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Chaco Canyon Cafe (they specialize in raw food, but they have cooked food too. Always various gluten-free options. If you sign up for their e-newsletter you get announcements about their seasonal "special" dinners, which are pre-fixe course menus which are often mostly gluten-free, from appetizer to dessert.)
Flying Apron Bakery (now they got a bigger place in Fremont, lunches and salads available! Yum)
Cafe Flora (seriously good vegetarian food that doesn't seem vegetarian; they always have gluten-free options)
And last but not least, Impromptu Art & Wine Bar in Madison Park, where Daniel, "gluten free girl" Shauna's husband is the exec chef. They don't say on the menu, but pretty much everything he cooks there is gluten-free! GREAT food and wine. You can see their passion for good food from Shauna's blog, glutenfreegirl.com. The food at the restaurant is awesome.
For MN_Newbie, right across the street from Westin is Westlake Center (a mall), and in there, there is P.F. Chang's, which has a pretty good gluten-free menu. And in an earlier thread, there was a list of restaurants distributed at a GIG meeting:
Just so it's known... the manager who said he would send me a comp gift certificate never sent me one. I guess he figured he scared me away. Still it could've been used by my family/friends -- how rude not to keep his words!
That's so great! Nice to hear that Koi is up to speed on wheat-free tamari :-) Now I'm sooo tempted to go there when I'm in LA!
I'm learning to speak up myself, since I was just diagnosed this year, so I totally knew what you meant about feeling like you're making a scene. I guess if more of us speak up then people would be more aware and life would be ultimately easier.
Good for you for speaking up, and congrats for having a fab meal :-))))
I haven't eaten there, but I did used to work at a fancy Japanese restaurant in L.A., so these are general tips. (I just realized your post says you're going tonight, so this may not help you tonight, but maybe for future reference.)
- Miso - you'd have to ask if there is any barley (mugi, or 麦) in it. Many good restaurants switch miso's depending what season it is and what ingredients are going into it. Most likely in winter it is shiro miso (white miso) they are using and chances are those don't contain barley, but it never hurts to ask. If you find that embarrassing, I'd avoid it.
- Soy sauce - bring your own wheat-free tamari. If you get to go to a place like Mitsuwa Marketplace, they probably sell a cute tiny container to take condiments in (though I can't guarantee) -- those can come in handy to go to restaurants. (Called shoyu-ire)
When you're eating sushi, you may want to avoid rolls made with masago (smelt roe) on them -- it's often used as a garnish; like ikura, it's often cured with soy sauce, though not always.
You probably know to avoid ikura (salmon roe), tamago (egg omelet), unagi (eel), & anago (sea eel), as those are made with regular soy sauce with wheat in it... but mentioning just in case.
I'm a Japanese ex-pat celiac living in Seattle, so I can't provide you with much local information at this point, but I can tell you this: my mom shops at Natural House（ナチュラルハウス）to find a lot of stuff I can eat.
Here's the location list on their website; depending on how much kanji you can read you might want to get help:
They sell lots of natural, organic stuff made without additives and sensitive about allergens, and I think she found some soy sauce-like condiments made with millet, quinoa, etc., as well as cookies made with alternative ingredients to avoid 小麦. When shopping, tell them you have 小麦アレルギー (wheat allergy) & 他の麦も食べられません。(I can't eat barley, etc., either.)
カラメル色素 is caramel coloring, so I'd watch out for that, too, since that's often made with barley in the process.
アミノ酸系調味料 or 調味料 mean "amino acids flavoring" and "flavoring" respectively, and I usually avoid those, because those are euphemistic ways of saying MSG, and often contain glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is most likely safe in the U.S., but in China and Japan there are manufacturers who make them from wheat.
True (about food coming from China)... I kind of took offense when he grouped all "Asian" ingredients rolled into one, because I'm Japanese and I know Japanese food manufacturers typically have high quality control standards. I used to work at a Japanese restaurant, too, and if you carefully work with a good supplier you get consistent quality ingredients. I think the bottom line is that they are aiming for lower cost by cutting corners.
