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Singapore


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#1 Sandy1003

 
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Posted 11 July 2011 - 06:28 PM

Hi all,

I am in day 5 of my 18 day visit to Singapore, and so far I have found it to be quite difficult to eat gluten-free here. I thought it would be much easier: I didn't expect much food here to be so wheat-based, Singapore is an english speaking country, and it's a global mecca of cuisine. So imagine my surprise that I got glutened on the very first thing I ate: Chicken rice. Some recipes call for soy sauce and others don't. Aparently this one did, although the vendor told me it was just chicken, rice, and spices.

Some things that I have learned by being here:

1) Real chinese food is fried. The hawkers stands sell just about everything that you could want, battered and deep fried. Also, dim sum, noodles, spring rolls, and buns abound.
2) Soy sauce is used in everything. Even if it doesn't seem like it should be, it's in there.
3) Many of the Indian food places serve fried foods that are battered in chickpea or lentil flour, which is great until you realize that they use this same flour and frying for their vegetarian dishes, which the "meat" is wheat gluten.
4) Although technically an English speaking country, many Singaporians speak Chinese, Maylay, or Tamil as their preferred language, and about 20% of the blue-colar workforce are from another surrounding country. This can make communicating a food allergy very difficult.
5) The groceries here do not have many western foods, and what they do have is extremely expensive. gluten-free staples that I take for granted in the US, such as corn tortillas, simply don't exist. The items in the stores are somewhat limited. Although there are a few gluten-free products that I have seen shipped from Australia, there is not much. I have been mostly eating fruit, vegetables, chicken, and rice that I've prepared at home. This has made it very boring and depressing when I have gone to restaurants with my family and had to sit there while everyone else ate because the only thing I could have was water.
6) Servers do not get tipped in Singapore, so they don't necessarily have the drive to please customers that they may in other countries. In a few restaurants I've been to (an Italian and a German restaurant) when I told the servers that I could not eat wheat and to please check with the kitchen for me, they looked at me very confused and I had to explain my allergy before begrudgingly going to the kitchen. Not only did it seem like a nuisance for them, but they honestly looked like they had never heard of a food allergy before. Obviously that is never a good sign.
7) There is a dearth of information on gluten-free friendly places in Singapore. I've searched online and the only restaurant I found was one called Cedele. However, upon reading a review, someone said that their "wheat free" products are made with spelt (which still has gluten in it!)

I figure that I've gotten hit and will keep on getting hit even if I try to avoid gluten. My symptoms include DH, which means that I am already going to be miserable for the rest of my trip. So, I've made the decision that for the next 2 weeks, I'm not even going to try. I've always been an adventurous eater and passionate about food, and since I've been gluten-free, I have denied myself many things that I would otherwise enjoy. Therefore, I am going to try to enjoy the food that is here despite the fact that it's making me sick. It's a difficult decision, but I feel like I would be more upset if I never tried real dim sum or curry laksa instead opting for a green salad that will probably make me sick anyway or sitting and watching the rest of my family eat while I have a pear that I smuggled from home.
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#2 Gfreeatx

 
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Posted 11 July 2011 - 07:14 PM

I'm so sorry you are having such a rough trip. I went to Singapore years ago before my diagnosis, but I do remember some more western restaurants there when I went such as Morton's steakhouse. You may need to seek those types of restaurants out more than the traditional cuisine. Wishing you better days of health and eating for the rest of your trip!!
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#3 Sandy1003

 
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Posted 12 July 2011 - 02:37 AM

Thanks for the advice and well wishes! Sorry to vent but it has been quite frustrating. My brother who I'm visiting here has tried to be very accommodating but it's still been a challenge. Hopefully it will get better! I chickened out today and ordered risotto when we went for lunch. So strange how much of a fear of food you develop when you have this! :(
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#4 Gfreeatx

 
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Posted 12 July 2011 - 09:29 AM

I completely understand. I was telling my husband how hard it can be to try and relax when going out to eat since my diagnosis. You have to put your trust and your health in someone else's hands and hope they care enough to not get you sick. I have always loved food and going out to dinner so it's been a tough adjustment for me. Hope the rest of your trip goes much better! :)
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#5 Maggie Mermaid

 
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Posted 15 July 2011 - 10:17 PM

For cooking at home, there are chinese rice noodles that are made from rice powder and water. They can be found fresh & soft or dried in packages in the market. They can be used like pasta or in a homemade stir-fry.

