JEDDAH: During Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games, Muslim athletes and tourists need not worry about finding halal food in Japan.
Since 2013, the number of halal restaurants has skyrocketed from four to 180, including fine-dining establishments that serve traditional Japanese dishes.
And the popular chain Curry House CoCo Ichibanya opened its halal Akihabara branch in 2017.
The restaurant said: “As people of different religions and cultures visit Japan, we wanted to develop a restaurant where Muslims could enjoy meals free from concern.”
It added that although it was not easy to procure some ingredients, its experience with the halal Akihabara branch will enable them to expand further.
Japanese wagyu beef, which has become a hit in the Arab world due to its rich taste and tenderness, is also being served halal in its country of origin.
Halal Wagyu Yakiniku Panga in Tokyo’s Taito ward branched out of an already accomplished establishment to accommodate halal consumers and to grow the restaurant’s “food culture.”
Sung Gi Hong, director and manager of Panga, told Arab News where it all started: “My sister worked in Indonesia between 2015 and 2017, and when she asked her Muslim friends in Indonesia to come to Japan, they said there was nothing for them to eat because it’s difficult to find halal restaurants in Japan. When we heard this, we thought it was sad because when we travel we want to have local food, but Muslims who come to Japan have trouble finding places where they can eat.”
The restaurant chain has been running since 1999, and gained halal certification in 2015 from the Japan Halal Foundation. Hong said Panga attracts a large number of Muslim customers.
“A lot of people come to try our A5 Premium Wagyu Platter, as it allows them to enjoy a variety of different cuts of quality wagyu beef and sirloin steak,” added Hong.
Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka is another restaurant cooking halal dishes in one of Tokyo’s busiest areas.
“We serve halal and vegan options at Ramen Ouka to help promote mutual understanding,” owner Niuma Megumi Wachi told Arab News.
The restaurant features vegetarian and vegan ramen options for those who want to avoid the traditional pork-based broth.
Other halal outlets in Tokyo include Asakusa Sushi Ken, Sumiyakiya Halal Grill, Hanasaka Ji-san and KO-SO Cafe Biorise.