Are you allergic to gluten or sensitive to it? About 0.8 percent of Americans have celiac disease or are allergic to gluten. This allergy mainly affects people in northern Europe or people of northern-European descent.
Here are tips about how to find gluten-free food while traveling in China, and tips about how to order gluten-free food in a Chinese restaurant. Some celiac friendly products and restaurants are listed, and some medical information is presented in case of an allergic reaction. We hope these tips help celiacs or gluten-sensitive people to travel China more freely and enjoyably.
Gluten is a protein and starch composite that is found in grains such as wheat, oat, rye, barley and spelt. It isn't present in rice or corn. So these are safe grains for people to eat. When traveling in China, be aware that though rice and rice noodle dishes are a staple of most areas of the country, wheat is often added to rice dishes and is commonly added to soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce and other flavorings.
Take Your Food with You
Consider bringing food you like with you so you can eat well. Consider almonds and other nuts, protein powder, canned tuna fish, your favorite breakfast cereal, beverage powders, energy bars, and other foods to supplement the white rice and fresh fruit you'll probably be able to find everywhere.
Bring a Written Request in Chinese
MSG and flavorings with hydrolyzed starch are usually added by Chinese cooks, and wheat flour is often added to soups, stir-fried dishes, and fried dishes. So if you want to eat in Chinese restaurants, it is useful to bring a card or paper with a clear description of your allergy and what kind of food you want to eat. Most Chinese cooks have little or no knowledge of your condition.
You can perhaps print out this page and carry it with you, or show it to the cooks in the kitchen with an iPad or other device.
- Celiac disease is written 腹腔疾病 (fùqiāng jíbìng).
- 您好. 我有一个病叫腹腔疾病. Hello. I have a disease called celiac disease.
- 我必须遵循严格的无麸质饮食. I must follow a strict gluten-free diet.
- 如果我吃的食物含有小麦、黑麦、燕麦、大麦等麸质，我会生病很严重. If I eat food containing wheat, rye, oats, or barley gluten, I'll get very ill.
- 我不能吃含任何酱油、面粉、淀粉、面糊、面包、味精的食物. I can not eat foods containing soy sauce, flour, starch, batter, bread or MSG.
- 我能吃大米、玉米、土豆、蔬菜、水果、鸡蛋、肉和鱼. I can eat rice, corn, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, and fish.
- 谢谢您的帮助. Thank you for your help.
If after all your precautions you eat gluten-containing food, you may have a severe reaction and exhibit a range of symptoms, such as abdominal pains or cramps, vomiting, flatulence, fatigue, heartburn, nausea, or pain in the chest or back. If you experience a severe attack and want to go to the hospital, take the information about celiac disease with you that is written above.
Generally, there is no remedy for the attack except rest and drinking fluids (fresh green tea should help), and perhaps taking oral painkillers, antinausea medications, or antidiarrheal medicines such as Pepto Bismol.
However, because this disease is less common than in the the US and Europe, Chinese doctors may think you are having a heart attack. If you are sure your symptoms are from eating gluten, using the written Chinese information below, try to explain about the disease and ask for the medications you think you might need. If you have a doctor, you could suggest that the hospital call your doctor for advice. Then rest and ride it out.
Shops, Restaurants, and Hotels for Celiacs
- Jenny Lou's (婕妮路): 6 North Street, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District (朝阳区三里屯北小街6号), at the West Gate of Chaoyang Park and April Gourmet in the Park Avenue complex are two upmarket stores that stock imported US and Australian brands.
- April Gourmet (绿叶子): 1 North Street, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District (三里屯北小街1号)
- The Sweet Spot: L100A Shop, Building B1, Guomao Commercial City 1 period, No.1 Jianguo Menwai Main Street, Chaoyang District (朝阳区建国门外大街1号国贸写字楼1期大堂-L100A店铺)
- Chao Fusion Food at Solona (潮): RS-17 Shop, Building 11, Solana, 6 Chaoyang Park Road, Chaoyang District (北京市朝阳区朝阳公园路6号蓝色港湾国际商区11栋RS—17号商铺), +86 5905 1778
- Bastiaan Bakery (跋式面包咖啡屋): No.2188 Hu Qing Ping Highway (沪青平公路2188号)
- Carrefour Super Market (家乐福): There are some Carrefour Super Markets in Shanghai which you can buy gluten free products.