For eating out, look into traditional Vietnamese food, they have dishes that do not call for soy sauce. Plain soft white rice paper wrappers are used for spring rolls (usually contains raw veggies, maybe boiled shrimp or shredded pork). They also have rice noodle dish called Bún Chả that's a bowl with a bed of rice noodles topped with raw shredded lettuce & grilled meat or veggies accompanied by a small dish of sauce (traditional ingredients are fish sauce, sugar, water). Pho soup is a really great clear seasoned broth with rice noodles, thinly sliced beef of different types and optional raw veggie garnish (bean sprouts, thai basil, jalapenos). I underlined traditional because sometimes a chef might cater to local tastes and add soy sauce but it's not a traditional in the above-mentioned dishes.

Just some thoughts. Good luck!
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Enlarged thyroid with nodules and Hashimoto's diagnosed 2007. Self-diagnosed as gluten-intolerant.

Husband is gluten-intolerant, also self-diagnosed, suffered from severe eczema which has largely disappeared since avoiding wheat, corn, tomatoes, tree nuts.

#6 kenlove

 
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Posted 16 July 2011 - 05:38 PM

In little India you can order palak paneer ( Spinach and cheese or just the palak ( spinach)
Saag -- mixed greens or more common things like aloo gobi which is just the veggies, - It worked for me there. Also many chinese places just served me steamed veggies and rice. I usually came with a few citrus to use as sauce-- Have even used white wine as sauce on steamed veggies --gadogado should be safe if you find it too. I dont trust the peanut sauces.
Also in little India you have to make sure its only channa Bessam -- the chick pea flour - -sometimes its mixed with other flours there-- ask about ragi -- millet flour too. thast usually 100% millet and they can make some great flat breads like roti or dosa.
good luck

Hi all,

I am in day 5 of my 18 day visit to Singapore, and so far I have found it to be quite difficult to eat gluten-free here. I thought it would be much easier: I didn't expect much food here to be so wheat-based, Singapore is an english speaking country, and it's a global mecca of cuisine. So imagine my surprise that I got glutened on the very first thing I ate: Chicken rice. Some recipes call for soy sauce and others don't. Aparently this one did, although the vendor told me it was just chicken, rice, and spices.

Some things that I have learned by being here:

1) Real chinese food is fried. The hawkers stands sell just about everything that you could want, battered and deep fried. Also, dim sum, noodles, spring rolls, and buns abound.
2) Soy sauce is used in everything. Even if it doesn't seem like it should be, it's in there.
3) Many of the Indian food places serve fried foods that are battered in chickpea or lentil flour, which is great until you realize that they use this same flour and frying for their vegetarian dishes, which the "meat" is wheat gluten.
4) Although technically an English speaking country, many Singaporians speak Chinese, Maylay, or Tamil as their preferred language, and about 20% of the blue-colar workforce are from another surrounding country. This can make communicating a food allergy very difficult.
5) The groceries here do not have many western foods, and what they do have is extremely expensive. gluten-free staples that I take for granted in the US, such as corn tortillas, simply don't exist. The items in the stores are somewhat limited. Although there are a few gluten-free products that I have seen shipped from Australia, there is not much. I have been mostly eating fruit, vegetables, chicken, and rice that I've prepared at home. This has made it very boring and depressing when I have gone to restaurants with my family and had to sit there while everyone else ate because the only thing I could have was water.
6) Servers do not get tipped in Singapore, so they don't necessarily have the drive to please customers that they may in other countries. In a few restaurants I've been to (an Italian and a German restaurant) when I told the servers that I could not eat wheat and to please check with the kitchen for me, they looked at me very confused and I had to explain my allergy before begrudgingly going to the kitchen. Not only did it seem like a nuisance for them, but they honestly looked like they had never heard of a food allergy before. Obviously that is never a good sign.
7) There is a dearth of information on gluten-free friendly places in Singapore. I've searched online and the only restaurant I found was one called Cedele. However, upon reading a review, someone said that their "wheat free" products are made with spelt (which still has gluten in it!)

