Before I went gluten free, I was the queen of going out to eat. I loved trying new restaurants and spent hours combing through Zagat’s to find new spots to try. When I found out about my gluten allergy, eating out at restaurants became difficult and seemed like more of a chore than a pastime. It is stressful wondering whether the restaurant is truly following proper food handling and eliminating the items I am sensitive to. Given the recent news that the former chef of Tavern on the Green in NYC was knowingly giving guests gluten, I guess my fears are valid!
The anxiety of wondering what is truly being put into food preparation is one thing. I was also embarrassed to call attention to my allergy and tried to pick menu options I knew were gluten free so I didn’t need to ask the waiter a million questions. As I’ve gotten more used to living with food allergies, I feel more comfortable going out to restaurants and asking lots of questions. And it’s great to see a lot of restaurants are catching on to the growing number of gluten intolerant folks and creating separate gluten free menus.
Tons of Italian restaurants are offering gluten free pasta options, like Francesca’s and Maggiano’s. In Chicago, Quartino’s, has the best gluten free menu I’ve ever seen. Gotta love any place that offers gluten free braised short ribs!
While it’s fairly easy to get my Italian fix, Chinese food is still pretty tough to find since soy sauce is derived from wheat and contains gluten. As hard as it is to find safe menu options in American style restaurants, I pretty much gave up hope of ever eating at a Chinese restaurant again. I was greatly surprised and happy to see that PF Chang’s has an amazing and extensive gluten free menu, using gluten free soy sauce to make all of their dishes. I went with a big group and we ordered everything off the gluten free menu and shared. Even the gluten eaters loved every bite! A couple other larger chains, like Ben Pao and Big Bowl also have gluten free menus which I haven’t had the opportunity to test out yet. While I don’t think I’ll be walking into the local spots in Chinatown any time soon, it’s great to know I have a place to go next time I get a craving for Moo Goo Gai Pan. Now if I could only figure out how to make gluten free vegan Crab Rangoon….
If you're looking to make chinese food at home, I like San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce which can be found at most local grocery stores. I found mine at Dominick's.