Sunday, March 20, 2016

muffin-pan-chicken-cups: a recipe

We're always messing around and creating/tweaking new recipes, and this one was too delicious not to share! I'm not really sure what to call them, so if you've got a good name, let me know!

For now, let's call them muffin-pan-chicken-cups (quite a mouthful, both the name and the actual food!)

  • 1.5 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped veggies**
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, chopped into small cubes
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1.5 tsp dried basil
  • A dash of salt and pepper
**This time, I chopped two bell peppers and 1/4 of a Japanese kabocha (pumpkin-like squash) into thumb-nail sized pieces. You could really use any veggies you like, though!

  • Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  • Grease a muffin tin (we used coconut oil on a paper towel).
  • Chop the veggies and the mozzarella into small chunks. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until everything is combined.
  • Using spoonfuls (or handfuls) to scoop mixture into the muffin tin. Press down a bit to fill the cups. (I was able to get 10 muffin cups filled to the top with this mixture.)
  • Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes.
  • Let them cool, and then enjoy!


Monday, March 14, 2016

recreating the wonder beverage

I don't have much to say (or the energy to say it), as I've been through the ringer this week! A nasty virus is going around the island, and it's caused me to be without a voice for more than a week. Then came the fever, the chills, the muscle aches, the coughing, sneezing, and aching head!

I finally went to the hospital yesterday and they said I have a sinus infection and an ear infection. Because they could only prescribe medications that I'm allergic to, I've been using every home remedy I can get my hands on to get rid of this nastiness!

Some actually did some good (sea salt gargle, rice bag on the ear, essential oils around the outside of the ear, apple cider vinegar steam inhalation) and others didn't (you probably don't even want to know what some of them were!)

Then I remembered that when we lived in Reno and felt an illness coming on, we'd always run to Pneumatic to pick up a Wonder Beverage. I haven't had one in years, so I'm sure it's not exact, but this is the closest I've come to recreating it here at home. Since Pneumatic has closed its doors, we may never get to have a "real" one again! Regardless, both the original and this variation will provide a kick to the sinuses as well as a honey-laden soothing to the throat.

**Note: You may want to use different amounts of the ingredients to taste!


  • Glassful of water
  • Fresh ginger, rinsed (powdered will do, but fresh is better if you've got it!)
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 teaspoons raw honey (or manuka honey!)
  • Dash of cayenne pepper 

  • Boil the water. While it heats up, peel and cut the ginger. I recommend cutting four-to-five small pieces (about the size of your thumbnail -- just big enough to keep them from floating). Drop the ginger pieces into the bottom of your glass or mug.
  • Once the water is almost at the boiling point, pour it over the ginger pieces. Let it sit for several minutes, just as you would when steeping loose leaf tea.
  • Once the liquid has taken on the color of the ginger, add the juice of half a lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper. (Don't go overboard, as a little cayenne goes a long way!)
  • Remove the ginger pieces (unless you prefer the ginger taste to continually get stronger), add honey to taste, stir it up, sip, and feel better!

Hospital Safety

Hospital Safety Information: Allergies to Gluten and Corn

General Information:

  • NO hand sanitizer - hands should be washed with soap and water
  • Gloves must be powder-free nitrile variety
  • Cloth gowns and bedding instead of paper covers. I have an emergency gown and my emergency contacts can provide clean linens.
  • NO powdered rubber instruments - metal or glass only
  • Any tools disinfected with alcohol should be rinsed prior to use
  • NO dissolvable sutures - only use non-dissolvable nylon or polypropylene sutures that have been rinsed to dispose of corn starch.
  • Saline IV only! No dextrose!
  • For ANY medication given, check the inactive ingredients against the list below!!

Ingredients to Avoid:

  • wheat, barley, rye (anything with gluten)
  • corn (anything with the word corn, like corn starch, corn syrup, etc)
  • maltodextrin
  • dextrose
  • citric acid
  • sorbitol
  • glucose
  • aspartame
  • fluoride
  • glucose
  • sucrose
  • fructose
  • non-specified starches
  • modified starch
  • glycerin
  • natural flavors
**See the corn allergen list for more ingredients/derivatives to avoid.**

Anesthesia Information

For local anesthetics, use only carbocaine or preservative-free lidocaine. No inactive ingredients other than water and/or sodium chloride!