I figure that I've gotten hit and will keep on getting hit even if I try to avoid gluten. My symptoms include DH, which means that I am already going to be miserable for the rest of my trip. So, I've made the decision that for the next 2 weeks, I'm not even going to try. I've always been an adventurous eater and passionate about food, and since I've been gluten-free, I have denied myself many things that I would otherwise enjoy. Therefore, I am going to try to enjoy the food that is here despite the fact that it's making me sick. It's a difficult decision, but I feel like I would be more upset if I never tried real dim sum or curry laksa instead opting for a green salad that will probably make me sick anyway or sitting and watching the rest of my family eat while I have a pear that I smuggled from home.


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"Ryo tatereba mi ga tatanu"

If we try to serve both sides, we cannot stand our own ground.

Japanese proverb

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

#7 amber

 
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Posted 22 July 2011 - 04:00 PM

We were in Singapore last year for a stop over with our daughter (aged 13) who is a celiac. We were there for 1 night on the way and 1 night on the way back form Europe. I agree with you that there is very little understanding of gluten free in Singapore. We went to the hotel restaurant and whilst the chef was very helpful he kept insisting that their soy sauce was gluten free because it was good quality soy sauce. I asked to see the bottle and showed him where it said wheat. He then made up a rice noodle dish for our daughter using garlic and sweet chilli sauce. It was fine and he did try very hard to please. Otherwise we had to resort to McDonalds fries and shakes for snacks. Also we had Nandos chicken. This is an Australian grilled chicken chain. The chicken and many other items are gluten free in Australia and marked as such on the menus here. I enquired before we went and they told me that the chicken is gluten free in SIngapore as well. I am not 100% convinced this is the case as it was different in taste. She did not have a reaction but then again she is not sensitive.

If only soy sauce was gluten free it would make it so much easier because you could have rice and rice noodle dishes or the chicken rice you mentioned without worrying about getting glutened. You could take along your own bottle of Tamari or gluten free soy sauce. Fountain Brand Soy Sauce which is an Australian brand may be available at the supermarkets there. I did notice in Cold Storage a few gluten free items but not much at all.

Indian food is probably your best best or going to a western style restaurant and have steak. Good luck with the rest of your stay there and if you do have a gluten free discovery pleasre share it with us.
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#8 kenlove

 
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Posted 22 July 2011 - 07:42 PM

HI AMber, I'm curious what hotel you were at where the chef was so helpful.
Thanks

We were in Singapore last year for a stop over with our daughter (aged 13) who is a celiac. We were there for 1 night on the way and 1 night on the way back form Europe. I agree with you that there is very little understanding of gluten free in Singapore. We went to the hotel restaurant and whilst the chef was very helpful he kept insisting that their soy sauce was gluten free because it was good quality soy sauce. I asked to see the bottle and showed him where it said wheat. He then made up a rice noodle dish for our daughter using garlic and sweet chilli sauce. It was fine and he did try very hard to please. Otherwise we had to resort to McDonalds fries and shakes for snacks. Also we had Nandos chicken. This is an Australian grilled chicken chain. The chicken and many other items are gluten free in Australia and marked as such on the menus here. I enquired before we went and they told me that the chicken is gluten free in SIngapore as well. I am not 100% convinced this is the case as it was different in taste. She did not have a reaction but then again she is not sensitive.

