In China, halal food is named Qingzhen Cai.It is simple to find in most main cities in China because of the large Muslim population in China. Muslim restaurants and food stalls are widely available in cities because of a huge amount of Muslim migrants from western China.The Majority of Muslim restaurants in China are run by these migrants. Moreover, a number of foreign restaurants are also present increasing the variety of halal food for Chinese and foreigners alike.
Origin of Halal Food in China
Seekh kebab with naan and chutney is a Pakistani or Indian halal dish found in China :
Halal food in China appeared over 1,000 years ago during the Tang Dynasty when Islam was introduced to China. Arabian businessmen, travelers, and missionaries traveled to China through the ancient Silk Road and settled in places like Xi’an, Kaifeng, Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Yangzhou, and Hangzhou. These Arabian people were the ancestors of the Hui people in China.In China, halal food developed, and more dishes were created during the Yuan Dynasty when the Hui ethnic minority formed.
The Variety of Halal Food
With the presence of a large amount of Muslims in China, a person can easily find Muslim restaurants in every city. In addition to delicious halal Chinese food, one can also have a
taste of Muslim or middle eastern cuisine from around the world- the Mediterranean, Turkish, Middle-eastern and Pakistani/Indian cuisine, each with its own distinct style and flavors.
Chinese Halal Food
Lamb kebabs are Chinese halal food and Xinjiang Uyghur cuisine :
Chinese halal food blends the original Middle-Eastern flavors with traditional Chinese dishes and with some drinks, creating its own unique style. Wheat food and products are eaten more frequently than rice, and various dishes and snacks are made from wheat flour. Sweet flavors play an important role, probably related to Arabian Muslims’ preference for a sweet taste. Beef and mutton are also widely eaten.
The Xinjiang Uyghur cuisine (see Urumqi Food) is popular, with the majority of Chinese Muslim restaurants offering this cuisine. Lamb kebabs are famous and it is normal to see the barbeque stalls along streets, the characteristic aroma serving as free advertisement.
Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean & Turkish :
Chicken and lamb doner with rice is a Turkish or Arabic dish that can be found in China :
A number of Arab, Turkish, Moroccan and Egyptian Restaurants can be found in major cities and you can have a taste of the unique cuisine of each area. One can have the taste of hummus, falafel, tabouleh salad, shawarma, doner kebabs, kibbeh, to name but few. Shisha is also quite popular in some of these restaurants. The majority of the restaurants have a separate prayer room which is much needed by the Muslim guests.
Chicken Biryani :
Some Pakistani/Indian restaurants can also be found in the main or major cities. The cuisine is full of hot spice and flavor and is popular among many. Famous dishes or foods are Biryani and Pulao made
of rice and meat, a variety of kebabs, Chicken or lamb karahi (thick spicy curry) and daal (lentils). Raita (yogurt with parsley and some spices) normally accompanies the dishes.
Famous Chinese Halal Dishes :
Roasted Whole Lamb (烤全羊) :
Roasted Whole Lamb is the most popular dish in Xinjiang Province, and it can be found in the largest cities across China. The dish is prepared and made with selected ingredients and is cooked by a special cooking technique. When preparing, a mixture of flour and water with yolk, salt, ginger, and pepper powder is applied to cover the entire carcass. The lamb is then put into a specially made oven and baked for around one hour. It is trimmed with red silk around its neck and served with its mouth filled or stuffed with fresh caraway. When eating, people use a knife to take the mutton from the lamb.
Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles with Beef 兰州牛肉拉面 :
This type of hand-pulled noodle is also known as the “Lanzhou Beef Noodles,” one of the most normal and common dishes in the local area. Visitors can observe this dish being served on every corner of the city or area, and it became a part of the local people’s life. The noodle is handmade, and it takes a cook for only one-two minutes to stretch the flour cake into needle-like noodles. Today, restaurants serving Lanzhou Beef Noodles can be found in most of the Chinese cities. Most of them are situated in small alleys or back streets.