Safe General Anesthetics:
  • Versed (Hospira)

Avoid General Anesthetics:
  • Propofol

Antibiotics Information

  • Keflex (Cephalexin) - red capsule. (potato starch)
  • Rocephin (Ceftriaxone) - injection. (Check that it isn't treated in ethanol. It should be mixed with sterile water or saline only. Also check that the lidocaine is corn free.)
  • Zithromax (only brand-name. The generics usually have corn starch.)

  • Cipro
  • Levaquin
  • Bactrim (and the Qualitest generic version as well)

Blood Products/Transfusions

Check the inactive ingredients and anticoagulants, as many are corn-derived. Please discuss information with patient or emergency contact before using blood products. If a transfusion is absolutely necessary, please take necessary precautions to prepare for possible allergic reactions.

Inhaled Medications

  • Xopenex
  • Albuterol-only nebulizers

  • Ethanol propellants
  • Anything with added ingredients included on the above-mentioned list

Injected Medications

  • Saline IV
  • Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride injection (check inactive ingredients)
  • Ranitidine Hydrochloride injection (check inactive ingredients)
  • Rocephin injection (without dextrose!!)

  • Lactated Ringers
  • Dextrose in IV

Wound Treatment and Disinfectants

  • Saline
  • Betadine solution (if it contains only water, povidone iodine, and sodium hydroxide)
  • Purdue brand Betadine is safe
  • Isopropyl alcohol (only if necessary)
  • Non-dissolvable nylon or polypropylene sutures (rinse to remove corn starch)
  • Carbocaine or preservative lidocaine for local anesthetics (the only inactive ingredients should be water and/or sodium chloride)
  • Cotton gauze
  • Kerlix or Coban Tape

  • Citric Acid
  • Glycerin
  • Pareth alcohol
  • Ethanol
  • Dissolvable sutures
  • Local anesthetics with inactive ingredients other than water/sodium chloride
  • Most adhesive bandages
  • Steri-strips

Saturday, January 16, 2016

antibiotics and anti-inflammatories: a story and a "pudding" recipe

Some of you may know that I have been battling an awful kidney infection since early December. I was lucky that the doctors diagnosed it so quickly when I finally broke down and went to the emergency room!

What followed, though, is what I find to be the biggest difficulty of living with non-top-8 food allergies, especially while being overseas. I needed an antibiotic  in order to heal, but everything the doctor tried to prescribe to me was full of either corn or gluten. Most of the time, the labels did not say "corn," so alerting the pharmacist and medical team that I had to avoid corn made no difference. The doctor gave up pretty quickly, so Ben and I had to spend hours after my appointment on a late Sunday night, researching the medications they had in stock at the pharmacy. Luckily, the pharmacist was patient and did not seem to mind taking out all the pill-based antibiotics there so we could examine the ingredient lists, check websites, and compare them to the very small database of possible "corn-safe" and "gluten-safe" medications others with my allergies have been able to tolerate. The few we did find were cross-reactive to penicillin, and I have a penicillin allergy in my file. (Later on, we did a lab test, since I had a bad allergic reaction last time I had penicillin. The penicillin  test came back negative a few weeks later, so I finally have confirmation that the previous reaction was due to the corn in the meds and not the penicillin itself!) We finally found one, and the pharmacist convinced the doctor to write out another prescription.

Because of the severity of my allergies, she suggested that I take the meds under a doctor's care, so I had to make a follow-up appointment with a family practice doctor before I could start my course of antibiotics. This appointment also took hours, but this time the doctor and pharmacists worked with me to try and find something that was effective and also safe! The issue is that we didn't yet have the penicillin results back, so I was limited by the food-allergies in addition to a possible penicillin allergy. I did have some minor allergic reactions, but after several hospital visits and hours of research, we finally found an antibiotic that was safe for me to take! Unfortunately, though, it was not the best antibiotic for getting rid of a kidney infection. We finally agreed that I would take the full course and then make a follow-up appointment in January if it didn't work.

Fast-forward two weeks, and the kidney infection that had started to go away was now back in full force. Luckily, I received the penicillin labs the same day as my doctor appointment (negative, yay!) and I was able to get a large (4 shot) injection of a strong antibiotic that I was assured should do the trick. The medical staff also recommended taking anti-inflammatory medication (which, of course, I can't take because of the allergies) and to use any home remedies for inflammation that I could find to help the antibiotics do their job.

So, here is the reason for this post! I did some research on several anti-inflammatory foods to help kidney functions, and then put a bunch of them together to create some new recipes. Below is my favorite - even once the infection is gone for good, I'll definitely be using this one. It makes a great, healthy breakfast or snack!

