Posts Tagged ‘Gluten free restaurant’
Restaurants are hit and miss it seems. One day you find a great restaurant that works well for a gluten free, dairy free diet, and the next day you try to find a new restaurant of the same type, only to find something was not as you expected.
Indian restaurants have worked well for us recently as have Thai restaurants. Both can have their difficulties and challenges. I just wrote about trying Juliano’s restaurant here in LA, but let me back up and tell you about the day before.
We left San Diego and headed for LA, hoping we could get to Juliano’s Planet Raw before lunch time. Well traffic in LA on a Sunday was slowing us down so we were getting hungry and were still an hour away from the destination according to our GPS. Since Indian food has been a hit for us lately and the buffets often have some vegan options without gluten, we thought we’d look for the nearest Indian restaurant. Thai would work too, if there weren’t any good Indian ones close.
After calling a few restaurants and even glancing at the minimal options at one buffet, we found a restaurant with a lunch buffet that had lots of selection.
Even though we’ve often had Indian food, it’s always good to verify anything that might be in question to make sure of the ingredients in a new restaurant. There were several vegetarian dishes, so we asked which had dairy. That eliminated a few of the options, but surprisingly even the Palak, the spinach dish, had cream in it. Sometimes it will have the indian cheese, paneer, and we eat around that, but normally it does not have any cream. They do sometimes use Ghee, which is clarified butter, basically the oil which is not what we’d like, but is more tolerable from an allergy point of view, since the fat does not have the dairy proteins. We also asked what the pakoras were made from. They are normally made with vegetables and gram flour (garbanzo flour). This is a gluten free fried treat. It reminds us of some of the flour fried products made with white wheat flour, that we sometimes miss having. Okay, so for health we should probably not overdo it, but after needing to eat so much pure and simple food, we like to have a treat of the fried pakoras when we get an opportunity.
NOTE: When we were trying to avoid every bit of cross-contamination from gluten, we would probably avoid eating at Indian restaurants since they do fry wheat products in the same oil generally, and occasionally make the naan themselves which might put flour in the air, on counters, etc. making cross contamination possible. At the moment we are trying our best to avoid gluten, but not being that particular as to worry about it being fried in oil that had a gluten item fried in it. When we tried to be that careful, we didn’t see any big improvement, so it does not seem to be worth our effort at this time. We may test the cross-contamination idea out again some time in the future to see if we can notice improvement. For now we are trying to just improve general digestion, thinking that has shown us the most improvement for our particular health issues.
So far the buffet looked good enough. We filled our plates and even got some of the carrot dessert. Before learning which dishes had dairy, I had served a small amount onto my plate, so I decided to have a little bit of it anyway. I really wanted the spinach dish, but with the dairy, I couldn’t feel comfortable having very much of it.
Okay, I probably shouldn’t have any at all, but I did. I don’t get any immediate symptoms, but I think staying off the dairy has improved my cat allergies and I am so grateful that I really don’t want to go back to eating dairy and make my asthma and allergies get worse. Besides, with evidence that animal products relate to some diseases, we do try to avoid them in general.
Well, the dairy items we only ate in a tiny taste size amount. Then the dahl seemed to be undercooked. It tasted the same as at a previous restaurant and had the same flavorless ginger cut in the same rectangular shape that made me think it was a canned dahl, not freshly made. The potato dish was tasty but the potatoes were too firm. I got nervous about eating too much undercooked starch. After all, starch is harder on the digestion even when well cooked, but undercooked is even worse. So as I finished my meal I found myself not satisfied with just about all the options. Only have a little carrot since I don’t want too much sugar. Only have a little undercooked dahl and potato dish. Only have a small taste of the spinach or other dairy dish. The pakoras were pretty good, but different than usual, made with potatoes into little patties. There was a yellow colored rice dish that had the cheap veggies that you get from frozen, you know the kind… peas, corn, dry lima beans, and carrots (in those little square shapes). The veggies that were not appealing as a child were now in the rice dish that was a little dry. The only other vegetarian dish was Manchurian Vegetables. Manchurian sounds Chinese to me. Chinese sounds like MSG. That sauce looks like it could really have some MSG/preservative issues with it. Just stay away from that one. That is not worth the MSG risk.
Do I sound too picky? Well, I am wondering if maybe I have some great hidden talent in food tasting. I would love to try out some really great restaurants to tell them if their food was good. But probably not too many who want someone gluten and dairy intolerant who’s vegetarian to try their food. Maybe it’s just that I can actually tell when they cut corners, buy cheap food, and lower quality.
