Once diagnosed with Celiac disease, Asian food became one of my biggest nightmares especially when yearning to eat out. Not only was gluten an issue but peanuts and almonds too. It was a triple-allergy-threat whammy and for quite a long time I just avoided it altogether. I don’t know about other English speaking countries but in the US, Asian food is indispensable and something I had previously dined on with great frequency.
It wasn’t until we had been in Luxembourg for a while and I was feeling more confident with the languages that I decided to approach Asian food again. For me, Chinese and similar foods that use soy sauce, nuts and nut oils to prepare and cook with are still not an option but who knows, maybe someday I’ll get brave enough to figure this out too.
For now I’ve found a great solution to my Asian food cravings: sushi. I can’t just pick up any sushi and chow on it; I have to be a bit selective. Thankfully there is so much variety to choose from: California and Spring (Printemps) rolls, Maki, Sushi, Temaki, and Sashimi to name a few. The ingredients in the rolls as well as any added sauces are where I really stay vigilant.
Crab (crabe), aka Surimi, is the biggest no-no since imitation crab is known to be loaded with gluten for the binder of the fish product used. It’s easy to spot when whole because you can see the pink ring around white meat like pictured on the right. Very often beef (boeuf), chicken (poulet) and duck (canard) are seasoned with a soy flavored sauce or battered and fried so I always ask about the preparations of those meats but when using take-away, I just avoid them for convenience sake. Mixed tuna (thon cuit) also has a sauce to bind it and I’ve encountered some places that aren’t exactly sure if it’s gluten free or not so I avoid this.
I realize it seems like I’ve listed quite a few “avoids” and you might be wondering what remains. Well, I’m happy to say it leaves a lot, at least in my opinion. Some of the easiest choices are anything where the fish is left whole either inside a roll or on top of a sushi and especially sashimi or tartare options. Salmon (saumon), tuna (thon), cod (cabillaud) and shrimp (crevette) are just a few of the seafood options that are a great choice. Any of the veg like cabbage (chou), avocado (avocat), cucumber (concombre), asparagus (asperge), carrot and a variety of herbs like dill (aneth), cilantro (coriandre) and mint (menthe) are all great assortments too. There are options for salmon eggs (oeufs), mango (mangue), melon and lychees to name some other additions.
I have generally memorized the majority of my favorites to make ordering easier but I have to admit, many places have somewhat “fool proof” menus with pictures and I love it. It certainly makes ordering easy no matter what language you speak because isn’t it true that a picture really is worth a thousand words especially on a menu. Sushi trains and buffets are obviously the best choices because you can see the food for yourself and know if it’s the right choice for your particular food allergy.
I have a few places that I really like and have found great success with eating well and not getting sick. Aka Cité, in City Centre, is my personal favorite for a more “fine dining” experience mainly because they are the only ones who offer Tamari (gluten free soy sauce) of all the places I’ve tried. They have 2 dining styles to choose from, a table with the menu or the sushi train. Their sushi is really amazing and sitting at the sushi train, watching the chefs is great fun. Speaking English has not been a problem for us.
We have used Ginko Sushi, in Strassen, for years and love it. They have 3 dining styles. There are tables with the menu, a sushi train and easy take-away ordering. All 3 options are great but our favorite is their take-away. For take-away you can either email or telephone your order ahead for pick up or delivery (livraison). You can also just walk right in the front door and place your take-away (emporter) order in person and then wait.
They have a “sister”, more formal restaurant, Le Zai, right next door. In fact, the staff often walks back and forth between the two. Le Zai is very serene, fairly formal and only 1 dining style, tables with the menu. The staff isn’t too keen to use English but some will try and the menu can be a bit challenging but it’s a nice place for special occasions if you are up to the challenge.
New World & Tokyo, in Bertrange, is another option and they have 2 dining styles, order from the menu or the all-you-can-eat buffet with Mongolian grill. Both are good options but I prefer the Mongolian grill. You choose all your own ingredients, pass the loaded bowl to the grill chef, watch the process and after a few minutes you get your selection back and ready to enjoy. (The grill chef is really good about scraping the grill clean but I would not recommend it for anyone who has an anaphylactic allergy. I have not encountered a problem with my allergies but it might not be worth the risk for others.) As part of the offerings, there is also sushi to choose from though not a huge selection and often the most popular.
Ok, last one for this post. I just tried a new place and had a great experience. Mr Wok, in Luxembourg near the gare, is a bit tucked away and I would not have noticed it had I not been invited for lunch. They have 2 dining styles, tables with a menu and all-you-can-eat buffet. At lunch the buffet is pretty much the standard and what I chose. The buffet is huge with an extensive variety to choose from! They had all sorts of fried, stir fry, vegetables, salad, fish, mussels, desserts and a generous sushi & sashimi bar at the back. Being the fan of sushi that I am, I enjoyed my fill of sushi but did take a gander at the impressive selections and I give it two thumbs up. This is a great place for groups with so much variety and the lunch price was very agreeable.I am certain there are many more places but these are the ones I’m most familiar with. For those of you with food allergies who are longing for Asian food, the above restaurants are a good place to start. If any of you have experience with other facilities either in Luxembourg or the region then by all means, please share with us so that we can all try them too. Dear friends…pick those chopsticks up and enjoy!