x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ask the expert: Halal food in Itaewon, Seoul

Itaewon district has the best halal restaurants and shopping in Seoul, we look at the best halal restaurants and mid-range hotels.

Q We'll be in Seoul for a few days next month to attend a wedding in Itaewon district. Can you recommend a few halal restaurants and mid-range hotels in the area? Which is the best place to shop?


A Some of the best halal restaurants in Seoul - from Indian to Middle Eastern, are located in Itaewon, a district on the banks of the Han River and home to a vibrant Muslim community that is based around Seoul's only mosque, Central Masjid.

Some of the most popular and reasonably priced restaurants in this area (dishes start from 5,000 won [Dh16]) include Dubai Restaurant (Seoul-si Yongsan-gu Itaewon 1-dong 127-2; 00 82 2 798 9277), an Arabic eatery with everything from traditional roast lamb to felafel, as well as flavoured shisha.

Arabian Restaurant ( 00 82 2 798 1385) is a favourite haunt among the locals and visitors alike for the lamb steaks (12,000 won, Dh40), kebabs and a variety of Arabic breads (from 1,000 won, Dh3). Wazwan (00 82 2 798 1253), an Indian restaurant, sits right beside the mosque, and does fabulous biryanis, yoghurt-based curries and tandoori dishes.

Ali Baba (00 82 2 790 7754) is a cosy Egyptian restaurant just a few minutes' walk from Itaewon Subway Station. Try the felafel (8,000 won, Dh26) and the lamb ribs (19,000 won, Dh62).

The four-star Hamilton Hotel (www.hamilton.co.kr; 00 82 2 794 0171), adjacent to Hamilton Shopping Centre, offers clean and bright double rooms from 125,000 won (Dh410) per night, including taxes. Its Ashoka restaurant (www.ashoka.co.kr), which claims to be Seoul's first Indian restaurant, serves halal fare, with prices starting from about 20,000 won (Dh70).

Hotel Itaewon (00 82 2 792 3111), a well-maintained, inexpensive hotel located in the tourist zone, has fabulous views of the Han and is a five-minute walk from restaurants and shops. Double rooms cost from110,000 won (Dh360) per night, including taxes.

Itaewon is also known as Seoul's shopping paradise. The shopping area off the main street is nearly 1.4km long and has more than 2,000 stores and small stalls selling antique furniture, apparel, jewellery, leather goods, handicrafts and designer handbags.

If you have the time, visit Central Masjid (www.koreaislam.org). Built in 1976 to accommodate the city's growing Muslim population, the mosque is also a tourist attraction, popular for its contemporary architecture and Friday lectures.

Itaewon's Tourist Information Centre (00 82 2 3707 9416) is located inside Itaewon Station beside the main business office. It offers information in English and is open between 9am and 10pm daily.


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