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Nov 27, 2011 07:51 PM

Gluten-free good Chinese food, especially Szechuan?

So, here's the deal:

My fellow Jews and friends-of-Jews get together every Christmas for the traditional consumption of Chinese food and watching of movies. We go for the worst movies possible -- Earth-shatteringly bad, hilarious movies -- and the best Chinese food possible.

I'm gluten-intolerant. Until January, I was making exceptions, but I no longer am. This means I probably can't eat all the delicious Szechuan food we ordered last year.

Is there any really good gluten-free Chinese food in Seattle? Helpful: using wheat-free soy sauce.

Much appreciated,


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  1. In Redmond and not Seattle, an honestly its been a while since I've visited because I feel the food is a bit Americanized, but they do have gluten-free menu options is Watercress Asian Bistro. It's not specifically scezchuan however their menu is online so you can see before visiting.

    This is the only Chinese restaurant I recall that specifically calls out non-gluten menu items but I cannot speak as to their non-contamination practices.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ethereal

      Their menu does look tasty! Unless another option comes up, I may leave movie-watching long enough to make the schlep to Redmond and back, since eating Chinese food on Christmas is the 614th mitzvah and all, and my skills at cooking Chinese food are limited. Thanks so much, ethereal!

      Other known places with gluten-free options?

      1. Your best bets are chains.

        It'd be a challenge to find gluten-free at real Chinese restaurants as they won't have a clue what you're talking about. Most don't even fully grasp the concept of vegetarian as you are served a plate of vegetables cooked in chicken broth and shredded pork.

        5 Replies
        1. re: HungWeiLo

          What about the canned gluten the Chinese actually sell in mason jars in the supermarkets? If they sell gluten as a specific product, it's a pretty good bet that you can talk to them easily about food that doesn't include that product!
          It might help to find a jar of gluten in a Chinese grocery and write down the Chinese characters so your chef might understand what they're not supposed to be feeding you.
          But somehow, I suspect that if you order a plate of stir-fried pork with black bean sauce over rice, the chef isn't going to throw any extra wheat gluten or flour into it.

          And strangely, pork dishes are also part of this Jewish tradition.

          1. re: PeteSeattle

            It's the sauce that presents most of the problems. Every chef uses cornstarch to adjust consistency for the sauce.

            There exists gluten-free cornstarch - but good luck trying to find a "real" Chinese restaurant that uses it, as Asians are very unlikely to suffer from gluten allergies and illnesses. Hence my suggestion for Westernized Chinese restaurants / chains.

            The jar of gluten you're talking about is probably one of those "fake meat" products that is sold for vegetarian fare and is to be used as a tofu substitute. It's basically Chinese tofurkey - it tries to emulate the texture of meat.

            1. re: HungWeiLo

              You can order "Gluten Free" for majority of items on the menus of "Asia 1" located in North Seattle at 13231 Aurora Ave North (in strip mall) and any of their other 3 locations in Wa state. Never tried it but viewed menu on internet try it and report results.

              Located where Outback Steakhouse was previously

              1. re: HungWeiLo

                If there's gluten in starch, it's not pure starch. And there's absolutely NO gluten in corn (maize) to begin with. Thickening sauces with flour or day-old bread is a European thing, which will introduce gluten. If pure cornstarch causes a problem, then the trouble is different from a problem with wheat gluten. Corn is famously low in protein anyway, of any sort.

                1. re: HungWeiLo

                  I think corn starch should be Gluten-Free, no? As far as I know, only wheat and rye contain gluten of any sort. My Gluten-Free friends eat Fritos with reckless abandon.

                  I think the real issue is the wheat that's in most Soy Sauce, as the OP notes.

            2. It's not really my kind of Chinese, but I have a Celiac friend who brings tamari to Snappy Dragon, and they use that instead of soy sauce for her. I'm assuming they have designated gf options if she's doing this.

              1 Reply
              1. re: christy319

                Good to know Christy319, that Snappy Dragon has a sense of the Gluten-free issue, and can help diner's handle that if needed. Good post.

              2. Thanks, everyone! Unless something better comes up today, we'll pick between Watercress and Snappy Dragon.