How to Find Halal Food in China

Knowing what we know now, it’s kind of funny to think back to when we had no idea how to find halal food in China.

It is actually really simple to find halal food in China: learn a few key words in their language, use them to ask the locals, look out for common signs of places that serve halal food and KNOW YOUR DISHES!


Is it easy to find halal food in China?

You’ll probably agree with this:

It’s REALLY hard to find great halal food while on holiday.

Most people would assume that this is especially true in China.

Who’s heard of halal food in China, right?

Well, as it turns out, not only is it super easy to find delicious halal food in China, you can also find unique, home-grown halal Chinese cuisines too!

In today’s post we give you 5 simple tips (plus a bonus) on how to find amazing halal food while on holiday in China.


Halal food while travelling

Despite there being around 30 million Muslims in China, we still get asked on an almost daily basis the same question:

How can I find halal food in China?

Sure, it’s not always easy to find your way around in a foreign country.

It’s also true that finding halal food can be a challenge in non-Muslim countries, leading many to resort to eating junk like potato chips and instant noodles on their trip.

We believe that exploring local food is a big part of travel and China, for sure, is world renowned for its culinary treasures.

Thankfully, finding halal food in China has been, in our experience, much easier than in Europe.

Why?

Simply put: the indigenous and diverse Muslim presence in China!


Is halal food more expensive?

One of the biggest let downs about finding halal food while travelling is the cost. All too often, halal restaurants in non-Muslim countries charge way too much for meals. This is usually because they have to import halal meat from other countries as there may be none available there. Worse yet, halal restaurants are often overpriced tourist traps charging a premium for something “exotic”.


What is halal Chinese food?

So what about halal food in China?

Well, halal food in China is homegrown and enjoyed by everyone, from street snacks to 5 star restaurants and everything in between. This means that eating halal food in China is affordable and, best of all, it is super authentic. Chinese Muslims have their own native cuisines that can be found almost anywhere in China. On an early trip to Shanghai we found so many random halal spots that it started a running joke: every time we found a new China halal restaurant it meant we were definitely lost! Here are 5 easy tips for finding halal food when you are in China.


Find halal food in China

1. Ask a Local

Chinese people are extremely friendly and are always happy to help visitors out when they are lost – once they’ve taken an obligatory selfie with you, of course. Most Chinese locals are familiar with Halal as a cuisine. In fact, small halal eateries are a favourite stop for non Muslim noodle lovers. The word for halal in Chinese is 清真 – QĪNG ZHĒN, and sounds like: ching jen. Say, or point to, these words and your new selfie buddy will point you in the right direction.


2. Look for the Halal Logos

Yes! Muslim establishments in China have clear signage indicating they serve halal food.

Signs can be in;

Chinese, 请真

Arabic, حلال

And English, Halal (tip: many pronounce it halalu)

It’s a good idea to save these on your phone so that you can refer to them if you get stuck.

Here is a handy image you can download:

Halal in Chinese

Another thing to note is that Halal in Chinese signs are almost always green, which leads us to our next tip.


3. Look for 'Islamic' Signs

That’s right.

We’re talking about stereotypical designs like domes, camels and waiters wearing Aladdin style vests.

If you smell the heady aromas of cumin and grilled lamb, follow your nose. If you hear a Middle Eastern techno beat, follow your ears. Chances are it’s coming from a halal restaurant. Trust us, we’ve experienced this on more than one occasion.

(Not as funny but equally true: you should obviously keep an eye out for people with hijabs and white caps.)