Anti-Inflammatory, Paleo-Friendly Pudding (it's not actually's more the consistency of fro-yo or ice cream. I have no idea of what to call it! If any of you dear readers end up making it and can come up with a stellar name for it, let me know!)


- 1 cup thick coconut milk (I use this one!)
- 1 frozen banana
- 10 frozen cherries
- 1/3 cup fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon

- 1 tbsp flax meal (great anti-oxidant with lots of Omega-3's, and excellent for inflammation)
- 1/2 tsp D-Mannose (excellent for treating a UTI in case you ever have one)


Simply place all of your ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth! If you want a thicker, fro-yo sort of texture, put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes before eating.

**Optional: Since I've been making this concoction every day for the last week or so, I've been experimenting with some ways to change it up a bit.

- Exchange 1/3 of the coconut milk for 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt, especially if you're taking antibiotics! That "good" bacteria is important!
- After blending, add some mix-ins! I like to add some crunch to mine, so I've added different combinations of the following: cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, granola, or even a few chocolate chips to satisfy a sweet tooth!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

yummy yakiniku

If you've been in Japan for very long, you will probably have heard about yakiniku. If you're new to Japanese cuisine, yakiniku is translated as "grilled meat" and refers to a broad variety of bite-sized meats cooked on a grill. It's very easy to make yakiniku at home, and you'll often see locals cooking in this style with portable grills during festivals.

Yakiniku with veggies, rice, and lettuce
This style of cooking is also popular in restaurants, and as many have discovered, not all yakiniku restaurants are considered equal. Many of these establishments include all-you-can eat buffets or sets, where diners can choose their style of raw meats and veggies to cook on their own table-top grills. While it may be tempting to choose an inexpensive ¥1000, all-you-can eat yakiniku restaurant, the variety and quality of ingredients typically won't be very high. This is where Yakiniku King comes in!

Located on Highway 58 between Camp Foster and Kadena Air Base, Yakiniku King offers better quality meats, including several types of beef, chicken, pork, and seafood that are available in differently priced sets. The sets, which start at about ¥2600 per person for dinner, include a variety of different ingredients and meals to choose from. The mid-range set (referred to as the "Standard Course," which costs ¥2900) contains more than 100 different food options, to include rice and lettuce, meat and seafood, noodle dishes, Korean bibimbap, hot pots, various side dishes, and even dessert options!

Once diners have chosen their set, ordering is a breeze! All you have to do is choose the dishes you want to try, using a handy handheld digital tablet. There is even an English option for those customers who aren't able to read Japanese! Once the order is placed electronically, a server will bring your food and beverages right to the table. Orders are unlimited, as long as you place and eat them within the allotted 90 minute time frame.

While ordering on the tablet is entertaining, the real pleasure comes cooking and eating the actual meal. Once your raw food arrives, you can season and cook it to your liking with your table's built-in grill and the provided selection of sauces. Some meats come with sauce already and others come with only salt, so you can use soy, ponzu, lemon, or yakiniku sauce(s) to glaze your meat or use for dipping later on.

Customer service at Yakiniku King is wonderful! The servers can be called to refill drinks or provide a new grill net at the push of a button. The food is of nice quality and the vast variety of foods on the menu provides options for meat-lovers, for vegetarians, and for those who may have food allergies. It's no wonder this place has become one of our family's favorite places for a dinner with friends!

Friday, January 1, 2016

sunrises and fukubukuro

A few year's back, I wrote about some of the Christmas customs in Japan. This year, I thought I'd touch on some of the many traditions surrounding the coming of the new year, also known as Shogatsu!

Before the New Year

While most of the celebrations and traditions take place on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, some of them begin much earlier and continue well into the new year. For example, it's customary to decorate a few days before the new year begins using kadomatsu (ornamental decorations to place outside the home or business) and shimekazari (wreaths that are hung above door posts) made of pine, rice straw, and/or bamboo. These also typically contain items that are considered to be auspicious, such as oranges (to symbolize multiple generations and a long family line), or plum blossoms (symbolic of the spring to come and new life).

                       Shimekazari hanging near a doorway                                           Kadomatsu outside a home

Another tradition that begins a bit before the actual new year is known as o-souji, which literally means "big cleaning." Similar to the American "spring cleaning," this is a time to purify one's house and/or workspace to make them ready and fresh for the new year.