If only soy sauce was gluten free it would make it so much easier because you could have rice and rice noodle dishes or the chicken rice you mentioned without worrying about getting glutened. You could take along your own bottle of Tamari or gluten free soy sauce. Fountain Brand Soy Sauce which is an Australian brand may be available at the supermarkets there. I did notice in Cold Storage a few gluten free items but not much at all.

Indian food is probably your best best or going to a western style restaurant and have steak. Good luck with the rest of your stay there and if you do have a gluten free discovery pleasre share it with us.


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"Ryo tatereba mi ga tatanu"

If we try to serve both sides, we cannot stand our own ground.

Japanese proverb

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

#9 amber

 
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Posted 26 July 2011 - 04:46 AM

HI AMber, I'm curious what hotel you were at where the chef was so helpful.
Thanks



Hi Ken,

It was the Swissotel and the restaurant was Kopitiam. They did try hard to please and the chef came to our table to talk to us. He did not have much knowledge of gluten free food though but was happy for me to discuss it with him and for him to show us the sauces he was using. There is little knowledge of celiac disease which is understandable really as the rate of celiac disease in Asia is so low. Having said that places such as Singapore have many tourists that visit and have special dietary requirements so it is in their best interests to learn.
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#10 Eureka coeliac

 
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Posted 03 October 2012 - 03:47 AM

I found Singapore to be a little challenging also on my recent vacation.
I found eating at home easiest, and then while out and about fruit salad was a common option with a soy latte to keep my going. The restaurant Boomerang looked after me and they were familiar with gluten free, but many places had not heard of it. However, I share my amazing experience at one venue.

I sent an email to mosin-melt@mohg.com and requested a reservation and advice re gluten free options.Contacting them in advance is a good idea.
I would highly recommend dining here as the buffet and alacarte menu looked magnificent, and we enjoyed our food a lot. I enjoyed
smoked salmon with young masculine and lemon dressing for entree
pan seared chicken breast with young asparagus olive crushed potatoes and light jus
seasonal fruit platter with sorbet (lime, strawberry, lychee) with other sorbet flabours

there was another magnificent main option

we booked at 6.30, sat outside which we liked; and perhaps arriving early meant less busy and better service, but our waiter was exceptional, provided a very personal service, on first name basis, and expertly assisted with choosing meals - and the chef asked us did our meals meet our expectations. they exceeded mine, magnificent food prepared by chef fully aware of Coeliac disease and gluten free.
The hotel environment and service looked amazing. If you need gluten free dining, and fantastic food and service is to your liking, then choose MELT. I found it on open table via a google search. I hope this helps
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#11 Evn

 
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Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:33 PM

Otherwise we had to resort to McDonalds fries and shakes for snacks.


Be careful! McDonald's french fries are NOT Gluten-free! I don't know what else they fry in the same oil (possibly nothing?) but here is the ingredient list directly from McDonald's website:


French Fries:
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid
pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to
preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK.
*(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).

They're not gluten-free or dairy-free. In fact, they're not even meat-free.
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#12 kareng

 
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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:29 PM

Be careful! McDonald's french fries are NOT Gluten-free! I don't know what else they fry in the same oil (possibly nothing?) but here is the ingredient list directly from McDonald's website:


French Fries:
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid
pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to
preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK.
*(Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).

They're not gluten-free or dairy-free. In fact, they're not even meat-free.


This thread is about Singapore. are those the ingredients from the website for Singapore? You live in Singapore or have knowledge about places to eat there? Please share that. Ingredients and cooking practices are often different in different countries.

In the US, McD's fries are considered gluten-free. There are several threads on here with the full explanation of that.
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#13 kenlove

 
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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:57 PM

Thanks much, good to know about Swissotel. Our hotels in Hawaii average about 15% of the guests have some special dietary requirement. When I was first diagnosed almost 8 years ago it was less than 1%
take care

Hi Ken,

It was the Swissotel and the restaurant was Kopitiam. They did try hard to please and the chef came to our table to talk to us. He did not have much knowledge of gluten free food though but was happy for me to discuss it with him and for him to show us the sauces he was using. There is little knowledge of celiac disease which is understandable really as the rate of celiac disease in Asia is so low. Having said that places such as Singapore have many tourists that visit and have special dietary requirements so it is in their best interests to learn.


