Japanese Steak House Blues

After over four years of living with Celiac Disease, I've found that eating out still isn't easy, and often it isn't very satisfying. Tonight I went to a Japanese steak house, Kabuto Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar in Greensboro, NC. I used to enjoy going to Japanese restaurants, but this is the first time I've been to a Japanese steak house since being on the gluten-free diet, because everything cooked in front of you on the table gets a good dousing of soy sauce (which is brewed with wheat and is not gluten-free). I made all of the usual preparations before leaving the house; including calling ahead to ask if they could accommodate a gluten-free diet, coming up with a cursory plan of what to eat based on their menu, snacking heavily before going to avoid feeling starved while watching everyone else eat, and bringing my own wheat-free soy sauce. You would think that after all of this preparation, and carefully ordering sushi and steamed rice I would have a nice meal with no issues, but unfortunately that wasn't what happened.
The chef at out table was entertaining with his flashing knives, onion volcano and spinning a raw egg on his spatula for an impossibly long time, but it was frustrating for me to watch as heaps of delicious looking food was tossed (literally) on to everyone's plate. On my plate was a heap on steamed white rice. I used my soy sauce to flavor the rice, along with a dash of Chinese style hot sauce.

My sushi arrived when the main course was served. I ordered a tray of sashimi tuna wrapped in rice and seaweed, and I ate it with the wasabi sauce, pickled ginger and my soy sauce. The tuna was fresh, but the sushi wasn't rolled to well. Nonetheless, I was content with my simple meal, that is until about 45 minutes after leaving the restaurant. Some times I have stomach irritations that I can't precisely attribute to a gluten reaction, but this wasn't one of those times. I had acute sharp pains in my gut that lasted for about a half hour, pretty much the typical good dosing of gluten reaction for me. Once again I don't know exactly where the gluten came from, it had to be either the wasabi, pickled ginger, Chinese hot sauce, (all of which I've had before) or the raw tuna (unlikely due to my type of reaction) or was it some unknown and unseen culprit?

All in all my advice would be: if your on a gluten-free diet, pass on the Japanese Steak house experience. Dining out shouldn't be this hard!



Dana said...

I'm sorry you got accidently glutened, but I apriciate the post and the warning.

Despite the fact that I know I will only feel left out, my dad has been rather insistant on trying a Japanese steak house that opened by him recently. Hopefully your experience will help me make my "no" firmer and save me from a similar stomach ache!

Anonymous said...

eek...glad to see you are back. Really enjoy your blog. Look at the wrappers...was told that sometimes the processing of the seaweed is not gluten-free. Plus, most kitchens, unfortunately, are not too savvy about cross-contamination...maybe panko crumbs?

Rachel said...

I know that my husband has been glutened by different wasabis in the past. Sometimes wheat flour is added so that might be the culprit. Sorry to hear you had so much trouble when you dined out.

EC said...

Jeff, Sorry to read that you were affected this way when just trying to be out and enjoy yourself!

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Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this and I know the pain it is to have to be so careful. Heck, I went to the dentist today and explained that any new products that they suggested had to be gluten/wheat free.

But about the Jap. Rest. BE CAREFUL about rice, they are now using a sticky rice that has wheat in it to keep it together and it is found at Jap. Rest. as well as in most all cal. rolls etc. unfortunately.

Betty said...

Eating out sucks! Went to a burrito place my celiac daughter. She orders a bowl and expains she can't have the person rolling burritos touching the food....Someone changed gloves and she reaches over and with her glutened glove levels off the cheese! STOP! I can't have the cheese now. The restaurant world really needs educating.
BUT Five Guys can be safe and they were good. Fries are safe and if you order without the bun and explain it even comes in a seperate bag.

Anonymous said...

Fire and Sticks Japanese (off 68 highway at I40) acted like we were from Mars when we asked if they had Gluten Free soy sauce. Saying "of course is has Gluten". So we left and spent our $75 elsewhere. :) I have on the other hand had fabulous experiences with gluten free at PF Changs. I realize it's not Japanese but at least you get that yummy soy sauce fix! Also for Pizza Wolfgang Puck at Friendly center was AMAZING. They don't list it as Gluten Free because of cross contamination possibilities in their kitchen I presume, but I ate an entire pizza with zero pain! Hope more people go out and support them!