Not everyone may notice, but I really love and appreciate really good quality. Especially something simple, like just make sure that beans and starches are thoroughly cooked. That will make them MUCH tastier, and MUCH more digestible. Surely a restaurant could make it their goal to make sure those items were cooked. Do you like undercooked beans or firm potatoes?
Well, we left feeling a little disappointed. We often get really great, freshly made Indian dishes, but here we felt they were not that great. Well, they were okay. I ate the best parts of some of the dishes, and left the firm potatoes on the plate. I don’t like leaving food on my plate, but better to not over stuff and not to eat raw potatoes.
After dabbling in raw food for years, we have finally had the opportunity to try our first Gourmet Raw Food Restaurant! We think we are prepared. I mean, raw food potlucks should help, shouldn’t they? This is not just a potluck, this restaurant is owned by one of the most famous raw food, gourmet chefs in the world. Is that because there aren’t too many raw food gourmet chefs in the world? Well, we are very sensitive to flavor, over ripe food, seasoning, quality in general, and flavor, flavor, flavor. We have even written low reviews on our favorite ethnic foods, Indian and Thai foods if they weren’t up to our high level of expectation. We are not easily pleased, so we may not be impressed. But raw food is healthy so we will try it.
We have eaten a raw food cafe that wasn’t gourmet raw food, and it was okay, but we’ve had better food at potlucks and at our own house. Hey, all you Raw Walla Walla potluck people, you do pretty good at times. As I said, we are not easily impressed.
Okay, walking up to the restaurant we see that it may pass the first test – there are people eating there. Always a good sign. And are they happy? Well, they look pleasant. Okay, then nobody’s looking sad, sorrowful or sick, so we proceed to look at the menu.
Well, from a brief glance we see several items that are wheat and dairy free, so we enter.
We were seated by a young, energetic waitress at a small lovely table near several others who looked relatively healthy and slim. We noticed that this restaurant does not use wheat or dairy or meat (just what we need with our vegetarian life and dairy and gluten intolerances). They also don’t use much soy, only a wheat free tamari sauce. Wow, no worry about cross contamination of wheat here. But it’s all raw. Won’t we get tired of salad?
The menu suggested dessert first and readily took them up on that suggestion, adding some french fries as an appetizer as well. While waiting we glanced around again. What kind of people eat here? Let’s see… does anyone look too weird? No, not really. I mean in the middle of a big city, I’ve seen many strange looking people, but it seemed rather average here. A few dressed in more natural clothing, like the cotton, natural dye skirts in nature colors or white or black. Most people were wearing something similar to me, jeans and shirts or sweaters. A few were wearing business suits. Nobody was wearing any strange getup, nor any bright tye-dyed shirts, at least not today. Looks like an average group of people, with one exception, I don’t see any bulging bellies. So was it that healthy people came here, or that they came here and became healthy? I’m not sure.
Well, this picky eater is not complaining about starting a meal with amazing, creamy, rich, delicate chocolate mousse with a rich chewy, cruchy crust, covered in a delicate, light white creamy sauce, with strawberry and apple slices drizzled with a streak of strawberry sauce. It looked lovely, and tasted even better than it looked.
You can have all the chocolate desserts in front of me that you want, as long as I can eat that chocolate mousse in front of you, I will be completely satisfied and probably feel sorry for you. This you must taste if you can.
Oh, the sorrow of finishing that dessert would be so great, except that the waitress brought out our raw zucchini french fries. Okay, let’s try these.
Now, remember this is an adventure and these are not made of potatoes and these are not fried. Can we handle them? Well, not exactly like french fries, but they do give that crunchy savory flavor we crave. Nicely seasoned, they must’ve been dehydrated to get a little crunch. The ranch dressing was really like ranch dressing, that I didn’t give it a thought. Okay, so I’ve been making variations of ranch dressing using nuts myself so maybe I’m used to it, but also maybe I’m a bit picky about it. The dressing measured up, and the french fries exceeded my expectations. Again, don’t expect it to be exactly the same, just to be tasty and lightly crunchy. We enjoyed them quite a bit, perhaps the previous raw dishes we’ve had have helped expand our tastes, but we think they are quite likable.
For our entree we ordered a Thai green curry pasta and a sushi roll called “The Mighty Apaphrodite”. Okay, we are going to critique this Thai Curry if it’s not rightly flavored. I have high hopes for Juliano, since I’ve perused his cookbook. I think he can do it, but if it’s not flavored like Thai green curry we will know it.
Full of flavor, nicely seasoned, a great creamy sauce with thinly sliced veggies inside, the sushi rolls met our desires.
