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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

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Hong Kong, The Philippines, And Japan
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10 posts in this topic

Hi,

 

I'm heading to Hong Kong, the Philippines (Manila, Bacolod,and Boracay), and Japan (Fukuoka) for about 3 weeks in April.

 

I was wondering if anyone has traveled to one or all of these locations while gluten-free and could offer some advice/suggestions? I will be at a wedding in Bacolod (and theoretically the food is taken care of), and I am staying with bi-lingual family members in both Hong Kong and Japan. 

 

I traveled to Asia just after diagnosis unsuccessfully, and I'm getting more and more nervous as my trip nears. I prefer not to eat-in for every meal (I will if I have to), so I'd really appreciate any advice on eating out/supermarkets/food in general.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Rebecca

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I can't speak for Hong Kong or the Phillippines, but I have managed to be able to do sushi here in Korea. I just explain to the person preparing that I have an allergy (it's easier to understand that way) and that I want only raw fish, no sauce, no rice, and I bring my own gluten-free soy sauce. It's not very exciting, but it's another option besides eating in for every meal. 

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I live in Japan and, sorry to say, I never eat out. My only exception is one sushi restaurant where I bring my own gluten-free soy sauce. People have no clue about gluten free and most people don't know what is in what. Soy sauce or wheat seem to pop up in everything. Either that, or things are made in factories with wheat....

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Thanks to you both!

 

I figured those would be answers I would come across! I lived in South Korea briefly several years ago (my unsuccessful travels), but was hoping there might have been some changes in the gluten free world since then (I know coeliac isn't well known in Asia, but I had my fingers crossed anyway!).

 

In your experiences, have you ever come across gluten free foods in stores (I'm thinking health food shops)? I wonder if I should send some gluten free foods to my family before travelling so I have something to eat while there!

 

Thanks again!

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i just spent last oct. in the philippines and Nov. in Japan. Have been to japan a few months a year for more than 30 years, 9 of them as  celiac.  I've never had a problem in Japan but then I know how to order and how to ask questions. I bilingual family should be able to help.  You should also  find and download the japanese  celiac cards which explains it to wait staff and  chefs. I think these are also available in tagalog.  In the philippines I kept to vegetable dishes and a lot of fresh fruit and  rice. Being vegan can make it even harder. My hosts at various locations went  way out of their way to understand and make  things vegan and gluten free. Even some fo the  restaurants in Los bano, Davao and around manila.  Don't let  celiac keep you  from enjoying yourself and time in these amazing places.

 

Hi,

 

I'm heading to Hong Kong, the Philippines (Manila, Bacolod,and Boracay), and Japan (Fukuoka) for about 3 weeks in April.

 

I was wondering if anyone has traveled to one or all of these locations while gluten-free and could offer some advice/suggestions? I will be at a wedding in Bacolod (and theoretically the food is taken care of), and I am staying with bi-lingual family members in both Hong Kong and Japan. 

 

I traveled to Asia just after diagnosis unsuccessfully, and I'm getting more and more nervous as my trip nears. I prefer not to eat-in for every meal (I will if I have to), so I'd really appreciate any advice on eating out/supermarkets/food in general.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Rebecca

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I have found that people in Korea, though well-meaning, don't get it at all. My coworkers would constantly put bread, cookies, cakes, etc, on my desk, and then ask why I wasn't eating, even though I explained DOZENS of time! Once, at a BBQ place, my friend interrogated the owner about the meat and asked if it had any sauce on it. The owners repeatedly said "No, no, no," no sauce, but then once my friend dropped the phrase" severe allergy," suddenly the meat was magically soaked in wine! Then, halfway through the meal, I felt sick, so my friend asked once again, and the owner admitted that the meat had soy flour on it. *Bangs head against wall.* It's tough ! 

 

As far as having gluten free foods with you, I highly recommend iherb.com, a natural food and supplement website that ships all over the world. You could even go ahead and order so that you have a box of food waiting for you. Prices are really reasonable and shipping is dirt cheap. Good luck! I hope you enjoy your travels! 

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Hi,

 

I've just returned from my trip and thought I would write a couple notes about eating gluten free in Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Japan, in case anyone finds themselves heading that way.

 

Hong Kong

 

Hong Kong was the easiest place to eat gluten free on the trip. Gluten free foods can be purchased at health food stores (though I brought enough with me to last for a while), and some restaurants mark gluten free on their menus. I ate at Indian and Nepalese restaurants with success. South Asian is usually my go-to, as many foods in these cuisines are naturally gluten free. I would suggest being careful with these though, as I got sick later in the trip from Indian (lesson learned!).

