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Are there enough Halal food outlets in Singapore?
  • I refer to your articles and opinions page on the Internet regarding the availability of halal food in Singapore. This question, to me, has to be considered in light of the location of eating places, and the quality, variety and price of food available.

    I have found that, generally, halal food is not to be found in great variety in places which are not mainly frequented by Muslims. Sometimes the available food is not particularly appetising, and sometimes just mee siam or mee rebus costs what I would pay for a larger meal at other stalls at the same location. Apart from looking for another place to eat, which is not always practicable, there is not much else to do.

    AWARENESS is one of the prerequisites to having more halal food outlets all around Singapore. I believe your magazine is one way in which knowledge of what "halal" means and requires may be spread. Eatery owners may not know of the potential customers who live around them, or of the availability of halal products including "ham" and salami from distributors. Non-Muslim customers may also have unfounded reservations about eating at halal outlets.

    BENEFITS from "going halal" are certainly there, but many may not be aware of them, or care if they do. Offering halal food does not only attract Muslims, but also their non-Muslim friends and family. Food and relationships are significantly linked in our cultures, and having more halal food available brings more than mere economic profit.

    COMMITMENT must be made. This is probably the hardest part of it. Our country, as well as Islam, supports freedom. There is no issue as regards obligation or "fairness". People are free to sell whatever food they want. They also face the possible loss of existing customers, for whatever reasons, if they make changes. Consumers can nevertheless do something. They can make requests, provide information and encouragement, and support halal food outlets which are selling good food.

    I would be delighted if good halal food were more available. We have Far East, Café Vienna, Amiran's, some fast food, and many other restaurants, stalls and coffeeshops. Here's to many more!