Okay, the Thai green curry pasta… well… okay, we have to admit that it really did taste like a Thai green curry sauce. I have seen other raw food recipes that attempted to mimic Thai food that came up short in my estimation. This one did very well. Green curry is usually served with rice, but as a raw food substitute, the noodles were okay. I liked that in addition to zucchini noodles, there was another kind of dehydrated noodle, maybe a coconut noodle, that was very tasty.
Well, that should satisfy us, shouldn’t it? Well, yes, sorta, I mean we did share a dessert at the beginning, but it was so GOOD, and I saw that lady at the other table drinking a chocolate mylkshake that looked pretty good as well… hmmm… okay, a splurge. Let’s order the Chocolate Bliss Balls and a chocolate shake.
Well, I guess we so excited about eating our tasty chocolate mylkshake that we forgot to get a picture until Gary had completely finished and I was eating my last two spoonfuls… Tasted better than a real chocolate milkshake!
But here’s how lovely our Chocolate Bliss Balls looked all covered with light, creamy sauce, with the strawberry and apple slices around the plate. Look quickly, or those will be gone soon too. But not too soon, we need to savor those tasty bites as long as we can… as we finish up our satisfying meal.
Here’s an adventure for anybody that loves tasty food. At a few indian restaurants lately we might’ve enjoyed the first 2 or 3 bites when we were very hungry, but we felt unsatisfied as the meal went on and it tasted like a packaged product without the freshly seasoned flavor and not quite well cooked enough legumes or starches. At this meal we enjoyed the first 2 or 3 bites and continued enjoying the last 2 or 3 bites, spooned as much off the plate as we could (avoiding the temptation to lick the plate clean), and left the restaurant still exclaiming over it, feeling good about what we put in our bodies. Even now, hours later back at the place we are staying, we are still exclaiming over how nice it is to have such good flavor and still feel so good about what it will do for our health.
Health versus flavor is such a terrible decision. I always knew it was possible to have both. I love to enjoy life, and I love to enjoy my food. But I do need and want to have health, great health. I want BOTH.
Oh, the cost of the food. It was expensive, but we did have the equivalent of an appetizer and entree and a dessert each. We don’t usually get a dessert and not too often an appetizer, so that will add to the cost. Still it was not as cheap as some types of foods. The Thai green curry entree did cost $12.95 but came with a salad and dressing. All organic, fresh and raw does cost money. We know how costly some of those nuts can be even when they are not organic. I feel so good about the foods that I ate that fed my body that I do think it was worth the cost to me. If they could in any way make it cheaper, without sacrificing the quality, that of course would make it easier to afford to come here, but we have paid a fair amount for some Indian food that we felt very unsatisfied with the flavor, and it felt heavy in our stomachs. I do not regret paying for quality and nutrition with flavor.
As we left, I could tell I was full, but I didn’t feel as “over full” as I sometimes do after eating at some Indian buffets. Our minds felt more alert, and the digestion seemed to go well. Maybe the chanca piedra is already working. Okay, maybe that herb we are taking is another story. In any case, whether the herb is helping or not, we did feel good about what we ate. An adventure, yes. And a delicious adventure we are longing to repeat.
What shall we do for supper? We are already looking at the nearby restaurants to see if there are any good raw food places not too far. The one we found was closed. I guess it is hard for raw food restaurants to stay in business in today’s economy. So for tonight we will make our delicous mango strawberry smoothie. We saw that on the menu today, but did not need to order it because we already make it. So delicious. Who needs oatmeal, anyway. We are happy with our strawberry mango breakfasts. So happy with them that they sometimes make the top hit list and become our supper as well.
If not our strawberry mango smoothie, sometimes we have a feast of the great California citrus… okay, maybe that is the story for another time also.
So Gary is getting hungry and we are off to cut up some mangoes… Does that make you hungry? Well, come back again to read our amazing adventures with our challenging diet and our journey in travels and toward health. Maybe sometime we’ll tell you about the monkeys in Thailand or how we tried the SCD diet, or juice feasting, or … well I don’t want to spoil the surprise. What will we eat tomorrow? What will we eat next month? We don’t even know… we’re just journeying along, traveling along, and trying to eat what we love and what might be good for health. We especially love to eat what we love.
I hear the citrus juicer, so I’m off to find out what kind of citrus he might be juicing up… the Texas red grapefruit? Maybe tangelos… those have been so good lately. Or a mix of navels, pink oranges, and tangelos?
Have I made you hungry? Well, go eat something healthy and tasty. And Have Fun! I am!
We’ll be back!