 

Here are a few of the restaurants I ate at:

  • Life Restaurant and Bar: located in Discovery Bay, gluten free marked on the menu
  • Life Cafe: located in SoHo, gluten free marked on the menu
  • Noodlemi: Hong Kong island, gluten free marked on menu

I had a coeliac friend traveling in Hong Kong at the same time, and she recommended Pizza Express. Only one branch does gluten free--I believe its the one in Hong Kong central.

 

The Philippines

 

The Philippines was rather touch and go for me. I was in the country for a wedding, and was lucky enough to have the bride and groom arrange some gluten free meals for me ahead of time. Other than that, I lived off of a lot of eggs, garlic rice, and loads of fruit.

 

Here are a few of the restaurants I ate at:

 

  • L'Fisher Hotel: located in Bacolod. They don't have a gluten free menu in the hotel restaurant, but when I gave the waiter my restaurant card, he took it back to the chef and they were able to accommodate me.
  • 7th Note Cafe: located in Boracay, separate gluten free menu
  • Corner Tree Cafe: located in Makati (part of Manila); gluten free, vegan, and sugar free marked on the menu 

Japan

 

I was lucky to have my brother and his Japanese girlfriend. I stayed with my brother, so I could use his kitchen to prepare breakfasts and lunches, which I usually carried with me. For dinner, we stuck mainly to restaurants that offered a lot of vegetarian options. My brother and his girlfriend were able to order steamed or raw vegetables for me. I sometimes had rice if I could be guaranteed that it was purely steamed rice (no barley mixed in and not made with stock). I will point out that my Japanese restaurant card only confused wait staff and chefs.... I would have had a very difficult time eating in Japan without the help of my family members. We stayed in Fukuoka, but this seems to be the case in other parts of Japan, based on the other posts in this thread.

 

Anyway, I hope this helps future travelers. Cheers!

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glad you had a good trip. I like that  Corner Tree Cafe too. I'm also vegan as well as celiac and they really  fixed me up.

I never had problems in Japan but having had a place there for 30 years I'm used to it. Then again I suspect Tokyo is easier than Fukuoka. In Okinawa it's very easy.  Let us know if you get back again.

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Oh wow I lived in Japan for awhile. I didn't know I had a problem with gluten back then (2003) but I knew wheat made me sick.

 

I swear I had this conversation like 1000 times:

 

Me: I can't eat the bread, I'm allergic to wheat.

 

Them: Oh, you don't like bread? But you eat cookies and cake though, right?

 

Me: No, no cookies or cake or bread, I get really sick from things made from wheat. I like them, but I'm allergic.

 

Them: You don't like bread OR cookies OR CAKE ???!!!!

 

Me: No, no, I like them, I wish I could eat them, I'm just allergic. I can't.

 

Them: Oh.

 

Me: Yes.

 

Them: But you eat cookies sometimes, right?

 

Bahahahaha honest, this is what it was like! That being said, I believe rice vinegar is okay for sushi but please double check. I haven't run into wasabi with wheat but I would leave it off just in case. Finally do not eat Japanese mayo! It contains wheat :-(

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Some S&B powdered wasabi  does contain  wheat. Always ask for nama wasabi (made from  fresh root)  

If you say ko-mugi to  rai mugi  allergy and learn to pronounce it correctly most of the restaurants will understand the problem. I've never had  problems in Japan having had an office there for 30+ years. Having  gone to culinary school there I have a lot of friends with restaurants who fully understand the problem only they  dont speak any  english.  The biggest problem in other cities  or where I dont know people is that some people  just  dont know or fear communicating with foreigners no matter  how  good and bad the language skills are.  I find this true in a  lot of countries..  It really comes down to communication and when all else fails get steamed veggies or fruit! (^_^)

 

Oh wow I lived in Japan for awhile. I didn't know I had a problem with gluten back then (2003) but I knew wheat made me sick.

 

I swear I had this conversation like 1000 times:

 

Me: I can't eat the bread, I'm allergic to wheat.

 

Them: Oh, you don't like bread? But you eat cookies and cake though, right?

 

Me: No, no cookies or cake or bread, I get really sick from things made from wheat. I like them, but I'm allergic.

 

Them: You don't like bread OR cookies OR CAKE ???!!!!

 

Me: No, no, I like them, I wish I could eat them, I'm just allergic. I can't.

 

Them: Oh.

 

Me: Yes.

 

Them: But you eat cookies sometimes, right?

 

Bahahahaha honest, this is what it was like! That being said, I believe rice vinegar is okay for sushi but please double check. I haven't run into wasabi with wheat but I would leave it off just in case. Finally do not eat Japanese mayo! It contains wheat :-(

Some S&B powdered

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