysia, and Singapore.
If you like your food sweet and sour with some spice, the Assam Laksa (Noodles with mackerel in tamarind soup) is highly recommended. Other dishes worth trying are the kueh pie-tee (savoury tart shell) and otak-otak (grilled fish paste with chili).
Other than Halal Vietnamese food, Saigon Green House also serves authentic Malay and Indian Muslim street food dishes commonly found in Malaysia and Singapore such as Nasi Goreng Kampung and Mee Goreng Mamak.
Another delicious aspect of Halal food is Middle-Eastern cuisine and the good news is, there’s plenty of them in Saigon. From Turkish, Lebanese to Syrian, the restaurants in Saigon that serve them are as authentic as they can be.
Zeytun Restaurant located at 185 Bui Vien, D.1 has a menu filled with mouth-watering delights like Pide Pizza Beef, Doner Kebabs, Shawarmas and Baba Ganoush alongside pizzas and Vietnamese specialities like Pho and spring rolls. It’s certainly a place to go to if you really hungry but have no idea what you feel like having.
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Al Sham Saigon at 300 Vo Van Kiet, D.1 is another high quality option with a menu that may not be as diverse, but still packed with authentic goodness from the Middle-East. From Arabic Salads to Shakshuka with Eggs and Shawarma Sandwiches, the restaurant serves Syrian cuisine and has a growing reputation among both locals and expats here.
From Biryanis to Butter Chicken, to Indian Muslim options mentioned earlier, Indian Cuisine is huge in Saigon and the city is home to a handful of high-quality Indian restaurants serving authentic dishes.
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Another popular Indian restaurant in Saigon is Ganesh at 38 Hai Ba Trung, D.1 famous for their special Dum Biryani on Sundays. Another popular dish which is actually quite rare outside India/Nepal is momo, a type of dumpling filled with vegetables, chicken or lamb.
If you like biryani, a notable restaurant which features one of the best biryanis in Saigon is Nabil Biryani House at 249, Le Thanh Tong, D.1. Get a heap of biryani rice and complement it with a variety of curries, with their spicy chicken masala being one of the more popular ones.
Making Your Own
If you prefer to cook your own meals, there are several halal meat shops in Saigon.
Due to the significant Muslim population in District 8, you can find plenty of butchers and shops there specialising in halal meats and food products.
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