Before the new year arrives, it's customary to send out nengajyo, or New Year's cards. The post offices are often very busy during this time of year because of this, though apps and e-cards to make your own nengajyo are becoming more and more popular. The cards often have the zodiac animal for the new year in addition to wishes for prosperity and health. This is a wonderful way to let friends and family know that you're thinking of them as the new year arrives, just as westerners often do during the Christmas/holiday season.

New Year's card for 2016, the year of the monkey 

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is a time for family and friends! Many travel to their hometowns to be with family during this time, and others host parties and celebrations with food and games. There are a few popular television programs that air annually on New Year's Eve as well! Some of these include Kohaku (a New Year's Eve music show that divides popular musical artists into competing teams) and Gaki no Tsukai  (a variety and comedy show that includes a segment where the participants are put into silly situations and must try not to laugh - if they laugh, they are hit on the behind with a bat, which often makes the rest of the participants laugh).

At midnight, it's customary to visit a local shrine or temple to literally ring in the new year, in addition to giving thanks for the protection of the previous year and to pray for a prosperous year to come. The Buddhist temples ring the bells 108 times at the stroke of midnight to welcome the new year.

Small Shinto shrine near our house at midnight on New Year's Eve

New Year's Day 

Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year, and it's customary to wake up early in order to watch the sun come up for the first time in the new year. Often, mountaintops and beaches are packed with people, as these locations offer beautiful views of the sunrise. We are lucky to live where we do right now, because a beautiful view of the sun rising over the water is just feet away!

Hatsuhinode view from our balcony - Jan. 1, 2016

It's a good thing there are several Starbucks shops nearby for an early morning energy boost, because New Year's Day is a huge day for shopping! Likened to Black Friday, January 1 is a good day to find deals at your favorite shops. While many shops offer store-wide discounts from January 1-5, one of the main draws during this time is known as fukubukuro. Fukubukuro are known as lucky bags - they are basically surprise bags with goods inside. Usually the bags are sealed to keep the contents a secret, though basic descriptions are provided so you at least know the general type of product you're purchasing. Sometimes, sample bags are even displayed so the purchaser has an idea of what to expect!

We've seen fukubukuro at grocery stores, bakeries, mall shops, and even designer suit stores! The bags range in price, depending on the shop and the contents. The price is set for each type of bag, but you won't know what exactly you purchased until you unpack the contents after returning home. Typically, the bags have multiple items inside and the price you pay is a fraction of what you would have paid for the items separately.

Some of the fukubukuro we saw at the mall today

We really lucked out this year with what we bought! It's exciting to have a mall nearby, and we found fukubukuro at many of our favorite shops. After purchasing a few lucky bags, we returned home to unwrap our surprises. We tallied up the total cost of what we spent versus the total worth of the items, and found that we only spent about 1/3 of the total worth! What a deal!

Fukubukuro goodies: great deals on some things we've been wanting for a while!

These are just a few of the many New Year's traditions we've encountered so far in Japan, though I know there are several others! We wish you a happy new year, regardless of where you are, and hope that you enjoy your annual customs and traditions!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

parties with panache: pizza recipes!

I've learned a great deal of things since finding out about my food allergies, and one of them is that social gatherings almost always include food of some sort! It was something I never really put much thought into before it became a matter of survival, and I think it's only when someone is put into that position that they realize how much of our sociality revolves around food. Holidays, birthdays, reunions, family gatherings, parties, end-of-week work gatherings, and even staff meetings include snacks, potlucks, meals, barbecues, and even restaurants. Because of this, those with food allergies have a lot more to think about and prepare for when it comes to being social.

Some venues are easier than others. Potluck picnics and beach barbecues are easy because the allergic person can simply bring their own food. When it involves work functions, friends' houses, and restaurants, though, things can get a bit more difficult.

There are definite social changes that happen when you develop food allergies. Those weekly meetups with friends at the local restaurant become awkward, either on the part of the allergy person who can't eat anything on the menu, or the friends who then feel sorry for them. I noticed this shift when I was finally diagnosed and suddenly had no safe restaurants. The invitations became few and far between in the name of not making me feel bad that I couldn't eat anything on the menu. Instead, it felt isolating to be constantly left out of fun events.

