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L.A. restaurant recs for a shellfish allergic person?


I LOVE food and I love to eat out, but my niece is allergic to any kind of shellfish, which means Asian food is out. She is so allergic that any trace of shrimp in her food or on her dishes causes her to lungs to close up.

I want to take her out to a restaurant we haven't already been to, but she is afraid to try anything new. Any shrimp-safe restaurant ideas? The burger and pizza places are getting a bit old with her (she's 20).


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  1. Does she like Indian food? There are several Indian vegetarian places. If you want a casual place, Indian Sweets and Spices on Venice in Culver City is a good place for lunch. I'm pretty sure Samosa House, also in Culver City, further west on Washington, is also vegetarian. My cousin is allergic to shellfish so I understand how bad it can be. (she once had a salad where the kitchen, unbeknownst to her, took a piece of crab off the lettuce...after the ambulance crew stormed their restaurant I don't think they'll make that mistake again!)

    Also, if your niece is really so allergic that even a trace of shellfish will effect your niece, I'd be careful at pizza places. A lot of them have shrimp these days. Oh, you also might try barbecue places, I bet a lot of them are shellfish free. Kosher restaurants would be too, wouldn't they? (pardon me if I'm wrong about that.)

    1. How about Ethiopian? Meals By Genet is great and their menu is shellfish-free. You could also go to Rahel for vegetarian Ethiopian food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hrhboo

        Ethiopian! What a perfect idea. The only Ethiopian anything I've had was at a friend's house in Berkeley about 10 years ago. Are these places on Fairfax in the Little Ethiopia district? What to order?

        1. re: blissin

          I always get the vegetarian platter which is a selection of about a dozen different veggie preparations. You can then choose a meat dish (lovely wots and tibs, but my fave is the lamb alitcha) which is placed in the center of the platter. There are so many different things to taste and enjoy.

      2. You could also take her to a vegetarian place like Real Food Daily, California Vegan, Native Foods, Madeleine Bistro (yum!) and I think Hugo's might be able to accommodate you, but I'd call first. Also, Juliano's Raw, Inn of the Seventh Ray, Leaf Cuisine, Paru's, Mrs. Winston's might be fun because you get to *make your own* yummy salad/side platters, A Votre Santa (also worth a call to make sure they can handle it), Truly Vegan, Vegan Express, M Cafe de Chaya, and HealthyCa.

        To name a few...

        1. What about a steakhouse?
          Argentinian Carlito's Gardel, Moroccan, Ethiopan, California Chicken Cafe, Zankou Chicken, Fogo de Chao. No shellfish needed in these places.

          3 Replies
          1. re: carter

            Surf and turf? The shrimp/lobster might be cooked on the same grill, I'd ask ahead.

            1. re: carter

              most steakhouses offer shrimp cocktails and other shellfish dishes.
              it is a big leap to assume that all the cooking/cutting/preparation surfaces are completely scrubbed before going on to the next food item.... .

              1. re: carter

                I understand about the shell fish concern. My problem is with crab AND with servers who really do not understand the English language but act as if they do. Me, "I cannot eat crab. I get sick if I eat crab." Then the server smiles and says, "Oh. OK." and brings me crab. I agree with the rec. for the California Chicken Café. The best Chinese Chicken Salad in the USA is at the California Chicken Café. Oh ya, "Asian food is out." Don't worry, Chinese Chicken Salad is not really Chinese, it is an L.A. invention and nobody makes it better. When I go I ask for no pasta, no wontons (I am also having a 'BIG" problem with carbs), but I do ask for extra almonds -- so good!

                Seven locations

              2. Actually the solution to your problem is so simple I'm surprised no one has mentioned it. Just go to a Kosher restaurant which will not allow any shellfish inside their restaurant. Here are a few (east of WLA):

                Shilo's - Steakhouse

                BBC Cafe - Mediterranean

                Fish Grill - Seafood

                Nate & Al's - Deli (large menu

                There is a specific Kosher Board where you can go for more info, such as:

                8 Replies
                1. re: JBC

                  Someone had mentioned it. I would suggest Pat's, which is one of the nicer kosher restaurants around. It has nice salads and a California vibe.

                  For some reason, my earlier post got lost. In addition to the kosher places and Madeleine's Bistro, I would recommend looking at Menupix for LA Menus that do not have seafood on them.

                  For instance, for more casual fare, but not at all fast-food, the Stand in Encino and Century City has salads, hot dogs, and burgers, and none of the items appear to have shellfish. More casual, there are places like Skooby's, The Weiner Factory, and Hoagies and Wings.

                  Chili My Soul in Encino has a lot of different types of chili. Surprisingly, given the wide range of chilis that they do serve, they have never done a seafood version.

                  Also in Encino, there is a kosher sushi restaurant on Ventura, just a few doors from Katsu-Ya. I've never been, but it might be a place to introduce your niece to sushi.

                  1. re: JBC

                    Oh! I didn't realize kosher included no shellfish. I am thrilled! Kosher is a great idea- sometimes it's tough to get out of the box when you grown up with particular foods (in my family- Japanese-Hawaiian and Tex Mex = meat, meat, and lots of seafood). Thanks for the great suggestions.

                    1. re: blissin

                      I had recommended Kosher restaurants in my post up top. But I'm not an expert on Kosher, so I wasn't 100 percent sure absolutely NO shellfish is Kosher. Also, were you looking for fancy or casual places? Casual may be easier to do. I would bet some of the places in the Farmer's market would qualify. The Churrascaria place for example.