After I went on gluten-free diet, I kept eating at Zao Noodle Bar at University Village, because (1) they were mentioned in Triumph Dining Guide, (2) they were nearby, and (3) they had a "no gluten" menu. But I also kept having a hard time ordering and sometimes got sick. Some servers knew about the menu but others didn't, and when I tried to order off the menu, I would often get something I had to send back. (For example, the menu would say "Pad Thai -- no tofu," so I'd order it that way, and the plate would come with straggler tofu pieces. I mostly attribute this to the poor training of the kitchen staff and communication issues between them and servers, since chefs don't seem to speak much English.)
So I finally contacted them through their customer feedback form on their website. I went back and forth a couple of times to clarify some things, but ultimately it sounds like they were never meant to have a gluten-free menu and can't commit to avoid cross contamination. It's ironic that the rep says their "execution is fast and furious," since I always seemed to wait as long for the food as any other sit-down restaurant, if not more for having to send the food back. To their credit, they do seem to be sending me a gift card
Anyway, wanted to give a heads-up to those of you in the area.
A question I can answer! I have taken my parents (from out of town) to have brunch there this past summer (Aug 25, 2007), the Alki Beach location. I inquired with them beforehand (about 3 wks prior) via email, because I need to be gluten- dairy- and egg-free. To my delight, Chef Levi Palli responded (this took a while because the email was forwarded to him) to my question and said that while there is no gluten-free menu, he'd be happy to make me a special dish. I responded, thanked him, and made a reservation. I also tried going in when it was a little slower at the restaurant so it's not all crazy and I can get enough attention. He said Saturday is slower than Sunday and their "down" time was Saturday between 10am and 11am (usually).
When we showed up (our reservation was Saturday at 11 AM), I told them that I'd talked to chef Levi (pronounced like the jean brand I believe). They even went to fetch him from the kitchen and he showed us to our table (great table by the window!), and I was able to talk to him about which things out of the buffet I could potentially eat. Then I asked him if he could in fact whip up something like a potato scramble with onion and veggies, and he made me a really yummy one, complete with some flowers on the plate! I was stuffed and very pleased. I think there were a few things I could eat off the buffet; if you can eat dairy and eggs, you could probably eat a lot more.
I'm not sure if he still works there, but he was such a nice young gentleman, so if he is still there I highly recommend it :-) I also recommend going there during a slower time so you can get your deserved attention too.
Here's a copy of his original response (as of Aug. 6, 2007):
Thank you for showing a interest in our Famous weekend Brunch, we would love to have you and your family come join us for Brunch on Saturday or Sunday. As for your specific questions about our food they are as follows:
Sorry, we do not have a gulten free menu for you to choose from. Dairy and eggs are a staple of American Brunch, but we would like to try to find something else you may have, I would love to make you a personal dish to avoid any cross contamination. Our cocktail sauce has ketchup, chili sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, worechestershire sauce, black pepper and garlic and is made on site. You may want to bring salad dressings. Please let me know if this has helped you or if you have any questions. Thank you
Chef Levi Palli
Additional info on pickled ginger: As I mentioned before, most pickled ginger (gari) used at Japanese/sushi restaurants in the U.S. is bought wholesale, pre-packaged in a bag. There are a few better/larger restaurants in bigger cities which make their own, but they are few and far in between.
These wholesale, pre-packaged foods contain "flavoring" or "amino acids", which restaurant employees wouldn't know to look at as wheat. It wouldn't list a source.
Upon some sleuthing in Japanese language, I came upon quite a few food manufacturers in Japan and China which manufacture glutamic acid/glutamate (one of the most common "flavoring" or "amino acids" used in Asian packaged foods; also one of the two components of MSG) from wheat.
You can view the discussion about umami, glutamate and MSG on Wikipedia:
I understand glutamic acid is mostly OK if manufactured in the U.S., but if you are trying to be vigilant about being gluten-free, I recommend avoiding pickled ginger as well, since restaurant employees have no way of knowing.
If you want to know how to make your own pickled ginger, PM me and I can tell you.
