Halal Japanese Food at Zem One in Mississauga
In a busy retail plaza just off of Hurontario St. just south of Eglington Ave. in Mississauga sits Zem One, a modest and tranquil restaurant serving halal Japanese food.
It’s not everyday we get to eat halal Japanese food. Many people naturally assume that sushi is halal. However, few know that sake and mirin could be used in the preparation of their favourite roll.
A trusted person in the community tipped me off to Zem One. The staff will also confirm their meat status and the owners themselves are Muslim. They do not serve alcohol and it’s not used in the preparation of their food either. Like all of our reviews, please check before you visit/order/consume as this could change if there is a change of ownership, etc.
***NOTE*** There is differing opinion on seafood so please base your decisions on your own views. The point of this review is for the food, not religious debate.
You can miss the restaurant very easily as it’s tucked away in the corner of the plaza, but the small facade opens up to a spacious, warm and appropriately Zen-like dining area. As you enter, you’re greeted by the sushi chef as per usual custom “irrasshaimase!” and then immediately taken to a table by the hostess/waitress. With smiles all around, service so far is at par with my expectations.
Zem One serves halal Japanese food, but they also offer halal Oriental and Thai dishes. They call themselves a fusion restaurant because they offer dishes from these three cultures. The dishes themselves however, are not fusion. The menu is pages and pages of items from appetizers all the way to desserts. It takes us a while to leaf through and actually decide, but we agree to try a little from each category to get a full scope of what the restaurant has to offer.
Continuing with our order we move on to appetizers. In this section, you’ll find a mixture of all three cuisine styles. We order Satay Chicken ($5.99) and Tempura Appetizer (7.99). This was the first time doing a review that I was shocked at the portion vs. price ratio. Satay should have been priced much less or larger portioned for the same price. The taste however, was great and the peanut sauce that accompanied the scant skewers was well made and accented the satay nicely. This would have been a hit had we received more. The tempura quantity was more aligned with what I was expecting for the price. Both items were well received in the taste arena.
Moving on to main courses, we ordered our children sweet and sour chicken ($12.99) from the Oriental menu. It arrived first with a small bowl of rice. Order an extra bowl or two if you intend to feed more than 2 children/1 adult.
Appearance wise, the dish looked flavourful and fresh however the taste was predictable and expected. We received a large platter with the sweet and sour chicken, but no dinner plates. We had to request them and when they came, they were the size of tea-cup saucers. I could only put about 4-5 tablespoons of food on each plate and half of that ended up falling off since kids and fine motor skills do not always go hand in hand.
Next to come out was Thai Mango with Chicken ($12.99) and Green Curry with Beef ($12.99) both Thai dishes. The Thai Mango was by far the best out of the two dishes. I’m using the term best very loosely here, as there were issues with both dishes. Thai food is intense, deep and complex. The only way to sum up my experience was flat. I might give the Thai Mango another try because it definitely had potential; however, I’ll ask them to prepare it with more spice next time. Presentation wise, the Thai dishes looked appetizing.
They need to rethink their fusion concept in my opinion because it’s likely costing them more money to host so many options than it is benefiting them. I have read other reviews online about their great Pad Thai — if that’s the case, perhaps whittling the menu down so that they serve only the best from each cuisine type will be a better move. I see this too often — giant menus which are overwhelming in which most dishes are substandard and the customer is left to play Russian Roulette.
The last of the entrees is sushi. Spicy Dynamite Roll 8pcs ($9.99) and Alaska Roll 5psc (9.99). Superb. Fresh. Delivered all promises. Out of the two, Alaska Roll would have to be my favourite. It was intricate with the many ingredients, but still fairly beginner (which I requested). I liked the fact that it was deep-fried as well.
I’m not a sushi connoisseur but I believe sushi etiquette is to eat the entire piece in one bite. I felt that the pieces were too large to do that so I ended up taking several bites. I was making a mess, and glad no one was around to witness. I also learned that in sushi etiquette, it’s ok to use your hands if chopsticks fail you — which they did. So I continued to enjoy their sushi right down to the last piece.
For dessert, we ordered the fried banana with mango ice cream ($6.99).You can’t go wrong with this choice!
My recommendation is to stick with their appetizers, sushi and chef’s recommendations; Pad Thai and General Tao Chicken (both $8.99 each).
Despite the few bumps, I will come back to Zem One halal Japanese restaurant. They offer great customer service, wonderful sushi and the confidence that all of their meat is halal so no worries of cross contamination. As mentioned above, they don’t use sake, mirin or any other alcohol at all (both known to be used in the preparation of sushi); another reason why this is the best place to eat sushi — at a halal Japanese restaurant!
Mississsauga ON, L4Z 3M2