The idea for GoHalalVietnam! started on a warm Saigon evening when I met one of my Malaysian friends in 2011. She had met me from my Vietnam blog and was asking for advice on being halal in Saigon. I knew there were many more halal restaurants so I decided to create a website devoted to this endeavor. My friend would even come along with me as I visited some of these restaurants.
In the end I visited over 50 restaurants that claimed to be halal. I also visited a couple halal butchers. In the end only about 10 restaurants were halal. The rest said they were halal but I could not be sure of the source of the meat. Many restaurants also served alcohol and still able to obtain halal certification.
This was the state of the halal industry in Vietnam back in 2011. At that time, you could even find halal-certified pork! Still, I was able to provide a list of restaurants to Muslim tourists. By 2014, many more restaurants painted halal on their signs without proper certifications. Then several of my Muslim friends and I finally came to this reality:
The amount of halal restaurants in Saigon and the halal food they provided exceeded the amount of halal meat, domestically or imported, that was available at the time. “Halal” tour agencies will ask halal restaurants to replace the expensive halal meat with cheaper non-halal substitutes.
Thus, GoHalalVietnam!‘s halal list of restaurants became smaller. Inshallah, with the new arriving Muslims into Vietnam, the list of halal restaurants will increase again.
Definition of "Halal" Confusion
It is "common knowledge" that halal means just the meat must be halal. So when you ask a restaurant if they are halal, the restaurant will answer yes if their meat has halal certification. There is no consideration about whether the ingredients contain pork, alcohol, or other haram products. Cleanliness of the kitchens is another issue. This is a common problem for Muslims visiting non-Muslim countries around the world.
2020-2021 Covid-19 Realities
The current Covid-19 devastated the halal restaurant industry in Vietnam. Yet several restaurants survived. These were the restaurants that catered to the local Muslim community already. GoHalalVietnam! goal is to find a way to support these restaurants when Vietnam opens up again.
Kerim Nur, Founder of GoHalalVietnam!
New Halal Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City
There is larger Muslim Expatriate community in Ho Chi Minh City now. With this new community came new Middle Eastern and Arabic restaurants. Many are butchering their own meat to abide by halal requirements. We will add these restaurants gradually by the summer of 2021. You will be able to see this list at the Halal in Saigon page.