By Kazuki Sato / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterHIROSHIMA — An okonomiyaki restaurant, which serves Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki that Muslims can eat, opened in January in central Hiroshima. The restaurant uses chicken instead of pork, which is forbidden in Islam, in cooking okonomiyaki. The savory pancake containing meat and vegetables is becoming popular among inbound tourists and foreign students, as they can enjoy eating the city’s signature dish without religious concerns.
The restaurant Mei-Mei, which opened in a building near JR Hiroshima Station, is operated by mint, Inc. Established in 2014, the event-planning company has expanded its business targeting inbound tourists by opening restaurants and offering cycling tours around the city.
The comment “There are few restaurants where Muslims can eat in Hiroshima” by a worker at a hotel with which the company cooperates led to the opening of the restaurant. According to the Hiroshima prefectural government, among other entities, about 30,000 tourists visited the prefecture from Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia in 2017.
Chief Executive Officer Satoshi Ishitobi was motivated to do something about the situation after also hearing that some tourists eat only snacks for meals in hotel rooms. “I wanted them to experience eating authentic Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki as they have come all the way from their own country,” he recalled.
Mei-Mei uses, among other ingredients, Halal-certified chicken and okonomiyaki sauce.
“We don’t offer okonomiyaki specially designed for Muslims, but serve something Muslims can also eat,” said manager Futoshi Okuni. “Locals, too, can find our fare satisfying.”
Prior to its opening, Mei-Mei purified its cookware under the supervision of Malaysian Nurhaizal Azam Arif, an associate professor at Hiroshima City University.
Azam ate okonomiyaki for the first time six years after he started living in Hiroshima. “It was cooked with a lot of vegetables,” he said. “I’m happy to finally be able to enjoy a dish I so much wanted to try.”
Open: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Address: Hiroshima Full-Focus Bldg. 6F, 10-1 Matsubaracho, Minami Ward, Hiroshima
English menu available
Credit cards accepted
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