Not all Asian restaurants are created equal when it comes to gluten free food. For instance, Chinese cuisine is a tricky one for those who need to avoid gluten. This is all down to one ingredient which makes its way into the vast majority of Chinese dishes: soy sauce.
The prevalence of soy sauce in Chinese cookery makes it a risky choice when it comes to gluten free food. If you are opting for Chinese, ask whether gluten-free tamari is available instead.
You’ll also want to steer clear of any dishes which use fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and oyster sauce, as these all have soy sauce as their base. Unfortunately, you’ll also need to avoid most dim sum, unless you’re specifically told that it’s gluten free, as these are usually made with wheat.
Safe choices in Chinese restaurants include rice noodles, any dishes made without soy sauce (if you’re worried it’s best to ask for no sauce at all and bring your own), and simple dishes such as steamed vegetables.
Other Asian cuisines such as Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese could prove much easier to navigate. For example, the vermicelli bowls, salads and rice bowls you’ll find on the menu at Vietnamese restaurants are naturally gluten free, just be sure to check that soy sauce hasn’t been used.
With Japanese cuisine, soy sauce is usually added to dishes such as sushi and sashimi after preparation, so you’ll find it much easier to avoid gluten in this case. Likewise, soy sauce isn’t quite as prevalent in Thai cuisine, so you’ll find plenty more options here.