Among the many beef restaurants in Lanzhou, the Jinding Beef Noodle Restaurant situated on Pingliang Road, the Mazhilu Beef Noodle Restaurant on Wudu Road and the Minority Restaurant in Zhangye Road are the most popular.
Hand-taken Lamb 手抓羊肉 :
Hand-taken Lamb has a history of somewhat around one thousand years. It is named because the lamb is eaten with one’s hand.
The lamb is boiled in the soup, with ingredients such as pepper, onion, and ginger put in it. It is to be done when the meat is soft. The lamb can be served hot, cold or fried as the customer’s wish.
Flavors of Northern Chinese Food — Rich, Bold, and Salty :
Northern China experiences harsh, cold, and dry winters, as well as very hot summers, which makes calories and salt replacement very important.
A strong flavor is important for Northerners, who achieve this with salt and strong seasonings, compared with the South in where chilies and pickles are more used, or dishes which are lighter in flavor. Generally, northern dishes are oilier and richer in meat and make liberal use of garlic and scallions.
The most popular seasonings used in the north are soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, scallions, ginger, star anise, sweet bean sauces, chili peppers, and sesame oil. Northern chefs skillfully make using of seasonings to add richness to its dishes without covering up the natural flavor and taste of the ingredients.
Some Muslim Restaurants Address in China
Baiji Muslim Wonton Eatery :
Baiji Muslim Wonton Eatery enjoys an advantageous geographical position near the Chongshan mosque and the West City Pedestrian Street. It offers tasty and authentic Muslim food at an affordable price. Though it is a small eatery, it is famous in Guilin. The signature food — wontons is southern style. The meat stuffing is mixed with bruised ginger and diced mushrooms and the soup is delicious.
- Chinese name: 白记清真馄饨店 Baiji Qingzhen Huntun Dian /beye-jee ching-jnn hwnn twnn dyen/
- Recommended dishes: beef wontons (牛肉馄饨), beef meatballs (牛肉丸), and fried rice (炒饭)
- Average price per person: 6 yuan
- Address: near the Chongshan Road Mosque, Guilin (桂林市崇善路清真寺附近)
- Transportation: Take bus 22, 23, or 25B to Ximen Bridge Stop (西门桥). The eatery is about a 2-minute walk from the stop.
Indian Halal Restaurant :
The restaurant is next to the women’s mosques and 200 meters from the Chongshan mosque. It owned and run by the Islam Association of Guilin and aims to provide high quality food for the Muslims. The food it provides is spicy and also caters for northern Chinese.
- Chinese name: 恩典清真餐吧
- Recommended dishes: pine nut fish (松子鱼), braised beef (锅烧牛肉), and chow mein (炒面)
- Average price per person: 45 yuan
- Address: by the mosque, 1 Chongshan Road, Xiangshan District (象山区崇善路1号，清真寺旁)
- Tel: 0773-3930971
- Transportation: Take bus 22 or 23 to Ximen Bridge Stop (西门桥). The restaurant is about a 1-minute walk from the stop.
Xinjiang Gourmet Restaurant :
The restaurant is near the Guilin University of Technology. It has been running for more than a decade. All the staff are from Xinjiang. It provides authentic Xinjiang food and offers traditional Xinjiang private rooms with thick carpets you can sit on.
- Chinese name: 新疆美食馆 Xinjiang Meishiguan /sshin-jyang may-shrr-gwan/
- Recommended dishes: roast mutton chops (烤羊排), Xinjiang noodles (新疆拌面), Samosa (烤包子) and haggis soup (羊杂汤)
- Average price per person: 50 yuan
- Address: Shangbian Village, Liuhe Road, Qixing District, Guilin (桂林市七星区六合路上边村)
- Tel: 0773- 2123323
- Transportation: Take bus 10 to Jiangnan Road (建干路). The restaurant is about a 5-minute walk from the stop.