I was planning to join some colleagues for dinner while traveling for business. A suggestion was made for a local Chinese restaurant that is well renown.
I immediately felt my own internal panic start.
Chinese? Really? Do we have to?
Don't get me wrong. I used to love going out for Chinese food!
But after going gluten-free, that love faded and twisted and sagged into near apathy.
The questions started galloping through my mind.
What hoops would I have to jump through to eat safely and gluten-free?
How much explaining would I have to do?
Will they understand?
Not just no soy sauce. No sauces. No batters. Nothing fried.
Chef Chu's in Los Altos, CA knows all about gluten-free Chinese food!
And then I called them. I needed to find out if they could accommodate my gluten-free needs in some way.
At first the thick-accented, Chinese-sounding lady on the phone didn't quite understand what I was asking about. So, I explained it again.
"Oh, yes! We can make anything gluten-free, except the beef dishes. The beef is marinated in regular soy sauce before cooking. We can make everything else with gluten-free tamari sauce." All in a thick Chinese accent.
Really? Anything but beef dishes in a Chinese restaurant?
I had to ask again, just to be sure.
And, yes, she assured me, they could make my meal gluten-free. Now, I was more than just interested to go to dinner. I was excited!
But I was still a bit hesitant. Would my choices be limited to only one or two safe dishes?
After we were seated in the restaurant, I opened the menu. I browsed it. It was large, with many, many choices. Typical Chinese menu.
The lady on the phone said I can have anything but beef? Really? All these things, made with gluten-free tamari?
Could that be right?
And then my colleague pointed to the bottom corner of the menu. Right there on the menu, they advertised that they can make most dishes with gluten-free tamari sauce! Hurrray!
And the waiters were especially well-informed and helpful. For every dish that was ordered, the waiter made it extremely clear to everyone at the table which things I could have and which things I could not have.
This was the easiest gluten-free meal I have ever ordered!
Our hot and sour soup was made gluten-free for the entire table.
The rest of our dishes were made either glutenous for my colleagues to share between themselves, or gluten-free for me.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my beautiful Kung Pao Calamari dish. It was beautiful! The calamari was cut such that it was twisted up on itself, with little cut fringes around the edges. I've never seen calamari presented so nicely!
Oh, I wish I had gotten that picture!
But actually, I'm not that worried. I know I will go back.
In fact, I already have.
A couple of days later, I had a lunch date with a dear, not-long-lost friend. I'm gluten-free and she is vegetarian.
You should have seen the look on our waiter's face. Everything ordered was to be gluten-free and vegetarian.
But no worries! Everything we ordered came to us just as we ordered, and we both ate safely!
How beautiful is that?!
Beautiful enough to get you to try Chef Chu's next time you are within 50 miles of it.
Gluten-free Chinese food is here!