If there's one thing we love about travelling, it's the chance to taste local cuisine. And just like many people, the HHWT team has been lucky enough to travel aboard - whether for work or pleasure - and enjoy all kinds of dishes in different countries. Today, we'll be taking a look back at our most memorable culinary experience and sharing the stories behind them with you! ?
My most memorable meal has to be my first dinner in Korea at this vegan restaurant at Oh Se Gae Hyang Vegetarian Restaurant at Insadong. Despite being a vegan meal, it was so comforting, warm, and filling which was exactly what me and my friend was looking for after exploring Seoul in winter. We were served steaming bowls of bean paste stew and kimchi stew, paired together with side dishes and bowls of rice. My personal favourite was the tteokbokki! It felt like the perfect dinner to welcome us on our first night. I think about this meal every once in a while and how happy I was when I took my first bite ?
During my last work trip to Japan, my group had dinner at Sushi Ichizyu, the only halal-certified Japanese restaurant in Chiba that serves halal unagi (freshwater eel)! Once we finished our meals, the owner asked if we enjoyed our dinner. One of my companions, a Muslim student who studies in Japan, said, "It's delicious and this is also my first time eating halal unagi in Japan."
At that moment, I never realised how hard it was for Muslim travellers to enjoy unagi in Japan, a dish that’s easily available to me as a non-Muslim.
In HHWT, our mission is to enable Muslims to explore the world without compromising our faith. And we achieve it little by little through the Muslim-friendly itineraries and halal food guides you see on our website. So that dinner wasn't just memorable for me, but it fueled my passion to help the Muslim community even more.
The most unforgettable meal I had on my trips was the teppanyaki I had at Misono Kobe. That was my first time having teppanyaki and it was my first time having Kobe beef! I visited Kobe 5 years before that trip and I remember looking at the Kobe beef eateries longingly, wishing how I could try the city’s famous dish.
The Kobe beef I had was well-marbled, super tender, so flavourful (it was only lightly seasoned with salt and pepper!) and melt-in-your-mouth good. And that was not all! The garlic fried rice that followed was one of the best I had. Maybe it tasted exceptionally delicious because it was fried with beef fat but the smell was amazing. Imagine enjoying all this while watching the chef prepare the food right in front of you, it was a memorable food experience I would love to have in Japan again!
We’re really blessed to be able to try so many halal local dishes when we travel today. If you have a personal favourite, please share with me and the rest of the community!
My most memorable meal was a bowl of chirashi in Sapporo fish market. We were having a free day without an itinerary and decided to walk around neighborhoods. We wandered around and found a local fish market. On our walk, we stumbled upon a tiny kiosk that sells sushi and chirashi. We decided to try the sashimi and it turned out to be a great decision. The sashimi was so fresh and sweet (I can still remember the taste of it!). What a sweet surprise to finish our trip in Hokkaido before heading back to Tokyo. We also managed to chat with some local shop owners, check out some giant crabs, and grab some dried seafood as snacks. Went to Sapporo indeed required some extra effort, especially for Japan first-timers. But I must say that it was definitely worth it.
Have you ever tried klepon? It’s basically a traditional sweets made from rice flour filled with bursting-melt-in-your-mouth brown sugar, rolled in shredded fresh coconut. Klepon is what they call here in Indonesia, but these sweets are also popular in Malaysia (called Onde onde) and Myanmar (Mont lone yay paw).
I had no idea where the origin of this sugary goodness was until I visited Tabanan Regency in Bali. Here, local people have used klepon as a part of traditional ceremonies for hundreds of years! Different from the popular version of klepon, the original one is not entirely round-shaped, all white, and a bigger portion ;)
Unlike the usual one, shredded coconut in the Tabanan version of klepon comes as a side dish. I remember taking one huge klepon, dipping it in a seabed of shredded coconut, then putting it in my mouth. I was literally drowning in brown sugar. Boba, what boba? ?
