Tokyo, an urban sprawl filled with things that are so unique, it has been attracting visitors from the world over for decades if not centuries. Intricate culture like the tea ceremony and sumo, architectural marvels that have stood the test of time from castles to shrines and modern wonders that pique the interest or sometimes just confuse. Needless to say, Tokyo is on everyone’s travel wish list.
While food is one of the major highlights for a Tokyo trip from tasting ‘real’ sushi to hopping from intimately small izakaya (bar) to another after a whole day of exploring, Muslim visitor may find it a tad challenging to search for halal restaurants and end up getting fast food from convenience stores or pricey naan and kebabs.
FRET NOT! Follow this food trail of halal restaurants at these famous spots for that authentic Japanese experience:
Side note: Most of the restaurant staff on this list have at least a basic grasp of English and even Bahasa Melayu. If all else fails, Google Translate all the way.
Asakusa – Tokyo’s Old Entertainment District
1. Naritaya Halal Ramen
Like its name suggests, this restaurant is known for serving traditional Japanense ramen. Nestled near the famous Asakusa Temple, Naritaya’s entire menu is halal so you don’t have to worry about kitchen appliances or cutlery being mixed with non-halal products. Broiled chicken is used to substitute roasted pork. The meat may be different, but the rave reviews about this restaurants say it’s hard to tell the difference between the halal alternative and the original version. That says a lot, huh. They also have a small prayer room available upon request.
What to order: Special ramen (JPY1,200), chicken karaage (JPY300)
Operating hours: Monday – Friday 11am till 10pm; Saturday & Sunday 8am till 8pm
Getting there: 10-minute walk from Asakusa Station
While most sushi restaurants in Muslim countries are halal, sushi in Japan, even if it’s fish, uses rice wine called mirin to add flavour to the dish. Even the soy sauce shoyu contains alcohol as preservative. That’s where Sushiken comes in. As the first sushi restaurant granted a halal certification from the Japan Halal Foundation, this restaurant also features a halal-only menu where you can be assured the sushi or shoyu does not contain any alcohol.
What to order: Sushi set (JPY1,300)
Operating hours: Monday – Saturday 11.30am till 2.30pm, 5pm till 11pm; Sunday 11.30am till 2.30pm, 5pm till 9.30pm (Closed on Wednesday)
Getting there: Eight-minute walk from Asakusa Station
Akihabara – Electronic District and Home to Otaku (techie) Culture
3. Ayam-YA Okachimaci
The halal ramen specialists at Ayam-YA Okachimaci serve up tasty dishes like shoyu ramen (soy sauce), shio ramen (salt), tsukumen (cold ramen dipped in soup) and mazamen (dry ramen). For a special kick to your taste buds, order your ramen in their signature spicy chicken broth. How’s this for a deal: all dishes cost under JPY1,000! The restaurant is also close to a mosque called Masjid As-Salaam.
What to order: Spicy Tori Ramen Shoyu (spicy chicken ramen with soy sauce) (JPY850)
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 11.30am till 3pm, 5pm till 10pm
Getting there: Five-minute walk from Okachimachi JR station
4. Panga Yakiniku
When in Tokyo, you can’t miss out on Wagyu beef, because the cattle are from Japan! While a basic meal set in Kuala Lumpur can set you back at least RM100, you can get the same dish for a lot cheaper or at least a much bigger portion and better taste because there’s hardly long shipping involved. Panga Yakiniku is a go-to restaurant among local Muslims where they serve premium halal meat and seasonings for a worry-free grilled goodness. The platters feature different cuts and portions. A meal for two, for example, is the Panga Premium Platter priced at JPY4,980 while a serving for four – the Supreme Platter – sets you back JPY8,500. Patrons say the portions are big so it’s definitely worth the money. The prices may seem expensive, but rest assured they’re a steal compared to paying for the same dish back home. The taste is probably a lot better, too. The meat melts in your mouth! The restaurant also serves udon and Korean dishes like gochujang beef soup and bibimbap.
What to order: Panga Premium Platter for two (JPY4,980), Supreme Platter for four (JPY8,500)
Operating hours: Monday – Saturday 11.30am till 2pm, 5pm till 10.30pm; Sunday 5pm till 10pm
Getting there: 12-minute walk from Okachimachi JR station
5. Laox Akihabara
This place is not exactly a restaurant, but this is where you can find 100% halal Japanese snacks to be taken back home. Being a general duty-free store, all the stuff here are on the cheap, but don’t forget to bring your passport. You’ll find everything at the halal section like udon, soba, ramen, matcha, rice crackers and more on the fourth floor. Prayer room is on the seventh floor.