    Darrell Tan
    11 Jun 99

  • Well I am not really that satisfied yet with the array of food available for muslims just yet (that is why I break rules and eat at non-halal outlets.....sinful me! But non pork of course). I would love to see more Chinese food variety. I would kill to taste a halal 'Bak-Chang', 'Lap Chiong', Mooncake.....etc. And also more Italian food too!
  • I am a Muslim. Being a food lover, I would like to taste all good food especially Western Food, like Italian, Mexican, etc. Unfortunately, most of these outlet are not Halal. I would not break any rules. If its not Halal I would not eat it. Most people has the wrong knowledge that as long as the food doesn't contain pork it is okay to eat. Actually, we cannot eat using utensils that are used to eat or cooked or contained pork. If you used the refrigerator to keep pork inside, we cannot use it too. Therefore, these stalls or eating outlet sometimes say that their food is halal but they do not know the truth. I think all Singaporean must be taught this fact since we are living in this multi-racial community. It does seem unfair to us Muslim when we go to a hawker centre. Most of the food there are not halal. Therefore we have to make do with the Halal one. If the food is good, then its okay but if its not then we have even lesser choice of food.
    Why can't a Chinese stall sell halal food ( get permission from MUIS). They will have more customers. Must they sell pork? Can they do without it? - khaziah
  • I really enjoy the food back home, the wide varieties and so on, but the very thought of making chinese food or the like 'halal' really to me will kill the originality of the food and TASTE!!!
    The very simple reason for example is; fried kway teow, cannot be made 'tastier' or rather maintain it's taste thru substituting the use of vegetable oil (for health reasons?), the same will be true in making food halal, certain essential ingredients will need to be substituted and this will kill the taste.
    So please for heavens sake, compromises in this will compromises the quality and taste of our Singaporean food. If this can be done, Malaysia would have done it. Also why sacrifice our ethnic cookery methods? for the sake of making food halal for a mere few?? Try making halal 'Bah Kut Teh' - Stupid yeah???
    Editor's Reply:
    I agree with you how certain "ethnic and authentic" taste could be lost through compromise, and that's truely a crime! However, nothing ever stays the same. Cultures evolve, so does food. What we find at the hawker centres today are adaptations that have been perfected. Eg. Hainanese Chicken rice doesn't taste quite like it back in Hainan, nor are roti pratas in India. Nonya food is yet another example of a wonderful adaptation! My point is: no venture no gain. Let the experiments go on! and yes, I'd be the first to queue up for the first "Halal Bah Kut Teh"! Who cares if it's pork if it's good!!
    Don't worry, the really shiok stuff will survive, pork fat, cockles and all. If they don't, it only means that taste and attitude have changed. Don't you think so?
  • I definitely agree that there is NOT enough halal food outlets in Singapore. Unlike the one who shared his/her view, I do not eat at non-halal places even if they serve no pork. I guess I'm a lot more observant. And there are a LOT like me. But, that's not the point. The point is, there's sooooo few halal food outlets in Singapore - especially the middle-class to upmarket version, save for a few.. such as Cafe Vienna at Crowne Plaza. How about reasonably priced Western food in air-conditioned comfort??! Where can I get them? Or, a cafe which serves not only nice coffee, but *confirmed halal* pastries. You know.. the DElifrance sorta place. Oh man.. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Another grievance: Will Kenny Rogers go halal??
    The Halal Consumer
  • I find that the variety of Halal and good Chinese food in Singapore is really limited, though I did come across several halal Chinese resturants in Far East Plaza. I must say it was a great try for theem. However, I have always felt that in such a competitive society such as Singapore, it is actually more profitable for stall owners to go halal so as to capture the food loving Muslim community and allow them a taste of other culture, halal of course. I love italian food and am glad that Pizza Hut is going halal, now I have one more place to go to! - siewtiang chew
  • I am not very pleased at the number of 'halal' food outlets in Singapore, and also many non-Muslims ignorance on the term 'halal'. Some of the food outlets offer food which seems 'halal' due to the fact that pork is not served. However, whether the food is 'halal' or not is NOT ONLY determined whether pork is in the food itself. There are other aspects as well, whether the oil contains lard, or was previously cooked with lard, whether the utensils had ever been used to cook non-halal food, the storage of food ingredients together with pork or alcohol, etc. Yes, it may seem cumbersome or meticulous, but it is a strict requirement in Islam for Muslims to consume 'halal' food only. What I don't understand is why some restaurants etc simply don't pursue the 'halal' certification from MUIS when all the food served seems 'halal'. An example is Long John Silver's, where neither alcohol nor pork is served. It is confusing to the Muslims, which is why some simply assume that it is alre! ady 'halal' when it is actually not. Also, I feel that going 'halal' will definitely affect patronage of a restaurant. After A&W, KFC, McDonald's and Burger King, Pizza Hut has joined the ranks to serve 'halal' cuisine. More customers, healthier food; what's there to complain about? I hope you've seen the 'light'. - Syahrulnizam bin Abdul Rahman
  • There is never enough halal food outlets in Singapore. If there are normally, most of the outlets are located in one place. Like in Geylang, plenty of halal food outlets. But if you go to Chinatown, very difficult to find one. Then there is ambience. I will think twice when I go to a halal stall being surrounded by non-halal stalls. No offence intended, but I feel uneasy eating in such places. - Zainal
  • I agree with some of the views that I had just read. I find it very difficult to eat out especially in town where Halal food is rare. Let's not talk about fast food, I want cooked food. For instance, why can't they have Halal mee pok? I'm dying to try some of the Chinese cuisines, you know like those found in our local hawker centres. I always end up eating at Far East each and everytime I'm in town. I wish that one way or the another, something is done about this. Somewhere not only Muslims can eat but also all other races. As it is now, my chinese boyfriend has been eating Malay food (or in fact anything that's Halal) so that we can actually sit down and eat together.Thanks.
  • I'm a Muslim and I have a boyfriend who is a Catholic. I know that it may sound weird cos we feel that many will say that this kinda relationship will not last, but I am proud to say that our relationship has been going on for 7 years. He's learning to love Islam and will embrace the religion soon. I understand that it is going to be tough especially here in Singapore. We may say that we are a multi-racial country but if we talk about religion, it is still a sensitive issue(believe me I've been through a lot) It's not only about family and friends it's also about the FOOD. As a Muslim, eating HALAL food is not only about the content of the food we eat. But it is also on how the food is cooked and the utensils used, storage etc. My boyfriend had a hard time understanding that but after explaining the reasons and attending religious classes for non-Muslim (or for people like me who are still learning) he has a clearer picture and better understanding. It is definitely hard to find HALAL food especially in town areas. The food courts mostly have more non-Halal food rather than Halal ones. Places like Suntec City (where my boyfriend and I work) serves mostly non-halal food. There used to be two halal stalls but now there is only one left after the other one was replaced for a Young Tou Foo stall. That made our choices more constrained. Whenever he feels like eating Chinese food we would go to places at Far East or so where there are many Halal Chinese-style cooked food. I really feel that we should look deeper into the problems that all Muslim are facing. Not only the Muslims but also to non-Muslim who will embrace Islam. We should understand the phase these people are going through, especially here in Singapore where we are thought to respect and understand each and every religion. - Ilya

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