For this reason, we often hosted the parties and game nights at our house. We always had a "safe" area for my food and a potluck area for everyone else. It worked for a while and we loved being able to play host and hostess on special occasions and book clubs and get togethers. This became a nightmare though, when I realized that I was so sensitive that the food my friends brought over was causing cross contamination issues. Ben and I started experimenting with snacks and meals that could be made fairly easily and would feed several people so that having a get together didn't have to be food-less, but also wouldn't mean a Thanksgiving-like event with a whole day of cooking involved. It had to be something that adults would enjoy, but their kids would also eat. It had to be free of multiple allergens and something that could also be served for our vegetarian friends. We started with pizza: the quintessential and easily-customizable party food. After our first party serving the pizza, we had several friends requesting to come over again so they could partake again! Each time, we make a few favorites and try something new, so I thought I'd share some of our favorites in case you ever find yourself in a pizza rut!

The Basics:

For most of our pizzas, we prefer to use the Chebe flour mixes, because they are grain free and are pretty versatile. Many other blends are too watery or too starchy (or don't hold up well as leftovers). Each pizza also uses about a cup of sauce and 1.5-2 cups of mozzarella cheese (I use the Organic Valley brand).

The Sauce:

My favorite prepared sauce is the Organicville pizza sauce. It's got a nice flavor and thickness, and the vinegar is sourced from sugarcane and not corn like most other sauces. I purchase it from Vitacost, and for those of you in the states, I've seen it at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers as well.

I often prepare my own sauce, which is great because I can adjust the thickness and spices as needed. Because we have typically lived in places where fresh, organic tomatoes were not always available, I had to search for a while to find a good substitute. I love the Bionaturae tomato paste, an organic product from Tuscany.

  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water (adjust for preferred thickness)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients, adding the water last. Stir and add water to the thickness you prefer. For the best results, let the sauce rest for an hour to enrich the flavor. Then, spread it on the dough. Remember not to add too much sauce, as you don't want your dough to become soggy! I add my favorite spices to the following toppings and then bake the pizza at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

**Tip: If you're going for a more creamy sauce, substitute the water with a nice, thick coconut milk! These are the two I use most often: Native Forest and Aroy-D.

The Toppings:

There are several different topping variations we've used with the basic sauce and cheese combination.

  • Pepperoni and black olives. Before I was as corn sensitive as I am at this point, I was able to use pepperoni. This is no longer an option for me, but I still do have a safe brand of sausage, so we use sausage with black olives now.
  • Pineapple and peppers. This has been a favorite with our friends - simply dice some different colors of bell peppers along with some pineapple slices for a colorful and tasty combination!
  • Yakiniku meat. We make yakiniku pretty frequently (thinly sliced, grilled beef) and sometimes use the leftovers as a pizza topping. This tastes delicious with black olives, pineapple, and/or bell pepper slices!
  • Cream cheese. This is an idea we got from a Japanese pizza shop. After putting the sauce on, but before adding the cheese, drop some small dabs of cream cheese around the pizza (no need to spread!) I use the Organic Valley cream cheese, as it's the only one I don't seem to be allergic to. 
  • Cream cheese and kabocha. A bonus addition to the previous entry that we recently discovered is kabocha (Japanese winter squash). Slice the squash into quarters and then slice one of the quarters into thin slices. After layering the sauce, cream cheese, and mozzarella, add the squash slices and some garlic to the top before baking.

Stay tuned for some non-red sauce based pizzas, coming up soon!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

tokyo tasting: a gluten free guide to traveling and eating out in tokyo

Having celiac is not easy, and having it in a country that does not really recognize it as an issue makes for an interesting situation. I definitely feel lucky that we figured all of this out while living in a country where the people are extremely helpful and accommodating, but it doesn't help things that most Japanese have never heard of "celiac" or "gluten" and have no idea which foods contain the ingredients I need to avoid. Explaining a "wheat allergy" is simply not enough, since there is hidden gluten in just about everything here.

It's taken a while, but we have finally figured out our "system" here at home. Traveling, though, has been a different story. We originally transferred to Japan so we would be able to travel, experience cultures, and see the world. These were easy to accomplish pre-celiac, but they have become incredibly difficult now. When we travel these days, 2/3 of our baggage contains food in case we can't find restaurants that will serve me (this has happened - while it's frustrating, I'd rather they tell me up front they can't serve me than to serve me food that will make me sick).

On our first trip to Tokyo, I really enjoyed the city but didn't plan to visit again. It was too big, and there were too many people. We added other Japanese cities to our list of places to visit, not envisioning a return to Tokyo in the near future.

Then, celiac happened.