What to buy: Halal Japanese snacks
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 9am till 7.30pm
Getting there: From Akihabara JR Station, take Electronic Town exit, two-minute walk
Shinjuku – Samurai Museum, Japanese Gardens and Nightlife Izakaya Alleys
6. Gyoen Ramen Ouka
If you’ve had your fair share of chicken and beef ramen, it’s time for some goodness from the sea. This restaurant specialises in sea bream soup where a bowl is also filled with fresh homemade ramen noodles alongside halal wagyu beef and vegetables. Yes, wagyu beef! Each set comes with grilled chicken and yakitori as well. This halal restaurant also has vegan ramen.
Operating hours: Monday – Thursday 3pm till 10pm; Friday 6pm till 10pm; Saturday and Sunday 1pm till 10pm
Getting there: Eight-minute walk from Shinjuku station
7. CoCo Ichibanya Curry House
For the uninitiated, Japanese curry is vastly different compared to the taste we’re used to in Malaysia. So, an obligatory taste test is a must when in Tokyo. CoCo Ichibanya is said to be Japan’s leading curry chain store. Its global presence in China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and the US is enough proof that the dishes rank high on the taste scale. But as with any chain restaurants, the tastiest of them all has to be the original location and for this case, it’s Japan. The curry house in Shinjuku is CoCo Ichibanya’s second halal outlet following the success of the first halal venture in Akihabara. Spice levels are from one to 10, one being for babies and 10 for the biggest, meanest yakuza.
What to order: Karaage curry (fried chicken with curry) (JPY840), chicken katsu curry (JPY950)
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 11am till 10pm
Getting there: Fifteen-minute walk from Shinjuku station
8. Laox Shinjuku
Just like Laox Akihabara, this is not a restaurant, but a duty-free complex where you can shop for halal Japanese snacks as souvenirs like don, soba, ramen, matcha, rice crackers and more. The halal section is on the sixth floor. Prayer rooms are on levels six and seven.
What to buy: Halal Japanese snacks
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 9am till 7.30pm
Getting there: 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station’s east exit
Shibuya – The Famous Crossing, Harajuku’s Cosplayers and Entertainment District
9. Honolu Ebisu
This restaurant, certified halal by Malaysia Halal Corporation, got its name thanks to spicy dishes bursting with umami (a flavour category associated with naturally occuring glutamates). Most ramen are served in salt or halal soy-based chicken broth. Other favourite dishes include Nikkoken chicken gyoza, takoyaki and roast chicken with rice.
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 11.30am till 2.30pm, 5pm till 10pm
Getting there: Seven-minute walk from Ebisu station
Another restaurant with that grilling yakiniku goodness that’ll get you screaming that high-pitched “oishi” (delicious). The restaurant not only serves halal meat, but also comes with that old Tokyo ambiance away from the city’s bustling hot spots just like in the anime series. The meats are all halal, so you just have to choose the cuts which you will then grill on the charcoal stove. Set menus start from JPY3,000. Reservation is a must to avoid disappointment. Although the restaurant provides halal meat, alcohol is also served here. Dine at your own discretion.
Operating hours: Tuesday – Sunday 12pm till 12am; Monday 5pm till 12am
Getting there: Five-minute walk from Shibuya station
Ginza – Premium Shopping District and World’s Biggest Uniqlo Store
11. Ginza Itsuki
For those in need of extra carbs after a long walk, a tempura bowl is the perfect remedy. Imagine chomping down deep-fried food and vegetables on a bed of Japanese rice with a dash of sweet shoyu soy sauce. Just like all halal-certified Japanese restaurants, the ingredients from Ginza Itsuki are Muslim friendly. This restaurant screams value for money as the portion is much bigger than a conventional tempura bowl. Fill your bowl with tempura like prawn, kidney beans, chicken, eggplant, mushroom and even a half-boiled egg. Each set comes with chawan mushi (egg custard), miso soup and Japanese pickles.
Operating hours: Monday – Sunday 11.30am till 2.30am, 5.30pm till 10pm
Getting there: Three-minute walk from Yurakucho station. The restaurant is on the second floor of Ginza Inz shopping mall
If you’re in need of flavours or spiciness closer to home, there are a handful of Malaysian, Indonesian and Middle Eastern restaurants in Tokyo.
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