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Does Elite (MPk) use peanut oil?

Came here for dim sum last Saturday and I was so excited since I've heard such great things about Elite here.
But my 9-year-old nephew barely got a bite of the pork bun when his throat started closing up. This only happens with peanuts, he has a very serious allergy (any peanut product, peanut oil, etc). The manager angrily insisted "no peanut oil! only corn oil!" but meanwhile, we had to run out to the car to hurriedly get my poor little nephew some Benadryl before his LUNGS started to close up. He doesn't get this immediate reaction unless he's actually ingested peanuts. If it's merely contact (say, if a cook touched peanuts then touched the pork bun) it wouldn't have been so bad. Needless to say, we told them we were leaving.

Still the manager remained insensitive and charged us for the two dishes we had ordered, "No! We never use peanut oil!" Luckily it was only $4.60.

I would like to know if anyone else allergic to peanuts has been here, and if they experienced a reaction.
Could it have been only the pork buns? Do they put peanuts or peanut oil in the meat or the dough?

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  1. And also just in case, does anyone know of any dim sum restaurants or Chinese restaurants that use peanut oil? I like to share my food finds with my family but I definitely don't want to take the chance this might happen again...

    1. frankly, i would be surprised if any chinese restaurant worth their weight in salt did not use peanut oil. then again, that is just me.

      2 Replies
      1. re: wilafur

        I agree. There are peanut products used throughout Chinese cooking, and if a restaurant doesn't use peanut oil I feel they're cutting corners...

        1. re: wilafur

          My nephews (both allergic to peanuts, one severe) have eaten at many Chinese restaurants, both dim sum and not. In fact, many of them do not use peanut oil. Including: Din Tai Fung, Triumphal Palace, Mandarin Noodle Deli, Full House, Dumpling House, 888, Sea Harbour, ...
          we're Asian, we eat Chinese a lot. The trick is figuring out which places are safe. I'm hoping other Hounders can help me in that search.

        2. I don't know the answer to your question but as a side note I will add that peanut oil is considered to be the best oil for cooking Chinese food. It does cost more than other oils used for this cuisine and I have seen numerous large (35 pound) boxes of cheaper oils like soybean in both Chinese kitchens and dumpsters behind restaurants.

          1. If it was a steamed pork bun, then I doubt they used peanut oil. If it was baked, I don't think they would use it. To me, peanut oil has a very strong flavor which would overwhelm those dishes. Oil would more likely be used in a stir-fry dish. One of my kids is also allergic to peanuts but has not experienced any problems with Elite's dim sum or dinner. I think a better possibility is cross-contamination, because I know they use peanuts for some of their dishes. For example, their Phoenix Claws (aka chicken feet) have peanuts in the sauce.

            Peanut oil has historically been more expensive than corn oil, which is why many Chinese restaurants used corn oil for a long time. With the high price of corn oil, I don't know about now.

            2 Replies
            1. re: raytamsgv

              Okay, I am glad to report back on this thread after a recent family dinner at Elite (about which my nephew was understandably nervous, but it's ok all went well). I know it's not the dim sum, but I think I may have solved the mystery.
              At dinner they put a plate of PEANUTS on EVERY SINGLE TABLE! And not only that but they are adamant and kept trying to put the peanuts on our table like 3 or 4 times and we had to keep frantically waving them away.

              We had a variety of foods and my nephews did not have a problem. So it probably was cross-contamination. Though the prevalence of peanuts in their restaurant might be something to watch out for, if you happen to be allergic. Just bring your epi-pen or whatever. The food was excellent!

              1. re: CookieEater

                Honestly, if you have a language barrier, you have to think twice about whether you're getting the full story. I cannot imagine a Chinese restaurant without peanuts in it somewhere. Groundnut (peanut) oil is probably THE most common frying oil in a Chinese restaurant because of its high smoke point.

                I'm glad you had no further issues. If it's helpful, the Cantonese for peanut is "faa sang" -- there was a useful thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/528176 a while back.

                Be aware that I accidentally left out a character in the original post.

            2. Even if they don't use peanut oil (doubtful) nearly every processed (canned, packaged) food sold wholesale to restaurants is produced in a facility that processes nuts. Please also note the absence of an A rating on the front door. This may have nothing to do with food quality (Elite is tasty) but for those with serious allergies, it's worth thinking twice.

              6 Replies
              1. re: tablefor1

                An "A" rating has no correlation to any type of allergies or normal cross-contamination of food. Food safety rules prohibit cross-contamination between uncooked and cooked foods, not between cooked foods. If a cook uses a spatula to move the contents of one wok onto a dish and uses the same spatula for another wok, it is not considered cross-contamination.

                1. re: tablefor1

                  You can have an A rating and still have peanuts in places they don't belong. There's nothing at all in the health rules about food allergies or keeping potential allergens isolated -- and if you don't believe me, go to http://lapublichealth.org/rating and look it up.

                  I personally (caution: heavily-rehashed topic ahead) wouldn't trust a Chinese restaurant with an A rating. Other than Panda Whatever and P. F. Changs, I don't think I've ever eaten in one.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    Ditto, you must know the secret code to ratings for Chinese places...lol

                    1. re: justagthing

                      No great secret... A = Americans Only, B = Best bet, C = Chinese Only.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Yes for those in the know, but you can tell that there are still many that don't.

                    2. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Yes, and the LA Times even had a story about it once. They said that Chinese restaurants probably don't get A ratings because of the sheer amount of different ingredients they have on hand (I don't have the URL available).