                      1. re: writergirl

                        Some of the churrascaria places have shellfish. I know Ummba grill in Century City has grilled shrimp. It also is possible that the salad bar at some of the more upscale places, e.g., Fogo de Chao, may have shellfish.

                        1. re: writergirl

                          Yes, thank you! I did see you mentioned Kosher also... Upscale or casual would suffice. Our families have been stuck in a restaurant rut since her allergy manifested about a year ago.

                          1. re: blissin

                            Yes "writergirl" did mention Kosher in her last 2 lines and I missed it, my bad. There are lists of Kosher places you can view by using (i.e) google . Menupages also has one and you can see their menus....


                      2. re: JBC

                        nate 'n al's is not kosher, but i do believe that their menu doesn't contain shellfish.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Yes your right, they don't proclaim to be Kosher and are open 7 days a week, but there's no shrimp, crab, lobster, scallops, oysters, ect. on their menu; however, IMHO I believe they lean in that direction.

                      3. As a person who has this same allergy, I can give you my experiences.

                        Most restaurants are very careful as long as you let them know that it's really a food allergy, not a fad diet issue. I eat sushi at least once a week, and they always clean the knives and cutting boards before preparing my fish if they've recently prepared shellfish. Other restaurants are generally good about it, as they don't want an ambulance at their door. It isn't good for business.

                        I would stay away from some ramen places, as they often use shellfish in their stock, some Thai curries use dried shrimp, and the better chinese places may not speak enough English to hear anything other than "shrimp" when you tell them that you're allergic to shrimp. This actually happened to me and I was proudly served shrimp as that's all they understood in the sentence.

                        I would definately stay away from Killer Shrimp, as the name isn't supposed to be taken literally.

                        Any vegan (Reall Food Daily), healthy (Newsroom), or standard fare (Grill, Daily Grill) are all very safe bets. Most Mexican or Cuban places are also good choices.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: stuartontour

                          speaking of healthy [stuart mentioned the newsroom], if you're near brentwood, 'a votre sante' on san vicente [@ 26th street] would be a great choice. tasty food, generous portions, moderate prices, a very varied menu...and no shellfish at all.

                        2. Actually, there are certain countries in Asia that are land-locked and therefore do not include seafood. You might want to check out Laotian, Mongolian or Nepalese cuisine.

                          1. For Asian food, there are a lot of vegetarian Chinese places in LA, some of which even have vegetarian shrimp and scallops if she wants to (sort of) see what she's missing. I am veg anyway, but have been allergic to shellfish since I was very young (fortunately, my eyes only swell shut, which is better than the lungs I guess). I was pretty sensitive to this when I was young; places where they grilled stuff on the table was the only real problem for me, though. With Thai and Vietnamese food, I'd be very careful of shrimp paste.

                            There are also a lot of veg Thai places and a few veg Viet places that may also be worth checking out.

                            I'll second the comment about most restaurants taking food allergies seriously - I think it's possible to go to some places besides pizza and burgers.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: will47

                              I'll have to look into the veggie Chinese places. My niece isn't comfortable with a lot of the Asian eateries because of the fish sauce (Nuoc Mam, Nam Pla) used to season the food. Even if there isn't actual shrimp in the dishes, more likely than not the stuff is flavored with a sauce or broth that contains shellfish (esp. Thai and Vietnamese). I wonder what the veggie places use to flavor the food if not with Nam Pla?

                              I agree there are TONS of great places besides pizza and burgers (well, I was speaking figuratively anyway) to eat at.. and outside of our family's tried-and-tested batch of restaurants. But it can also be tricky venturing out and "trying" new places, especially on recommendations from people who aren't shrimp allergic themselves (none of us are).

                              Lots of brilliant suggestions on this board we might not have thought of (esp. the Kosher joints- who knew?).

                              1. re: blissin

                                I have seen veggie shrimp paste and fish sauce sold, but I think most of those places use other stuff. Vinh Loi Tofu (Viet place in the valley that I definitely recommend checking out) makes his "nuoc cham" out of coconut juice, vinegar and a tiny bit of chili (or something like that... ask him, and he'll tell you). He sells a vegetarian fish sauce but says that he doesn't actually use it.

                                As far as Thai veg places, there are those ".... Vegan" places that have sprung up like cockroaches around the city. The menu isn't entirely Thai, but the restaurants are Thai-owned, and the Thai food at most of them is at least decent. There is probably one near wherever you live.

                                Most asian veg places use some fake meat with small amounts of dairy or egg in it, even if they say they don't, but all the food should be reliably free of even small amounts of shellfish.

                                For more "meaty" Chinese food, there is a Kosher Chinese place next to Nagila Pizza in WLA.

                                Places like Toi Thai might be Americanized enough - I know they can make some curries with no fish sauce / shrimp paste. You'd have to make sure each curry is made in a new pot, but might be worth looking into.

                                btw, here is a list of veggie C places in the SGV I made a while back, with some recommendations for which ones are good. I think I missed the one in Covina.


                                For Vietnamese places, there aren't a lot - the one I really liked closed a while back. The one in the Valley that I mentioned above is pretty good - their noodle soup is good and tasty, if suspiciously thirst inducing. There is one waaaaaay south on Rosemead or Garvey, which I remember being so-so, but haven't been there for a while.