Muslim-friendly Taiwan winning hearts

Azlan Othman

For Muslim travellers, it can be challenging at times to find Halal meals.

Taiwan has done a good job addressing this, which is one of the reasons why Muslim tourists are increasing. You can easily search for the nearest Muslim eateries in Taiwan using your phone.

An international prepaid sim card is as low as around BND11 or TWD300 for a five-day duration with a 2.0 GB data pack.

With Taiwan’s renewed focus on attracting Muslim travellers, there are also a growing number of hotels that cater to Muslim visitors. These hotels provide copies of Al-Quran, prayer mat, Kiblat (prayer direction) and bidet types of toilet as found in Amba Shongshan Hotel in the heart of Taipei. Evergreen Laurel Hotel and Farm House, both located in Taichung which is about 45 minutes away via high speed train from Taipei, also provide similar facilities.

Dining plates and kitchens are also labelled Halal as food is a big part of Taiwan culture and the number of eateries serving Halal local dishes is increasing.

One highly-recommended restaurant in Taipei is Hui Guan restaurant in Bade road that serves Muslim food from North Western Ningxia in China where the owner of the restaurant, Lee Hai Ron, originates from.

If you’re feeling fancy, treat yourself to an array of Halal Chinese dishes with highly-recommended items ranging from spicy meat skewers, Shomai (traditional Chinese dumpling), Ningxia-style steamed Chicken, crunchy fried fish and succulent mixed vegetables.

When dining at this restaurant, you’ll see the Islamic flair in its interior. The eatery has a Halal certificate issued by Taiwan Chinese Muslim Association CMA.

Overseen by Taiwan’s CMA, Taiwan currently has at least 324 certified Halal restaurants. All of these restaurants have a certificate to prove their Halal status, which is displayed at the entrance.

The Halal certificate found at the entrance of Hui Guan restaurant states that the meal provided by the restaurant fully complies with Syariah law. The restaurant is owned by Muslims. Ningxia-themed dishes will definitely have you craving for seconds.

Another Halal restaurant worth visiting is Kunming Halal restaurant in Shongshan. It offers a selection of mouth-watering cuisines from the Middle East and India at a reasonable price. A lot of Bruneians have visited the restaurant. This is proof with the presence of Brunei currency notes used on the table as decorations.

We tried the lamb curry with potatoes, fried fish and lamb soup. Everything tasted good and even the restaurant owner, a die-hard Liverpool club football fan, served Teh Tarik to the Bruneian journalists, which we really loved. This Chinese Indian fusion restaurant is worth a visit as the food is delicious and affordable.

If you are in Taichung, you should dine at the Turkish restaurant Anatolia which serves delicious chicken, lamb Kebab, Halal pizza, Turkish desserts and so on.

Vegetarian food in Taiwan is rich and varied and there are many local vegetarian dishes available. It certainly does not conform to the misconception of vegetarian food being boring and having limited options.

One such restaurant is M&G Family Leisure Farm located in a vast farmland with a stunning view overlooking Yangmingshan National Park in Taichung.

The Leisure Farm is frequented by Malaysians and Indonesians.

No pesticides are used in this over five hectares of land where fruits and vegetables are hand harvested without any machine.

It is a new concept and not many places have such speciality. The son of the restaurant owner, Raymond said the restaurant serves Muslim-friendly cuisines and is 100 per cent vegetarian.

A wide array of unique food is available including dishes comprising orange mixed with egg, papaya with cheese and fermented soya and herbal tea. Desserts are dragon fruit with edible flower and leaf, all of which are grown in the area. The owner also plans to introduce Yoga and Chi-qong class in the area for spiritual and physical health.

Taiwan continues to welcome Muslim travellers with open arms and is doing everything it can to make visiting Taiwan as easy as possible for them.

It has indeed rolled out the welcome mat to Muslims and it’s an approach that is winning hearts and minds.