Shrimp allergies and dim sum (SS/Wheaton)
My friends and I want to have dim sum in the Silver Spring/Wheaton area. One of my friends is allergic to shrimp, and the one time he tried Oriental East, almost all the dumplings seemed to have shrimp in them. Does anyone know if the same is true of the dumplings at Hollywood East Cafe? Anyone have any other dim sum recommendations in the area, where we might not encounter this problem?
We've encountered this problem at other dim sum places before. Even dumplings that were advertised as "pork dumplings" had some shrimp in them, and vegetable dishes had the little shrimp ground up and sprinkled on top as a garnish! My friend isn't a vegetarian -- he likes his meat. He just can't eat shrimp.
A & J's in Rockville does not serve any seafood that I know of. No carts, but a nice variety of dim sum off the menu.
You should be okay at Hollywood East - there are enough different dumplings to be okay, and the staff has a pretty good command of English. Truthfully though, I think you might be better off at New Fortune in Gaithersburg as there is a much large selection and therefore more options.
I'm a Registered Dietitian and used to work with kids with food allergies. First issue is how severe your friend's allergy is. With a severe allergy, I wouldn't risk going anywhere that serves seafood, unless he or someone you are with speaks perfect Chinese. In my experience, even at the most well-intentioned and informed restaurants, there is a risk of "cross-contamination". So for that reason, I think A&J might be a good choice. If he has a milder allergy, then Hollywood East or the place in Roslyn are both good choices. Lots of options and the staff speak reasonable English.
Just keep in mind that dumplings might not be the best option, as some include a pork/shrimp mixture. The pork buns, radish cake, and any of the sweet pastries would all be good options. If he'll eat it, the chicken feet and tripe are probably safe. But I would venture much beyond that with a real allergy. The sticky rice can have dried shrimp in it...avoiding shrimp is very difficult with Dim Sum.
Truthfully, all of the SS/Wheaton places I know serve quite a bit of shrimp. I've seen several dishes at Silver Fountain that are not shrimp or shrimp/pork, for what it's worth.
To be safe, though, you may want to order a little something from the regular menu to supplement your dim sum items.
Shrimp allergies (maybe all allergies) are odd. I used to eat shrimp frequently, then about 20 years ago, I discovered that it it caused great distress and discomfort, so I just stayed away. But I've discovered that that I can eat some shrimp (or maybe shrimp sometimes) and not get sick. It could be a matter of how it's prepared, how it's been stored, or where it comes from. I've learned the warning signs and I can usually tell before eating enough to get really ugly when it's going to affect me.
Sadly, I've found that most shrimp that Chinese restaurants use affect me unpleasantly so I've just accepted not doing dim sum or some of the interesting Hong Kong dumpling soups. If the friend is highly allergic to shrimp, my suggestion is to either pass on the dinner or that the group should go for something else. With a table full of little bites, it's really easy to take a bite of the wrong thing.
Well, from someone with "Shrimp allergies" here are two points.
1. They put shrimp in all kinds of Dim Sum dishes, or dishes in Hong Kong style of cooking. So, be careful when you step into a Hong Kong style restaurants (which many in Wheaton/downtown silver spring are including Hollywood) to order any dim sum dishes.
The reason A&J does not put shrimp in their won ton or other small dishes is likely because they are northern chinese or Taiwanese. You will see the same theme with Michael's noodles (one hidden gem that I think has delicate food and better decor than A&J), or momma's dumplings (unless they specifically specify shrimp dumpling).
2. Having had TONS of shrimp as a child in Asia, my first restaurant experience in the U.S. (ordering shrimp in a Chinese restaurant) ended with swollen lips, face and hives. For the last twenty years, I couldn't eat shrimp until I found 1. Live shrimp 2. Ikea shrimp (or frozen shrimp from the artic). Then three weeks ago at River Falls Market, I had a discussion with one of the managers about preservatives. He said fresh shrimp goes bad quickly unless they have preservatives put in. After trying his "natural" shrimp with a newer preservative, I had no allergies. I proceeded to Trader Joes and bought their frozen shrimp with no preservatives and it was GREAT! So now I think I am allergic to Sodium Triphosphate in shrimp. Last week I had a Pad Thai with shrimp removed after being served at a Thai place. I still have allergic reaction to the shrimp contaminated noodles. Hope that helps some people out.
Happily dining on my shrimp!!!