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Knowledge of Celiac / Gluten Intolerance in Maui?

This might be a longshot but how's the awareness of gluten intolerance and celiac disease in general in Maui and Hawaii in general? I ask because my wife is celiac and with the amount of Asian influence in the cooking I'm worried about how prevalent soy sauce (usually fermented with wheat) is in local cuisine.

Hula Grill seems to be the only place I've seen that makes specific options available for celiacs but are there any others?

I would assume that at the higher end the kitchens would be aware of gluten intolerance but am more worries about more everyday food. It's still a challenge for us sometimes to explain celiac disease to waitstaff/owners when eating out.

Hula Grill - Kaanapali
2435 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, HI 96761

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  1. I cannot speak to your exact question, as that would take a survey of most Hawaii chefs, to discern. However, I can attest to the individual chefs' attention to dietary restraints.

    Wife is allergic to bi-valves, so no oysters, scallops, mussels or clams for her, even in a broth.

    We contact each restaurant, and express this issue. ALL have come through with flying colors.

    I would advise against just showing up, and expecting a glute-free menu. Call, or e-mail, and ask.

    Good luck, and travel safely,


    1. A carpenter that worked on a couple of my projects had celiac, although he never used that word with me. it was a real problem for him, even in Honolulu. This was back in the late 90's and admittedly things have gotten better since then. Still I think you would have to be pretty specific about what products you think they may not take into account, such as soy sauce, etc. Most of the better spots will definitely try to work with you, especially if you give them advance warning and specific requirements/concerns.

      1 Reply
      1. re: KaimukiMan

        My co-worker has Crohn's which is really restrictive. She recently went to Town and told the server she had dietary restrictions. Asked what she couldn't eat it finally was asked "what CAN you eat?" and from there she had a wonderful meal with no problem at all.

      2. Thanks for the reports everyone! I'm having a fun time trying to sort out places to eat with the mrs during our stay in Honolulu and on Maui.

        1 Reply
        1. re: CoffeeAddict416

          Aloha CoffeeAddict!
          Would love to hear more about your research and any great gluten free meals you find on Maui. Mahalo!

        2. Unfortunately, this isn't directly relevant to Mauai, but Kauai, a smaller, less touristy island, is surprisingly celiac friendly. Java Kai, a Kauai mini chain with excellent coffee, has a lot of gluten free baked goods. Sweet Marie's is a gluten free bakery. Hukilau Lanai has a gluten free tasting menu. Kilauea Bakery & Pau Hana Pizza in Kilauea offers gluten free pizza. A number of small cafes and restaurants have footnotes at the bottom of the menu about gluten free products being available.

          It's always helpful to carry a list with a list of ingredients you CANNOT have when you travel and remind the kitchen of cross contamination risks (i.e. with grills, frying oil, cutting boards, etc...) if you are very sensitive. My sense is that a lot of restaurants are at least aware of the issue, though, even, even if some places make very silly mistakes. (Living Foods in Koloa grilled the fish in a fish taco.... but served it on a flour tortilla.) Just stay alert.

          , Kamuela, HI 96743

          Hukilau Lanai
          , Kapaa, HI 96746

          1. thanks again for those who replied
            i'll try and fashion together an overall report on how it all went!

              1. Just wanted to report in with our food experiences as they pertain to gluten intolerance / celiac disease in the hopes it'll help other people out! I should preface this by saying my wife is the one that is celiac and she is fairly sensitive to gluten so the fact that she didn't get sick once on our trip should assure people that the places we went to did their best to accomodate us. I should also add that we were travelling with an infant so it meant we didn't get to do many of the dinner spots that were recommended on the forum unfortunately!

                The first day we were in Honolulu and got in fairly late. After checking into the Sheraton Waikiki we just went outside the hotel for some Maui Tacos from the food court. I have to say that their knowledge of gluten intolerance was fantastic. The tacos themselves were pretty tasty as well. I was expecting something mediocre but got some great food! We had the Baja, Soft Grilled Fish, and the original with chicken. The fact that the vast majority of Toronto taco joints would be crushed by this food court taco shop is just shameful.

                Breakfast the next day was at Wailana Coffee House which I would compare to a more mom and pop like Denny's. American-style breakfast with a Hawaii twist. The service here was fantastic and the waitress, although not 100% sure about gluten, did her best to try and find things my wife could eat. We went with the usual when not 100% sure and got an omelet. I had french toast stuffed with gauva. I would say breakfast was not bad. It wasn't completely memorable but the price tag and the service would have had us coming back if we were staying longer.

                Lunch this day was at Morimoto Waikiki. As mentioned before on this forum, the service was a bit lacking but very friendly. They had forgotten our drinks order and their menu knowledge left a little to be desired but the friendliness went a long way to keep us happy. My wife had the chirashi which they made sure was gluten free and they even had wheat-free tamari on hand! It had 14 varieties of fish and it was cut poke-style into cubes. The chirashi was very very good by all accounts. I had the braised pork belly which wasn't as exciting as i hoped it would be. I had some kalua pork later in the trip that I thought gave it a fair run for its money. Pricing was fairly reasonable as well. I think our bill with dessert and drinks was about $80 after tax and tip.

                Dinner was a last minute decision and unfortunately we went for PF Changs as they have a gluten free menu and it was something we don't have back home and we could do take out and eat in the room. WHAT A MISTAKE! This was some of the worst "Chinese" food i've ever had. I've had americanized chinese food from a random hole in the wall that would have killed this place. It's disgraceful that this place was PACKED! There are only two restaurants in toronto that i know of that serve gluten free chinese and both of them would have run PF Changs out of business a long time ago based on the quality of food.

