YAMAGUCHI -- Yamaguchi University will start offering a halal food menu from Oct. 2, enabling Muslim students to enjoy university cafeteria food with peace of mind.
The new menu is overseen by the university's cooperative association at all three of the institution's campuses in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The aim is to provide a comfortable environment for Muslim students through the new halal menu and also through a prayer room located in the international exchange hall, where students can pray five times a day in accordance with their faith.
The word "halal" means "permissible" in Arabic, and halal food is prepared under strict Muslim rules such as zero use of alcohol. In May, some of the roughly 80 Muslim exchange students at the university had asked for a halal food menu to be provided, on the grounds that it is difficult to acquire halal ingredients in the prefecture. They had also asked for a prayer room to be set up.
The new menu consists of four items, namely green curry, yellow curry, chicken massaman curry and oven-baked chicken. The curry option is changed on a weekly basis, and costs 450 yen including tax. The baked chicken costs 108 yen including tax. Additionally, in the food preparation areas, pans, knives and tongs used for preparing halal food will be kept separately from utensils used for non-halal food.
On Aug. 3, a halal-food party was held in the student cafeteria Buono on the university's Yoshida campus in the Yoshida district of Yamaguchi city. Approximately 25 people including university staff and exchange students attended.
One of the participants, a 32-year-old exchange student from Bangladesh, who had taken the initiative in making the request to the university on behalf of the Muslim students, said, "I'm pleased because there are no restaurants nearby that offer halal food. Now my friends want to come here, too." As for the taste, the student said, "It's a bit sweeter than the curry back home, but it's delicious."
In addition, the university says its cooperative association is planning to add halal bread and grilled fish to the menu from October onward, taking hints from similar moves made at other universities.
Commenting on this culinary development, the president of Yamaguchi University, Masaaki Oka, said, "I want to create a university where students can interact with one another, and grow together."