Amina Chau Runs the Only Restaurant in Honolulu Serving Halal Italian Food
Exploring restaurants by the Islamic community on O‘ahu means tasting flavors from Uzbekistan, Iran, Morocco and ... Italy.
Amina Chau didn’t grow up Muslim, and she didn’t grow up eating Italian food. And yet, she runs the only restaurant in Honolulu serving halal Italian food. (Halal refers to what is permissible according to the Quran. Restrictions include no alcohol and no pork.)
From Saigon, Vietnam, she arrived in Honolulu in 1994 and married a Muslim from Malaysia. She converted to Islam and they opened Amina Pizzeria in Kailua in 1998, and then moved to the current location on Kalākaua Avenue in 2008. She studied the cuisine by trying Italian restaurants in Honolulu and studying cookbooks.
“I love to learn something different from my country,” she says. “And I love Italian food.”
She put her favorite dishes on the menu, such as lasagna, pizza and calzone, and tailors the flavors to her own palate, so the tomato sauces border on the sweet and sour. Eighty percent of the dishes are halal, including the pepperoni pizza, which Chau sources halal, all-beef pepperoni for. Sometimes customers are surprised that she cooks the dishes, expecting an Italian chef, or maybe just a non-Asian one, in the kitchen. “I do everything: cooking, dishwasher, cashier,” she says. “It makes me happy, makes me peaceful.”
Open daily, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9:30 p.m., 1694 Kalākaua Ave., #D, (808) 949-3548