The next time you crave shawarma or hummus, make a stop some of Metro Manila’s best halal restaurants.
In terms of food, “halal,” which means “allowed,” is the practice of preparing meat as prescribed by Islamic law. While it primarily has a religious significance, halal has also opened up a whole new gastronomical world that transcends all beliefs. The term is synonymous to delicacies from predominantly Islamic countries such as those in the Middle East and some in Asia and these are dishes that people all over the world have come to know and enjoy.
If you would like to enjoy halal food in unity with our Muslim brothers and sisters, who will celebrate Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan) in June, you will be happy to know that Metro Manila has some of the best halal restaurants in the country. Whether you enjoy Persian kebabs or chicken satay, here are ten of the Metro’s best halal restaurants that offer them.
Al Batra ensures those with a midnight craving for kebabs, hummus or fresh seafood are satisfied, as this Mediterranean, Arabian Gulf, and Indian restaurant is open 24 hours a day. Interestingly enough, they also offer pizza and pasta, which is a plus for groups of diners with the one friend who has yet to venture out of their culinary comfort zone.
There is currently only one branch, which is located at Constellation Street corner Makati Avenue in Makati.
Must-try: Labna and Honey Pie, a pita-like crust filled with creamy yogurt and drizzled with honey
To visitors, one of the most striking elements about Arya is its interior. From the ornately painted ceiling to the furnishings, the overall ambiance should put any diner in the mood for what’s to come. Arya specializing in Iranian cuisine such as kebabs and the menu helpfully points diners with specific food needs to the right direction, as it has indicators for vegetarian and halal dishes.
Arya has branches at the Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan; Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong; Robinsons Magnolia, Quezon City; and Robinsons Place Manila.
Must-try: Koobideh Platter, which combines beef, chicken, and lamb koobideh
Starting out with a hotdog cart in New York City in 1990, the founders of The Halal Guys switched up their menu when they received increasing demand for halal food from the city’s Muslim cab drivers. They then added chicken and gyro over rice to the menu and the business took off, serving what they refer to as “American Halal food” to different parts of the U.S. and the world.
In the Philippines, you can sample their food at SM Megamall in Ortigas and at Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig.
Must-try: Gyro (beef) over rice, slathered with the iconic Halal Guys creamy white sauce or spicy red sauce
Chef Hossein comes from a family that enjoys the traditions of Middle Eastern cooking, a tradition which he brought with him when he started Hossein’s in 1985. Hossein’s is a pioneer in Middle Eastern cuisine in the Philippines, serving traditional Persian, Arabic, Mediterranean and Indian cuisine with a modern twist. Chef Hossein did everything, from cooking to cleaning to even marketing, until the restaurant grew from a three-table establishment to what it is today.
It currently has branches at Serendra, BGC, Taguig; TriNoMa, Quezon City; and Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa. It has also given birth to “spin-off” restaurant Gilak by Hossein’s in Greenbelt.
Must-try: Beef Kebab Kubideh, seasoned with Persian herbs and spices
Said to be the first Indian fine dining restaurant, it has been awarded “Best Indian Restaurant” in 2010 and 2014 by the Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets panel, and was given a positive review by The New York Times. Although husband-and-wife team Indra and Arjan Mirchandani founded the restaurant in the 80s, it continues to offer the same Indian, Malaysian and Middle Eastern dishes that have become favorites by patrons over the years.
Kashmir currently serves customers from branches located at San Lorenzo, Dasmariñas Village, and Glorietta in Makati, as well as in Ermita, Manila.
Must-try: Palak Paneer—cottage cheese in spinach—with naan bread
Mister Kabab in West Avenue is open 24/7, gaining its reputation as a go-to food joint for night owls after a night of drinking. Mister Kabab boasts of having a menu that offers Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Aside from the West Avenue main branch, you can get your fix of Mister Kabab dishes from its other Quezon City branches at Fisher Mall, UP-Ayala Technohub, Manhattan Parkview in Cubao, Mezza Residences in Sta. Mesa and Ayala Fairview Terraces, as well as at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay and the Pearl Place in Pasig.
Must-try: Special Beef Chelo Kebab, a strip each of tenderloin (shish kabab) and chelo (ground kabab) served with grilled tomato and buttered rice.
Quiapo has one of the largest Muslim communities in Metro Manila, so it is understandable that halal restaurants can be found left and right. One establishment that stands out is Moud Halal Restaurant, a hole-in-the-wall-type eatery along Globo de Oro Street.
As a turo-turo, it is a far cry from the pricey restaurants in the list, but diners, including several food bloggers, will argue that their roasted chicken is one of the best in the Metro (not to mention, extremely affordable). If you are not in the mood for chicken, Moud’s menu also contains includes Maranao dishes and more familiar items like shawarma, burgers, spaghetti and even chicken sopas.
Must-try: A quarter of roasted chicken with kabsa rice, a combo that costs less than Php100
Indian cuisine takes center stage at New Bombay, said to be the pioneering and largest Indian restaurant chain in the country. As anyone well-versed in the world of Indian cuisine will know, Indian food tend to be on the spicy side, but in order to give novices an opportunity to sample their dishes without scaring them with too much spice, New Bombay offers to prepare dishes in mild and medium as well.
New Bombay currently has eight branches: The Columns, Glorietta 3 and 4, Sagittarius Building in Makati; Crossroads Building and Venice Grand Canal Mall in Taguig; The Podium, Mandaluyong City; and Robinsons Place Manila.
Must-try: Chicken Tikka Masala, an orange-tinted dish of roasted chicken chunks with a thick sauce
Shawarma Snack Center (SSC) has been operating for over 25 years, serving its diners moderately priced but authentic Arabian and Middle Eastern dishes. As one can guess by the moniker, SSC’s claim to fame is their shawarma filled with either beef or chicken, or both.
Grab a shawarma at any of SSC’s four branches: Ermita, Manila; El Grande Arcade and President’s Avenue in BF, Parañaque; and Waltermart in Pio Del Pilar, Makati.
Must-try: Mixed shawarma, which combines chicken and beef in one roll, with garlic yogurt sauce
Another repeat winner of Manila’s Best kept Restaurant Secrets for “Best Middle Eastern Restaurant,” Ziggurat offers an extensive menu of over 200 items that also include Mediterranean and African dishes. As tricky as it can be to find, patrons are constantly crowding the old-time favorite, a testament to its ability to deliver authentic flavors.
Ziggurat’s sole branch is at Durban Street corner Makati Avenue in Makati.
Must-try: Curry François—a Franco-Indian delicacy composed of butter, garlic, onion, heavy cream, paprika, and curry leaves—with your choice of meat (preferably lamb)
Main photo by Lesya Dolyk via Flickr Creative Commons