Since my coeliac diagnosis last year I have avoided Chinese food on the assumption it was laden with gluten. In a way, my assumption is correct: noodles, dumplings, those evil (but delicious) deep fried little pork balls, soy sauce – these all have gluten in them.
However, I was offered a gluten free Chinese meal to challenge my perceptions and thought I should give it a go.
Chop Chop on Morrison Street is an unassuming place, with bright signage outside and the most extraordinary red glittery tables inside. My husband has enjoyed meals here before and has been nagging me to go for a long time, so the chance to try it was welcome.
The menu is extensive and could be confusing, but the handy separate allergens menu that comes with it tells you all the things NOT to have. Sounds a bit negative? Don’t worry, the waiter tells you the things you CAN have! And they know their stuff, so the allergen avoiders can be confident of being okay.
My gluten-eating daughter worked her way through some gorgeous looking dumplings (make sure your gluten friendly friends try these!), and a delicious looking bowl of Chow Mein. I was feeling envious, but I didn’t need to…
I was brought: lamb with cumin; a bowl piled high with boiled rice (which is something I could just eat on its own); the most delicious, slightly spicy and sweet cucumber salad and some very tasty shredded, fried potatoes which were like crunchy micro-chips, they all came and were fine to eat. On recommendation I also tried the aubergine, which was really delicious with an almost caramelised sauce and zingy little bits of ginger and spring onion. Actually, I decided, I could just sit and eat a large bowl of the aubergine – it was very good!
My concern that maybe a spot of soy sauce had sneaked in somewhere was unfounded and I was gluten free – so Chinese food is possible and it can be tasty too.
It was my daughter who pointed out, quite rightly, that it would not take much for them to offer a bottle of gluten free soy sauce and that gluten free noodles exist, which is true, but I enjoyed the meal nonetheless.
So if your inner Dorothy is crying out for bright fake flowers and some kitsch red glitter, plus you have never braved the Chinese gluten free experience, give Chop Chop a go. The choices are relatively limited, so you might not want to go every week, but if you go occasionally, you will not be disappointed. The service is good and the atmosphere was hotting up as we left….
I was invited to try the gluten free food at Chop Chop, but this has not influenced my thinking, and we paid for our own wine (which is also very good and, of course, gluten free!)