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"Ryo tatereba mi ga tatanu"

If we try to serve both sides, we cannot stand our own ground.

Japanese proverb

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

#14 amber

 
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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:27 PM

Thanks much, good to know about Swissotel. Our hotels in Hawaii average about 15% of the guests have some special dietary requirement. When I was first diagnosed almost 8 years ago it was less than 1%
take care


Hi Ken,

We were recently in the USA (visiting from Australia) and managed fine but only because I did alot of research beforehand. We went to celiac friendly places - Disneyland, New York and a cruise on Royal Carribbean's Oasis of the Seas. It is our 15 year old daughter who is the celiac in the family.We ate mostly in chain restaurants such as PJ Changs and Outbacks steakhouse and some nicer restaurants in NYC that specalise in gluten-free such as Risotteria. Disneyland caters really well and so does Royal Carribbean. I wonder how we would have fared outside those places? I found that the US is about 10 years behind Australia in terms of awareness, maybe more. Here you see gluten free everywhere even in small towns and many restaurants mark gluten-free dishes on the menu. We would love to visit Hawaii and I think we would manage fine even if we did have to stick to chain restaurants again. I haven't been to Hawaii since our honeymoon over 20 years ago. I bought a 'Hawaii' beach towel which I have been using for 20 years and it finally has worn out so I really need to go back and buy a new one!! That's a good enough reason to go back! It definately seems by what you have said that the awareness in Hawaii is improving also. I seem to remember that you are one of the reasons that it has improved so much. Keep up the good work!
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#15 kenlove

 
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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:23 AM

By All means, come back to hawaii -- If you visit the Big Island I'll make sure my chef friends take care of things-- Ohau too for that matter. When i was first Diagnosed almost 8 years ago, none of the chefs here including me knew a thing about celiac -- only peanut or shellfish allergy which was rare then too. Now, 12% of the guests at resort hotels require some dietary need like gluten free or vegan etc. etc.

I tend to agree that the US is behind, They know its in vogue but they dont know what it means, hence you have to be careful. Still I can almost always find something I can eat. There are a few places i dont go into where there is flour in the air etc. bakeries and pizza places etc. Almost everyplace has Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese places where I can get plain steamed veggies/tofu and a hot sauce which is fine by me. Being vegan complicates things at times but Im used to it now. -- In any case, hope you can make it here next year and pick up that beach towel. We've been talking about coming down there too. Been darn near everyplace else for work ..
take care


Hi Ken,

We were recently in the USA (visiting from Australia) and managed fine but only because I did alot of research beforehand. We went to celiac friendly places - Disneyland, New York and a cruise on Royal Carribbean's Oasis of the Seas. It is our 15 year old daughter who is the celiac in the family.We ate mostly in chain restaurants such as PJ Changs and Outbacks steakhouse and some nicer restaurants in NYC that specalise in gluten-free such as Risotteria. Disneyland caters really well and so does Royal Carribbean. I wonder how we would have fared outside those places? I found that the US is about 10 years behind Australia in terms of awareness, maybe more. Here you see gluten free everywhere even in small towns and many restaurants mark gluten-free dishes on the menu. We would love to visit Hawaii and I think we would manage fine even if we did have to stick to chain restaurants again. I haven't been to Hawaii since our honeymoon over 20 years ago. I bought a 'Hawaii' beach towel which I have been using for 20 years and it finally has worn out so I really need to go back and buy a new one!! That's a good enough reason to go back! It definately seems by what you have said that the awareness in Hawaii is improving also. I seem to remember that you are one of the reasons that it has improved so much. Keep up the good work!


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"Ryo tatereba mi ga tatanu"

If we try to serve both sides, we cannot stand our own ground.

Japanese proverb

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator




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