Hi everyone, a new celiac here... as I happen to be Japanese and have worked at a rather fancy sushi restaurant in L.A., I thought I'd put in my two cents.
Yes, I'd say ordering sashimi and a la carte temaki (hand rolls) would be the safest option. While what I call ghetto sushi (i.e. super market sushi) often contain food additives such as MSG and corn syrup in the sushi rice, the traditional sushi rice should only contain: rice, rice vinegar (water, rice), sugar, and salt. Sometimes, chefs may add konbu (a type of seaweed) when cooking rice to add additional umami (savory taste). This is true for Japanese restaurants with Japanese chefs with traditional training.
That said, each restaurant has its own "formula". While purists of course would adhere to the general formula above, there are sushi restaurants that may decide to shake things up or have chefs that may not be traditionally trained. So it's always good to ask. Mirin (sweet rice sake), if included in the mix, usually is a non-issue if it's a good mirin. But there are "mirin-like" flavor mixes out there, so it could be a suspect. I highly doubt a reputable place would put mirin in sushi rice, however.
Most sushi restaurants in Japan as well as good ones in the bigger cities in the U.S. (e.g. L.A., N.Y., etc.) cure their own ginger with rice vinegar, sugar and salt (the one where I worked cured theirs with a bit of garlic to add some kick, but that is unusual), but most sushi restaurants in the U.S. buy their ginger in bulk, pre-cured, from wholesale dealers. Japanese manufacturers are not shy about using corn syrup and MSG (chemically derived) in pre-cured foods. So while that does not contain gluten per se, if you are sensitive to MSG or corn, it's something to keep in mind. Wasabi should be OK as well, unless the restaurant itself used wheat in re-constituting powder, which would be rare. A pre-mixed paste, as mentioned by others, may contain lactose but not gluten. Always good to ask, though.
Also in addition to things folks mentioned (tempura, sauces, broiled eel etc.), you should also avoid ikura (salmon roe) and masago (smelt roe - the little red dots sometimes added to rolls). These are also either purchased in cured form or they may cure it themselves, but either way the marinade solution would almost always contain soy sauce. Most places buy these frozen and cured from their wholesale dealers and the labeling on these may be sketchy (i.e. in Japanese and ambiguous, translated to simplified English), so even if you ask the chefs, they wouldn't REALLY know what's in them. (That could be the confusion about wasabi... they buy it pre-made but don't or can't really read the labels, which is usually thrown out with the packaging anyway.) Better safe than sorry, so ask to omit masago in your rolls (many places add masago to add texture to rolls).
Also tamago (egg omelet) would contain dashi (soup stock made from bonito flakes and konbu, but could be pre-made) and soy sauce (wheat).
In regard to miso: some varieties of red (summer) miso contain barley, whereas most white miso's don't. This really depends. You could ask about theirs or skip. You can't necessarily assume they'd be using the same miso all the time - in Japan usually summer (stronger flavor) vegetables are made into miso soup with red miso, whereas winter (gentle flavor) vegetables are cooked with white. Depending on the desired effect and material, chefs at good restaurants would blend both miso's. If the chef is from western Japan, they may prefer white miso most of the time as they prefer subtle flavors. Usually in the U.S. restaurants tend to use the same miso all the time, though. As with any restaurant, however, good chefs tend to be always on the lookout for the best purveyors/suppliers, and they switch if they find a better one. So it's best to befriend the chef so he/she would be a part of your team... I understand that's not always possible with every single place, so when in doubt, I'd order sashimi or chirashi (basically sashimi on top of sushi rice... omit ikura/tamago/masago/unagi) to go and eat it at home, so I don't offend the stuck-up sushi chef.
The eel I mention is unagi (fresh water eel), which is the more widely available in the U.S., as restaurants usually buy it frozen, pre-cooked in sauce (containing soy sauce). If you are lucky enough to live in a place where restaurants have anago (sea eel), this has a chance of not being pre-soaked in soy sauce containing marinade, so you could ask to have it without the sauce - only if they bought it plain.
Happy sushi eating! Hope this is helpful. Sorry about the long post.