                Breakfast the next day was at Hula Grill. The setting here on the patio overlooking the beach was phenomenal. I had the loco moco which was good except for the brown gravy. I think the dish would have been improved by omitting the gravy and using some HP sauce or tonkatsu sauce but that's just me. My wife had a paniolo omelet which was great as well. The service was spot on and the knowledge about gluten was great as well. I would highly recommend this place to celiacs or non-celiacs looking for a comfortable breakfast near the beach in Waikiki.

                Lunch was a fair distance away as we made our way north to Turtle Bay. We stopped at the yellow Shrimp Shack along the highway. I thought it was just okay but at least they knew what was and wasn't gluten free.

                Once at the Turtle Bay resort, options for dinner were fairly minimal. They were able to figure out what was and wasn't safe for my wife to eat from the kitchen staff but there still wasn't a huge amount of food she could eat. She did manage to have some more fish tacos but honestly i think the ones from Maui Tacos were superior and 1/2 the price.

                Upon leaving Turtle Bay we stopped at another shrimp truck, this time Fumi's. Fumi's was far better than Shrimp Shack in pretty much every aspect. I would recommend this shack but it's possible the other ones were better.

                I'll continue my post in a separate entry that includes our Maui stops.

                Wailana Coffee House
                1860 Ala Moana Blvd Ste Lbby, Honolulu, HI 96815

                Maui Tacos Waikiki
                2233 Kalakaua Ave Ste 8, Honolulu, HI 96815

                Hula Grill - Waikiki
                2335 Kalakaua Ave. STE 203, Honolulu, HI 96815

                P. F. Chang's - Waikiki
                2201 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

                3 Replies
                1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                  i'm glad you ended up at Morimoto - i don't know why i didn't think to suggest it, because i know how accommodating they are!

                  sounds like it was a successfully gluten-free trip :)

                  1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                    Here we go with Maui! Hopefully I hit all the locations but it's starting to get a tiny bit foggy!
                    We stayed at the Sheraton Maui so our resto choices reflect our location on the far west side of the island.

                    Star Noodle was probably one of the best spots in Maui for cheap and tasty eats near the hotel. We went twice! The first round my wife had the Vietnamese crepes which were fantastic. I had the steamed pork buns and the star ramen. The ramen was just okay I thought. The noodles and broth were fine I suppose but the toppings were not blowing me away. On our second trip my wife had the singapore noodles which were great and I had the fried soup noodles which were okay for the first half but got way way way too salty in the second half. Never having had fried soup before I have no baseline on which to judge this dish but I thought it was too salty and a bit boring. It was kind of like the saltier version of the Korean duk buk kee. I know it sorta sounds like I'm being down on this place but for the price I was paying I was perfectly happy with what i ate and my wife was very very pleased with her food.

                    Haliimaile General Store was another great spot that was recommended on this board. The service was fantastic and very professional. They also had a separate menu that listed all safe foods on the menu which was amazing. I wish more places did this! My wife had the chopped seafood salad which looked incredible (i didn't get to steal a bite). I had the baby back ribs which were good but I didn't think they were anything super special either. I was hoping for more asian-ness in the ribs but they just tasted like straight up, well-done bbq ribs.

                    Prior to going to HGS we stopped at Surfing Goat Dairy which was really awesome. They had gluten free crackers to go with their cheeses which was a surprise. The cheeses themselves were pretty good but you're going to have to like chevre if you're going here!

                    Hula Grill was much like the Waikiki location in that the location was fantastic and service great as well. Prices were a bit steep but they also have a great happy hour. Servers and kitchen were very knowledgeable about gluten and were very accommodating. Was surprised when they were able to do a burger for me medium rare too!

                    Our Cane & Taro stop was for brekky and I thought it was pretty meh. I probably would hesitate to recommend it but our server was so nice (seeing a pattern here?). Our server knew right away about gluten intolerance and was able to guide us around the menu.

                    Moose McGillycuddy was a surprising stop for me. I thought it was going to be dreadful but we needed a place to grab a quick bite before we went on a whale watch. I had loco moco that was pretty good and my wife's chilli was pretty tasty. Server knew all the gluten-free options right off the bat. It doesn't look like a foodie destination at all and it sort of isn't, but they deliver solid grub and a rock bottom price and service with a smile.

                    Da Kitchen was another surprise for me. I thought there would be nearly nothing for my wife to eat but she actually had a few good options. She opted to go for the kalua pork which was pretty awesome. Slightly spongey texture but flavour was very good. I had a noodle special that was enormous and tasty as well. A very good spot for comfort food. Servers were also very knowledgable about gluten here as well.

                    Duke's beach house had great atmosphere but unfortunately not a lot in terms of food options for my wife during happy hour. I'm sure we could have found some more options in the dining room but we didn't get a chance to eat there for dinner. They do know what's safe and unsafe for celiacs though.

                    All in all I was really surprised at how knowledgeable servers were about gluten! It was really refreshing. Celiacs should be able to dine in Maui with full confidence that their servers will try their best to accommodate them. Now that doesn't mean there are TONS of options for food but at least you can be sure what you're eating is not going to make you sick.

                    Haliimaile General Store
                    900 Haliimaile Rd, Makawao, HI 96768

                    Da Kitchen
                    2439 S Kihei Rd Ste 107A, Kihei, HI 96753

                    Hula Grill - Kaanapali
                    2435 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, HI 96761

                    Cane & Taro Restaurant
                    147 Dickenson St, Lahaina, HI 96761

                    Moose McGillycuddy Pub & Cafe
                    844 Front St, Lahaina, HI 96761

                    Duke's Beach House Maui
                    130 Kai Malina Parkway, Lahaina, HI 96761

                    Star Noodle
                    286 Kupuohi St, Lahaina, HI 96761

                    1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                      Oh! forgot one important place. Ululani's! This stuff was like crack. Couldn't get enough.