Japan, an amazing country, amazing food. The way of life here is so different and so is the cooking. The smells of the food being made as you walk through back streets makes your mouth water. There are little restaurants everywhere, literally everywhere. However for myself as a Coeliac this was one of the biggest torments for me. I wanted to eat everything that smelt beautiful but in reality I couldn’t eat most of it.
I confess, I should have done some more research before I got to Japan about gluten free food etc but I was so occupied with my husband and I organising the actual trips it simply slipped my mind as I was so used to the U.K where gluten free food is so readily available these days. My bad.
What we quickly came to realise is that gluten and soy sauce is in most things. Dietary problems isn’t really something Japan is actively super aware of so why would they make food without wheat when there isn’t a so called need? As I’ve previously mentioned in my last coeliac post Here I am a human dustbin when it comes to eating. The first day I woke up on the rare occasion after Mint and he had been super proactive and got the words for wheat gluten etc and also the kanji. Best husband ever!
One thing I’d note is we rented an apartment which was near enough to Shibuya for our 11 day stay and this is 100% the best way to deal with Coeliacs here as you can control exactly what you are cooking once you can read some of the kanji and trying to explain gluten free is pretty difficult unless your fluent in Japanese. A worthy blog post that I read was Gluten free Japan Save the picture with the dietary card as it’s definitely useful!
We visited the Little Bird Cafe. This meant we took a couple trains from our local metro station (Gakugei-Daigaku Station) and our last station closest to the cafe was Yoyogikoen. From here we walked to the cafe which was super easy as long as you remember food places aren’t just located on the ground floor. We saw the sign and went up to the third floor which looked like it was just someone’s house. Don’t ever be alarmed by this, it’s kind of normal and the food is usually great regardless. Now Little Bird is entirely gluten free! Hallelujah! There are so many options from pizza and chips to gyoza and ramen! I’m also happy to report that it was super yummy and I ended up taken a bag of gyoza away with me for a snack which was great! The owner is so lovely and understands what a coeliac is so you rest assured you are safe here. Very much worth a visit. Here is myself and the owner with my amazing pancake!
A place we visited near the end of our visit was called Three.
My husband had a sandwich which came with a whole pile of stuff and pancakes for pudding with a lime butter and maple syrup and said its the best pancakes he has ever had and it was all gluten free. It’s good to note that the price is higher due to area.
When walking around Japan there are Family Marts and 7/11’s everywhere. The secret to shopping here is to learn to kanji for gluten.
Here is a little list of what I would look out for-
- Rice balls can be gluten free but it always. Best to check.
- Heaps of different nuts etc you can snack on, walnuts, almonds peanuts etc.
- Also worth noting is the little snack bars. Many don’t have gluten in them. Some taste Like cardboard but others are super yummy. I found a strawberry one which was pretty good! Soyjoy made my life. Especially the strawberry ones.
- Also some of the chocolate almonds are gluten free and are super yummy. I had a mild obsession with these. Definitely check the packs though.
Last but not least- ‘pan nashi onegaishimasu.’ You can try this in fast food places if you’re feeling daring but man does it blow their mind. If you say ‘allergic’ they sort of get it and they eventually understand what you want. They think it’s pretty strange!
A few honourable useful mentions of blogs I read
Well I hope this has helped or amused you with my lack of eating skills!