Saturday, October 3, 2009

Where got "Restoran Islam"?

As an occasional food writer, I am always observing signboards of restaurants whenever I go on my ronda-ronda cari-makan jaunts in foodie haunts. Sometimes, I see a signboard that says “Restoran Islam” or "Makanan Islam", which flummoxes me.

Isn’t “Islam” a religion and not a type of cuisine? Have you ever seen a restaurant signboard that says “Christian Restaurant” or “Hindu Restaurant” or “Buddhist Restaurant”? Of course, not. Therefore, a so-called “Restoran Islam” should rightly be called “Restoran Halal”.

A halal restaurant need not necessarily have a halal certificate issued by JAKIM, however. Says a restaurant owner: “I am a Muslim, my cooks and kitchen staff are Muslims; my meat suppliers are Muslims, so why should I need to incur fees to get a halal certificate? I want to keep my overheads as low as possible because the certificate has to be renewed yearly.”

Puan Faridah Mohd Ali, Head of Corporate Communications of Halal Development Corporation Sdn Bhd once said to me: “Halal food does not mean it is meant for Muslims only. It is also meant for non-Muslims as some Chinese and Indian vegetarian restaurants may qualify for halal status.” Thus, a non-Muslim operated restaurant can also be halal. In fact, on the first and fifteenth of the Chinese lunar month, as a Taoist, I occasionally eat at En Hui Vegetarian Restaurant in Jalan Jernai, K.L. It is Chinese-operated and officially certified halal by JAKIM.


No comments: