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Oct 11, 2011 11:31 AM

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!