Updated: Nov 5
One of the most surprising halal-friendly destinations for me was South Korea. Depending on where you are in the country, halal food may not be widely available, but there are still some options everywhere you go.
I was thrilled to see the dedication and efforts made to make Korea a Muslim-friendly destination. The Korean Tourism Organization even has accessible e-books on its website with Muslim-friendly restaurants and maps. You can find an example here.
I hope to see more countries follow suit and find that this is a huge potential for the Halal market, especially since Halal Tourism is on the rise and is expected to reach $6044.5 billion by 2030.
Throughout my two-week journey across South Korea, I tried a lot of the halal restaurants and have compiled my experiences into a blog, to get a better idea of what to expect, what to try, and my top recommendations. You can also find a sneak peek in my reel here.
While walking in the streets of Seoul, I came across two Salam Seoul volunteers and was given a halal map with restaurant recommendations (and in which areas to find them). As I'm a visual person, I highly appreciated the gesture and kept the map for future trips to Seoul.
1. EID Halal Korean Food
This restaurant is located in Itaewon and is one of the most popular halal-certified restaurants. On the menu, you can find a range of Korean food, but I opted in for Korean Fried Chicken, as it's something I knew I wanted to try on my trip. The portion was generous. The chicken itself was well-seasoned and delicious. I was only disappointed that the lychee juice I ordered was just overpriced boxed juice.
I found the restaurant to be nicely decorated, with very friendly staff. I also liked that they had a prayer space. This restaurant can also get quite busy. I liked the cleanliness of the restaurant and overall, the dining experience was great with an excellent quality of a meal served. The price was also quite reasonable, as the Korean Fried Chicken cost me under $20.
2. Yang Good
If there is one restaurant I would fly back to Seoul for, it would be this one. Yang Good is a Halal Korean BBQ spot.
They source their meats from Australia. The restaurant is quite popular and can get busy, thus I recommend going early. We managed to get a seat for an early dinner seating.
We were told we had to order a minimum of two meats and chose the lamb and marinated chicken. We also ordered lamb soup on the side, which had a kick of spice but tasted amazing nevertheless. Our only regret was not ordering more before leaving, though we thought about it. We had the best dining experience and the most delicious food here.
Our total came to approximately $50 CAD and cost us $25 per person. This restaurant was my favorite stop on my trip, though it took a steep walk up the hill from the bus stop to get there. It was worth every step.
3. Busan Jib Restaurant
Tucked in the narrow alleys in the bustling streets of Myeongdong, you will find another halal restaurant: Busan Jib. Do note that Busan Jib is located in one of the narrower alleys and it may be a little harder to find.
What's interesting about Busan Jib is that they have 3 restaurants side-by-side, each specializing in its own dishes. There is a Busan Jib just for Korean Fried Chicken, one for Korean BBQ, and their first location, which is a casual eatery serving homemade-like dishes.
I ordered fried rice, which I found included a lot of rice, but not enough meat. However, I quite enjoyed the taste of the food and the comfort it brings. I also found this spot to be quite affordable compared to some of the other restaurants I tried on my trip. The fried rice cost me less than $15 and was enough for our party of 2.
4. Hajj Restaurant
This was the first restaurant I tried in Seoul. Hajj serves both Indonesian and Korean cuisine. The setup was interesting to me as we were not allowed inside the restaurant, but instead, we were seated at the table outside and a fan was placed by the door. The menu was brought out to the table. Personally, I found the food to be too oily for my liking.
I ordered a seafood pancake. There was a lot of seafood in the batter of the pancake, though the pancake itself was quite thin and oily. I didn't find much flavor or seasonings added, but rather the taste was only coming from the seafood meat.
1. Warung Jaya Mbak Tia
This restaurant specializes in Indonesian cuisine. It is located on the second floor of a building in an alley, inside a grocery store. I'd say it feels more like one of those hole-in-the-wall restaurants. This spot was delicious and affordable, despite taking a little longer for the food to be ready.
2. Bombay Brau
Perhaps my least favourite stop on this trip, Bombay Brau serves Indian cuisine.
Now you're probably wondering why would I come to Korea and not eat just Korean food. As previously mentioned, depending on where you go in the country, you may be more limited with halal options, which is why we opted for other cuisines, other than Korean, as they're halal.
This restaurant is also on the second floor, and as it is a "corner" restaurant, you get a great view of the street, and makes a wonderful people-watching spot. We opted for the butter chicken with naan and got a kiwi lassi as a drink. It was the first time that I'd seen lassi being offered with kiwi, instead of mango or just as a plain lassi. It was surprisingly OK in taste, and I found the naan to be very soft and fresh. The butter chicken was just alright, with lots of sauce and not enough chicken. Additionally, the portion was quite small for the price we paid ($17).
1. Wardah Restaurant
This Yemeni restaurant was the first place we went to as soon as we landed in Jeju. It is located near the airport. Parking was a little challenging to find at first, but I liked the ambiance inside the restaurant. The servers were very nice, and the food took a little long to be ready, but it was packed with spice and flavor. I also came across an article, detailing a little more about the story of the place.
I ordered two dishes to try, one of which was the agdah chicken and flat bread. The agdah chicken was interesting, as it was a stew-like dish with all ingredients mixed together. It was way too spicy for my liking, yet I somehow couldn't waste it, as it was delicious.
2. Jeju Ttukbaegi
This spot serves authentic Korean food and is listed as halal-friendly. They do not have any meat items on the menu, but they specialize in seafood. We placed an order for the abalone fish and were treated to a scrumptious feast.
There were many side dishes included. The fish was well-cooked and didn't smell or taste too fishy, which I liked a lot. The restaurant can get quite busy as well. Portions are very generous and I found it hard to finish, despite sharing the meal with a +1.
I spent two weeks in South Korea and though I wanted to try more spots, I didn't have time for it. Most of my other meals were stops at cafes for a treat or something light. Stay tuned for a full blog post on all the cafes I checked out on my trip! (p.s: there are a LOT!)
Even though my best friend is not Muslim, she was willing to check out all these halal-friendly/halal-certified restaurants with me, which I really appreciated.
Food is truly a universal language and has ways of bringing us together despite our differences.
Is finding Halal food on your trip important for you? Let me know!