The other day, I met with four young Muslim men from Florida, on their first-ever visit to Japan. They were sitting in a Malaysian restaurant called Malaychan in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. They told me that, sometimes, it was pretty difficult for them to determine whether they were actually consuming Halal food whenever they visited a restaurant even in the US. But, they seemed to be happy that they were able to find a Halal restaurant in Japan without much difficulty.
Of course, not all of us can ABSOLUTELY guarantee whether the food we consume in restaurants or at home is actually Halal, meaning that their consumption or use does not break any of the strictures of Islam. Why so?
There are a lot of so-called Halal restaurants out there in every part of the world which do not care much about what they offer to their customers. It is true for small restaurants as well as for large ones. Even some Muslim owners also fall into this same sad category of ignorants.
Unfortunately, most Japanese restaurants in Japan use wine or sake while cooking their cuisines. They do not consider it haram. Some other restaurant owners in the country think that ham and beacons are not meat. That is especially ridiculous as both these items are clearly pork meat.
We had written on a similar issue here.
You, as an informed consumer, can greatly minimize the chance of consuming haram food when you go visit a restaurant where you are not sure about whether they serve Halal food or not. Moreover, the following information may help you determine whether the food they serve is actually Halal even out of Japan.
You simply need to ask the following questions to make sure that you are going to eat what you want to and nothing else. I have listed some of the questions which you may want to ask when you enter a restaurant that claims to offer Halal food.
Questions to Ask to Verify Whether Food Products Are Halal
- Do they have a Muslim staff member or owner who could answer the following questions? If they do not know what Halal even means, then you know what you need to know.
- What food items in their restaurant are Halal? Are these food items Halal-certified?
- Do they store the Halal chicken or mutton along with other non-Halal items or separately, in the same refrigerator or in a different one?
- Do they use separate cooking utensils for Halal vs haram dishes? For example, cutting boards, knives, frying pans, other cooking pots, etc.
- If they serve both Halal and haram dishes do they have a separate space in their kitchen used for preparing Halal dishes ONLY?
- Which cooking oil do they use for cooking purposes, salad oil or non-salad one?
- Do they use mirin, a type of spice that contains haram ingredients from pork
- Do they offer Halal salad dressing? If not simply ask them to serve salad without any dressing on top of it.
The above-mentioned questions may help you determine whether you are going to actually eat Halal food in the restaurant in question. However, you may want to ask them further questions if you are still in doubt.
If you are not satisfied even after asking all these questions you may want to find another restaurant. But, if they say they are Muslim and the foods being served on their premises are Halal please trust them, eat your food and leave the rest to Allah.