Our first post-diagnosis visit to Tokyo was very different than our previous time. Ben's parents were coming to visit and we had plans to join them in Tokyo for a week before traveling with them back up to Aomori. This trip, I had to research EVERYTHING ahead of time. Our schedules and destinations revolved around the few "safe" restaurants I had researched. The time leading up to our departure was full of anxiety, as there were not many resources and blogs out there to help. Those that did exist gave conflicting information. (Examples include whether plain combini onigiri or senbei are always safe bets... FYI, they're not.) Looking back, though, our trip wasn't half bad! We found a few restaurants that were able to accommodate my dietary restrictions, and even one that specifically had fluent English-speakers to help in situations like mine. The city has become one of my "safe places" and we are always excited to travel there now. We have since visited Tokyo multiple times, and continue to go back to our tried-and-true favorite places.

Sadly, some of these restaurants are no longer open. A few are, though, and I wanted to make sure to write about them in case this information can help anyone traveling to Tokyo with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.  I am extremely sensitive to cross contamination, and have never gotten sick at the following restaurants.

The first restaurant I'd highly recommend is Gonpachi. I have visited several locations of this Tokyo restaurant, and haven't gotten sick at any of them, but my favorite is the one in Nishi Azabu. I have written about this place before, but didn't really go into much detail about their allergy protocols. I was a baby celiac at that point, and I've learned that I was doing so much incorrectly at that point. I have, however, been back to this restaurant several times since, and have still had wonderful experiences every time.

While Gonpachi is an izakaya style restaurant, they use very good quality meats and vegetables in their cooking. Their noodles (which aren't gluten free) are made by hand each day, and they try to source from local farms. I won't eat at most izakaya style restaurants, but this one is my exception because of these reasons. Another reason is that Gonpachi Nishi Azabu has an "allergy specialist" to help people like me figure out what they can eat safely.

At the time of the writing of this blog, Gonapchi Nishi Azabu's allergy specialist is named Teresa. She is fabulous to work with and we always check before heading to Tokyo to ensure she will be working when we visit. Teresa speaks English and is well-versed in finding foods that are safe for those with allergies. She is willing to go back and forth between the customer and the chefs to ensure that the correct ingredients and protocols are taken to keep someone from getting contaminated.

If you go, make sure you ask her to remind the cooking staff to clean the surfaces before cooking your food.

Here are a few of my favorite things off the menu:

  • Asparagus wrapped in bacon. This is quintessential izakaya food if you eat pork. So delicious!
  • Rice bowl. Gonpachi has a few rice bowls, but none of them (as they are on the menu) are safe for someone who is very sensitive. They will, however, make one for you that is, as long as you let them know exactly what you need! I get a modified "takana meshi" - without the pickled mustard leaves and with an addition of grilled chicken and fresh avocado. They bring out all the seaweed and spices separately, so I can see exactly what will go into my bowl before it's done. I mix it up and add my safe soy sauce myself, and it's delicious!
  • Gyutan. I love beef tongue when it's done right, and it's definitely done right here. I ask for the gyutan without the sesame oil, as I have not been able to confirm that it's safe. I just use my safe soy sauce for dipping instead.
  • Chicken on a skewer. I'm not sure that this one is on the menu by itself, but they've never had an issue with making it for me. I love yakitori and rarely get to order it, because it's so difficult to find restaurants with safe cooking practices in terms of cross contamination! I order it shiodake (with salt only) and then use my soy sauce.
  • Yuzu Lime Iced Tea. I look forward to coming to Gonpachi for the yuzu tea more than anything else, especially in the summer. It's so delicious! The first post-celiac time we visited Gonpachi, I was very nervous about trying this again. Even with my corn allergy on top of everything, I did not get sick at all.

All in all, Gonpachi is definitely worth a visit!

My other favorite restaurant in Tokyo is Moti. This is an Indian restaurant near Roppongi Station. The owner speaks some English and while he doesn't know much about gluten or celiac, he is very willing to go over all ingredients with you. I can't say I've branched out as far as the menu goes, because the butter chicken curry is so good that I get it every time.

We have visited every six months or so, and the owners always remember us when we walk in. Just make sure you check every ingredient and let the owners know what you're avoiding so they can check it. Also, ask for rice instead of the naan and you'll be good to go. They have offered sticky rice in the past, so you will need to make sure you opt for plain rice (the sticky rice is not safe).

I hope this is able to help you as you navigate your way through Tokyo! Let me know if you have any great gluten free experiences at either of these (or any other) restaurants in Tokyo!