Hong Kong may have an international reputation as a food paradise, but eating out in the Fragrant Harbour can be hard for those with dietary restrictions, whether they’re for religious or health reasons.
From char siu to dumplings, pork is ubiquitous in Cantonese cuisine, including our beloved dim sum. However, as consuming pork and all pig derivatives is forbidden in Islam, Muslims living in Hong Kong can often encounter difficulty finding restaurants that serve Halal (or “permissible”) food.
The exterior of the mosque
Hidden in a mosque in Wan Chai is a culinary refuge for Muslims who love Chinese food. Touting itself as the “only place in Hong Kong to serve Halal Cantonese food”, the Islamic Centre Canteen serves dim sum as well as traditional Chinese dishes like 炸子雞 (“crispy fried chicken”). Here, all the pork dishes are replaced by either chicken or beef.
The entrance of the canteen
As the owner of the canteen is also a Muslim, the Islamic Union “rented” the entire 5th floor out to him for free on only one condition: that food prices must be fixed. As a result, the food here is much cheaper than you’d expect, with dim sum dishes costing between HKD13 to HKD23.
Steaming baskets of dim sum stacked up on the buffet table
The canteen attracts not only mosque-goers, but also office ladies working in the neighbourhood, and travellers looking for affordable yet authentic Chinese food. Every Friday, the day of Jumu’ah – when congregational prayers are held in the mosque – the canteen offers milk tea and curry dishes to worshippers for free.
Diners at the canteen enjoying a Sunday yum cha session
While the restaurant is usually packed to the rafters, its placement within the mosque means that many diners will put down their chopsticks and head to the prayer hall once “azan” (the prayer call) is heard coming from the loudspeakers. If you want to observe a melting pot of both Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures (and fill your belly while you’re at it), head down to the Islamic Centre Canteen for a unique experience you won’t forget.
Dress code: Conservative
Opening hours: 10am – 9pm, dim sum only available during lunch hours
Address: Islamic Centre Canteen, 5/F, Masjid Ammar And Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, 40 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai (Google Maps)
Photos/Words: Rafiaa Rumjahn
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