Halal in Vietnam
Traveling to Vietnam, many Muslims may be daunted, and curious, about the many different variaties of Vietnamese dishes. Unfortunately, the majority of Vietnamese dishes are made with pork, including desserts, or with other meats not considered halal. This should not keep you from considering traveling to Vietnam, halal restaurants are available in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Vung Tau and Chau Doc. The majority of the halal meat in Vietnam comes from the Muslims communities in Ho Chi Minh City (District 7, 8 and Phu Nhuan District) and Chau Doc.
Since Vietnamese are very friendly people, do not be surprised to be invited to join them for meals. In general, Vietnamese may not understand what halal or Islam is so you will need to be prepared. Besides pork dishes, it is common in Vietnam to drink beer or other alcoholic drinks during or after a meal. Just remember these simple rules while traveling in Vietnam:
1. When invited to somebody’s home for a meal, please be clear to your hosts that you do not eat pork (including ham) or drink alcohol. Be prepared to repeat yourself many times throughout the meal. Repetition is key here.
2. When it comes to alcohol, many Vietnamese will say that they know other Muslims, particularly the Cham, that drink alcohol. They use this excuse to convince you to drink alcohol. Be prepared to be ignored during toasts, this is quite common but polite hosts will allow you to toast with a soft drink. Again, be persistent here and this can be a good time to explain why Muslims do not, or not supposed to, drink alcohol.
3. Always be patient. If you do not feel comfortable in an area, just leave. Nobody will be offended and most likely you will be asked why you are leaving. Just explain your situation though if many people are intoxicated, it is probably best to leave.
Pork and Ham – the same?
There seems to be confusion here in whether pork and ham are the same thing. I have personally told Vietnamese that I do not eat pork. They then will not offer me any pork dish but the give me fried rice with ham in it. They then will insist there is no pork in the fried rice. Some people here do believe they are different. Be clear here, so you do not eat pork AND ham.
Halal Vietnamese Cuisine?
Yes, if you want halal Pho or any Vietnamese food, they do exist. GoHalalPlanet will include these restaurants in our website, you can find halal food stalls outside of some of the mosques in Vietnam. For halal pho, just remember that this dish is eaten in early mornings so if you want to try it, be prepared to wake up early.
Finally, one important thing to note, some Vietnamese stores, including coffee and pastry shops, will say they are halal when in fact they are not. If you see a halal sign on a restaurant, that does not mean that it is necessarily halal. Furthermore, having a halal certificate in Vietnam does not mean it is halal as well. Certifications can be bought in this country and some Vietnamese,and Expats, also have no qualm attaching the word halal or halal signs on their restaurant. Unfortunately this happens in other countries as well. HalalfoodinHanoi aims to help Muslims find restaurants that are halal in Vietnam.
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