Ximending (photo credit: Sasimoto)
Taiwan is deservedly one of Asia’s most attractive destinations, with an exciting cityscape, great shopping, fantastic food and an idyllic countryside to boot. But as a nation where most people speak mandarin and pork features heavily on menus, visiting Taiwan as a muslim can feel a bit daunting. After all, if all you know in mandarin is “Wo ai ni” or “Ni hao ma?” who knows what you’re ordering? However, muslim travel to Taiwan is certainly much easier than it seems, providing you travel prepared! Here’s a little guide to Taiwan for all our Muslim readers, beginning with food. (We have just updated the article as of 6 Sept 2016 and the information is still correct)
If you’re looking for Muslim friendly hotels in Taipei, check out our Top 3 Muslim-Friendly Hotels in Taipei:
Is it halal?
Coming from the land of ‘Xiao long bao’, you may be surprised to discover that Taiwan has not one, but two halal certification boards. The Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association (THID) and the Chinese Muslim Association have both taken up the mantle of Halal watchdog. Though slightly different in their classification (the Chinese Muslim Association differentiates “halal restaurants”; restaurants owned by Muslims, and “Muslim friendly restaurants”; restaurants owned by non-Muslims), both are fully Halal certified and safe for muslims to enjoy. The associations also certify food products sold in supermarkets, so look out for the halal label if you’re planning to cook your own meals!
Taiwan boasts a surprising range of halal food options covering cuisines as varied as Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian and even Egyptian! The Chinese Muslim Association of Taiwan carries a list of Halal or Muslim friendly restaurants on its website which covers all types of cuisine, and is definitely worth printing out before you leave.
Muslim food is easier to find in more cosmopolitan Taipei, and some highly rated restaurants include Yun Tai Muslim Food (No.4 Wenzhou Street, Da’an District), which serves up halal Thai and Yunnanese cuisine, and Chungkuo Beef Restaurant (No.1 Alley 7 Lane 137, Yian-Chi Street) which cooks with no pork, lard or alcohol, and, according to reviews, keeps both your pocket and your tummy happy. For something a little different, one may also like to try Pharaoh’s (No.28 Taishun Street, Da’an District, Taipei City 106) which serves halal Egyptian food.
What to order?
That said, it may still be a little difficult to find halal certified restaurants if you’re venturing out of Taipei, especially in the more rural areas. This is where you should whip out your English to Mandarin translator app, and start trying to find (and pronounce!) the most grammatically correct way to ask “Is there pork or lard?” For future reference, it’s “这有没有猪肉或猪油?” (zhe you mei you zhu rou huo zhu you) and asking if something is halal is “这个食物是不是清真的吗?” (Zhe ge shi wu shi bu shi qing zhen de ma).
If all else fails, you can ride on Taiwan’s robust vegetarian community – many Taiwanese are vegetarian for religious reasons, and the country boasts some of the best vegetarian cuisine to satisfy even the most carnivorous of visitors. This is also a great way to make sure there isn’t any pork or lard in your meals.
A warning for street food: most of the meats are probably cooked with lard, so you may want to try asking the vendors as a precaution, or ordering the numerous tasty vegetarian dishes instead.
If at any time during your trip you feel lost, get in touch with the Chinese Muslim Association at 62, sec. 2, Xinsheng S. Rd., Taipei City, or call them at (02)2392-7364. They’re always happy to help a fellow muslim out.
Finally, if you’re looking for Muslim friendly hotels in Taipei, check out our Top 3 Muslim-Friendly Hotels in Taipei:
This article is supported by the Taiwan Tourism Board.