As an anime lover, I’ve seen all kinds of delicious looking Japanese food in some of my favourite anime. There’s this particular dish called yudofu that looks really amazing and it became a dream to try it in real life. Imagine my excitement when I finally got to try it for the first time in Kyoto last year. The soft and silky tofu literally melted in my mouth! It was so good that I actually brought another friend back to that restaurant a few months after that experience and I can’t wait to go back there after covid!
I finally got to try halal Wagyu beef during a work trip last year. I knew it was going to be good, but I really wasn’t prepared for just how mouth-watering it really was! ? We arrived at the restaurant at the end of the day amidst a drizzle so we were cold, tired, and uncomfortable - but seeing, hearing, and smelling the beef hit the grill in front of us was totally worth it. The beef melted in my mouth, and had a rich, fatty taste. No seasoning needed! But it was even better dipped into the salt provided to us - the perfect balance of salty, creamy, and buttery all in one bite. ? Wagyu is definitely worth the price tag - though I’m not sure when’s the next time I’ll get to try it, it’s a culinary memory that’s stuck with me ever since!
I’ve always had a love for seafood, and I’ve had my fair share in the past years, but the experience in New Zealand, where we got onboard a boat, headed out to the waters and feast on fresh Pacific oysters was truly something that I’ve never experienced before in my life. From the cool weather, to the breezy ride out in the waters, and finally to the highlight of the whole experience, fresh oysters for our shucking and enjoyment! The oysters were wonderfully fresh and creamy, and there were so many to go around, that we could enjoy it in all forms - fresh with a few drops of lemon juice or tabasco and grilled with the delicious garlic butter sauce that I couldn’t get enough of. I’ve never seen oysters quite the same way since.
During my last trip to Paris, I got to know more about the Frenchy pastry scene. Besides their famous croissant, thanks to Faruq, I was introduced to éclairs. I tried them for the first time and I personally love it.
At first, I was attracted by the fancy designs and its variety of colours. After the first bite, I could taste the flavorful vanilla cream in the middle of the bread mixed with the various toppings. The word comes from the Frenchéclair, meaning "flash of lightning", and it's named that way because it is eaten quickly (in a flash) and has been served since the nineteenth century in France.
Imagine having it while facing the magnificent Eiffel Tower in cosy weather. It was a memorable experience that I’m very grateful to have despite what's happening right now. Hopefully, everything will get better day by day so that we can travel again and experience all this. Don’t stop dreaming because once we get through this together, exciting adventures await us!
I was travelling solo in Tokyo for a work trip in October last year and I had my most memorable meal at Ayam-YA, a halal ramen eatery in Japan. They have an outlet in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The one in Tokyo is near Shin-Okachimachi train station. I love the whole experience of savouring ramen here. You have to purchase your ramen using a vending machine, and that’s part of the fun, especially when you’re not familiar with Japanese coins ? I ordered the regular-sized Spicy Tori Ramen Shio (salt-based) for just JPY890! When the ramen was finally served, I couldn’t wait to tuck in as the aroma and piping hot steam coming out of the ramen bowl made it so enticing. The moment I took my first bite, I instantly fell in love with the broth. It was hearty and so flavourful! The noodles had just the right texture and springiness. Trust me, the broth is so yummy that you’d want to slurp every bit of it; I know I did! Adding the egg on top of the noodles (JPY100) and the karaage chicken (JPY300) for sides is a must as it’s perfect to go with the ramen. Needless to say, the warm bowl of ramen warmed my tummy on a cold autumn night.
#HHWT Tip: You can also get a larger bowl of ramen at no extra charge!
2 years ago when I was studying in California, I was invited by my close friend to join his family for Thanksgiving. Now, you would think the celebration was going to be filled with dishes like mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls and cranberry pie. But that wasn't the case at all! I was joining a Hispanic family who were all about tacos, tamales, picada, carne asada, mole and other various dishes I had never heard of before. And as someone who didn't have a whole lot of access or options to traditional Mexican food while in Malaysia, this visit was a game changer for me. The best part about it was that I actually got to make our meal from scratch (the tamales at least) - from mixing the masa (corn flour) to spreading the dough inside corn husks. Thanks to the Ramirez family, my 2018 Thanksgiving meal is something that I will always remember.