- City Shop (城市超市): There are more than 10 City Shops in Shanghai, and you can buy gluten free products here. Adressse:
B1F, Sun Moon Light Center Square, No.618, Xu Jia Hui Rd. (Line 9, Da Pu Qiao Station) (徐家汇路618号日月光中心广场B1层(九号线打浦桥路站));
Shop 08A, Basement, Novel Place, No.131, Tian Yao Qiao Rd (天钥桥路131号（辛耕路)永新坊地下08a室);
B1F, Shanghai Film Art Center, No.160 Xin Hua Rd (新华路160号上海影城地下一层)
- Fresh Mart (鲜品馆): B1, City Plaza / Jiuguang Department Store, 1618 at West Nanjing Road, Jingan District (静安区南京西路1618号久光百货B1楼)
- Olé: B101, Hongqiao Nanfengcheng, No. 100, Zunyi Rd, Changning District (长宁区遵义路100号虹桥南丰城 B101号). Kerry Parkside in Pudong, imported GF Products.
- Greenology (大蔬无界): No.392 Tianping Road, Xuhui District, near Xugui Park (Former French Concession) (徐汇区天平路392号,近徐汇公园), Tel: 021-34692857
- Melange Oasis:37–Building D, 259 Lane, Jiashan Rd, Xuhui District, near Jianguo West Rd, (徐汇区嘉善路259弄37号D楼,近建国西路),Tel: 6433 7727
- Oliver's Shop (利华精品美食店): 201-205, Prince's Building, 10 Chater Road, Central (中环太子大厦2楼), +85 2810 7710
- Great Food Hall: Basement, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty (金钟道88号太古广场地库), +852918 9986
- Just Green Organic Convenience Store:
1/F, Wong Chung Ming Commercial House, 16 Wyndham Street, Central (中环咸街16号王仲铭商业大厦1楼)
52 Graham, Soho, Central (中环苏豪嘉咸街52号)
- Three Sixty Organic Supermarket:
Shop 1090, 1/F Elements, Union Square, Kowloon Station (九龙站圆方1楼1090号铺)
3-4 floor, Landmark in Central(中环置地广场3楼及4楼)
- Morton's Steakhouse (莫尔顿牛排坊): Sheraton Hotel Towers 4/F, 20 Nathan Road, Kowloon, (弥敦道20号香港喜来登酒店4楼),+85 227322343
- Green Waffle Diner:
3, G/F, Kar Ho Building, 35-39 Graham Street, Central Shop (嘉咸街35-39号嘉豪大厦地舖)
Shops 10, 1/F, J.P. Plaza, No.22-36 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay, (铜锣湾百德新街22-36号翡翠明珠广场1楼10号商铺)
- La Creperie: G/F, 69 Jervois Street ,Sheung Wan (上环苏杭街69号)
- Maya Cafe (玛雅咖啡): G7 Shop, Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road Central, Central (中环辅道173号南丰大厦G7商铺)
- The Chairman (大班楼):No.18 Kau U Fong, Central (中环九如坊18号)
Most of the big name hotels and chains in Beijing/Shanghai/Hong Kong can provide gluten-free bread etc. on request: Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Langham, Park Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Shangri-la, Sheraton. Usually one week's notice is required. Inquire when booking. For other cities this service is less likely, but some (expensive) hotels may still oblige.
A Chinese Guide is Helpful
If you travel with one of our tour guides on a personalized tour or take part in a standard tour package, they can try to arrange for the special preparation of dishes you need, or help you find alternatives. For many people, traveling in China is daunting without a good guide. But since you have a special diet, we can help you travel and eat well. See our recommended tours below for inspiration:
- 8-Day Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai Tour — the Golden Triangle
- 12-Day Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Yangtze River, and Shanghai Tour — includes a giant pandas experience
Our tours can be customized. Just tell us your requirements and interests, and our guide can assist in making sure your food is carefully prepared, so you enjoy a wonderful trip without worrying about what might be lurking in your bowl.