Islamic Centre Canteen: Halal dim sum in the heart of Hong Kong

Islamic Centre Canteen: Halal dim sum in the heart of Hong Kong

A visit to the Islamic Centre Canteen in Wan Chai, where we found pork-free halal dim sum at its best

What would dim sum be like without pork? That’s the question we went to answer when we visited the Islamic Centre Canteen in Wanchai. The ICC offers halal dim sum at lunch and Cantonese dishes at dinner time. With a sizeable Muslim population in Hong Kong and a steady flow of Muslim visitors from Southeast Asia, the ICC offers a Muslim friendly local alternative to the halal curry and vegetarian dining options that many Muslims rely on. We went to check out this pork- and lard-free dim sum and found the food was great and the community atmosphere even better.

The Islamic Centre Canteen in the Masjid Ammar in Wanchai opened in 2005. It is one of two halal Chinese cuisine restaurants in Hong Kong and the only one offering Cantonese cuisine. The food is certified halal by the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong.

The food is strictly halal and fresh meat is sourced from mainland China and Brazil. The canteen chefs are trained in handling halal food and have devised clever recipes to replace traditional pork dishes, with delicious results.

The taste of the halal dim sum at the Islamic Centre Canteen is a bit different from traditional Cantonese dim sum due to the absence of lard, which is added as a flavour enhancer to most traditional dim sum. Halal beef, chicken and seafood is used instead of pork in these dim sum.

Chicken buns, beef brisket and radish cakes are prepared in advance of the Saturday morning dim sum rush.

The Islamic Centre Canteen is not only a place to eat, but a place to mingle with fellow Muslims from around the world.

Sheraz enjoys dim sum with his mother Jabbin on a Saturday morning. Since his office is close to the mosque, he enjoys dim sum a few times a week at the canteen. Being Muslim limits their Chinese cuisine dining options -- the Islamic Centre Canteen is the only halal Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong. 

 The Chui family sits down to a dim sum brunch. The Muslim family emigrated from Hong Kong to the United States but always visits the Islamic Centre Canteen to meet old friends when they return to Hong Kong.

Malaysian tourists enjoy dim sum on their trip to Hong Kong. They heard about the Islamic Centre Canteen from a documentary they saw on the Malaysian television station, Astro. The Hong Kong Tourism Board also published a Muslim Tourist Guide to Hong Kong complete with listings of Hong Kong’s halal restaurants.

Indian-Canadian Moize enjoys his dim sum and tea. It is his first time having halal dim sum and he thinks it’s just as good as the regular stuff. 

Islamic Centre Canteen

5/F, 40 Oi Kwan Road. Wan Chai, tel +852 2834 8211

Derrick Chang is a Canadian photojournalist based in Hong Kong. His work has appeared in Time, the New York Times, CNNGo, Huffington Post, and other Asian media outlets. He enjoys hiking from one mountain village to another, waiting for the golden light and dining on street food.

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