I was in Chinatown last week, hungrily, pitifully peering into the windows of dozens of Chinese restaurants that I sadly realized were going to be almost impossible to safely get a gluten free meal from. I had tried to eat at a couple of Chinese restaurants early in my gluten free days and had been very sick after both attempts. My (at that time) discomfort with asking for special treatment combined with a language barrier had proven disastrous in those cases
Luckily my companion recalled Nom Wah Tea Parlor being on a list of gluten free restaurants that I had recently sent her. We thought it sounded like one of the riskier gluten free options we’ve tried, but I decided to brave it. It is located at 13 Doyers Street. I was totally lost by this point, so all I know is that that’s in Chinatown.
Nom Wah has a pretty extensive list of gluten free items, which are marked by a special symbol on the regular menu. As we discovered, these can be made either gluten free or not, so it is extremely important to be very explicit that you want them gluten free.
We ordered several gluten free selections from the menu (she’s not gluten free, but we wanted to share) and some tea (Because it’s a TEA PARLOR!!!). Since there was a bit of a language barrier, we tried to be as clear as possible that I needed my food to be gluten free. I was not all that comfortable, but when she returned with a bottle of San J Tamari, clearly marked as gluten free, I felt much better.
A different employee soon arrived with several of the dishes we had ordered. Pretty much all covered in soy sauce. That seemed suspicious, so we called him back over and asked if they were gluten free. He immediately motioned me back away from the soy sauce (as if it might jump right out of the dish and assault me!) and quickly snatched the dishes away. Oddly, this made me feel somewhat better, as despite the miscommunication, he seemed to grasp the implications of eating gluten for me.
A bit later he returned with new gluten free dishes. While still not totally comfortable, I proceeded to gorge myself on Chinese food on the theory that, even if I did gluten myself, I might as well get my money’s worth. I felt pretty comfortable that they now knew it was supposed to be gluten free, but I was still concerned about cross contamination, particularly because some of it was fried and I didn’t ask if that was done separately from the gluten containing stuff.
Luckily, I felt fine afterward. And the food was excellent. That’s awesome because I will need to return to Chinatown for more of the awesome foot rubs I got before dinner.
I’m not super sensitive, so it you are, I would recommend asking more about cross contamination. If not, I believe this is the best choice for a gluten free meal in Chinatown.