Gluten-Free Bitches Get Stuff Done


Gluten-Free Crispy Soft-Shelled Crab, Anyone? This Time, With No Pooping!

Oh man, you guys, I have had a gluten-free experience of epic proportions. As in, I kind of changed the world. Or rather, ummm, one restaurant in Los Angeles. Sure I didn’t do it on purpose and was more the result of a temper tantrum than a thoughtful discussion on the advantages of eating whole foods, but still.

You may remember how excited I got when I learned how to enjoy gluten-free sushi again at Katsuya in Studio City. Which is why I was not at all worried when my mother-in-law came to town to treat her children and their lucky spouses to dinner before we enjoyed The Book of Mormon as it landed right smack in the middle of Hollywood. Because Katsuya has another branch in that family tree in that neighborhood as well, one that looks like it comes from Vegas, but still — same thing, right?

Totally not.

Let’s make a long painful story short. As I was being seated in the flashier Hollywood sushi joint, I asked the hostess about a gluten-free menu. That nice lady informed me that my server could fill me in on gluten-free options. My server, however, had other plans. Plans that included alternately snapping at me and refusing to acknowledge that I existed. Before I could even process her claims that there was nothing I could eat, followed by her admonishment that she “never said that,” my sister-in-law was in full protection mode and turned to me and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

But all I could hear was the inside of my head screaming “We can’t miss Book of Mormon!!! We can’t miss Book of Mormon!!!” After all, I’d already tried to get into two other area restaurants and they were booked. This isn’t Theatre Row in NYC. When you dine pre-theater in LA, you take a right outside the restaurant you’re in and you’ll wind up having cigarettes and bottle of Thunderbird for dinner. So I took a big breath, and tried to have a discussion with my server about what I might be able to eat at the restaurant that apparently puts wheat vinegar in all of their rice and sous vides every cut of meat with soy sauce. It turns out, there were a few things on the menu the chef could turn gf, and so I ordered all of them. Or so I thought.

Clearly I’m not making this long story short. So I’ll skip right over the violent illness that followed and stuck with me for three days, and the three weeks of being not quite right on account of all the gluten I ate at Katsuya in Hollywood. As I tend to do, right in the middle of a massive stomach cramp I got crazy. Instead of stripping naked and telling my husband he should remarry quickly after I dropped dead, I composed an especially angry email to the press department of Katsuya. And what followed was nothing short of amazing.

The good people at Katsuya proceeded to roll out the red carpet. In addition to an apologetic email, they informed me that they would be creating a gluten-free menu for the restaurant and asked me back to partake in the gluten-free goodness that is this salmon sashimi with caviar -

And the kobe beef tabanyaki with wild mushrooms-

The gluten-free menu also includes edamame, kiwi scallops, halibut wrapped crab and avocado, sautéed shishito peppers, halibut usuzukuri, shrimp tobanyaki with mushrooms and asparagus, creme brulee, and that amazing crispy soft shell crab you see in the first photo. The manager came over a zillion times to make sure we were enjoying the beautiful gluten-free options, as well as to provide sympathy as I told my tale of woe — again. I mean, I can whine people. And so I did.

The entire staff at Katsuya were so incredibly apologetic and accommodating that it became downright embarrassing. For me. After all when the hostess says, “It’s so nice to see you again, April,” I immediately know that she’s thinking “That’s the lady who pooped her pants after leaving our restaurant.”

I wasn’t looking for a free meal from Katsuya when I wrote my angry letter. And I never thought an entire gluten-free menu would be developed for those who come after. Honestly, I was hurt and angry and not unlike my toddler, my one thought was, “That lady hurt my feelings by being mean! She needs a time out!”  But the restaurant actually went proactive and created a menu and procedures so people like us can dine in without fear. Thus, getting rid of any issues that may come between the time you announce your gluten-freeness and your food arrives.

That’s pretty cool, and I would bet, incredibly rare. So if you’re hanging around Hollywood and Vine, drop in and say thanks to the management at Katsuya. That one waitress though, not so much.

What do you do when you have a bad gluten’ing?

13 Comments

Filed under Celiac Disease, Gluten Free Restaurants, Uncategorized

13 responses to “Gluten-Free Bitches Get Stuff Done

  1. Eva

    I support my Gluten free bitch!!

  2. Woo hoo! Get it done!

    My worst experience was when I was freshly diagnosed with celiac and I went to a Leona’s where I asked all my questions about the chicken and when it came, it looked like it could be slightly breaded. I called the waitress back to double check and her words (that my friends still make fun of TO THIS DAY 12 YEARS LATER!): “It’s not breading, it’s seasoning.” Taking her word for it I dug in. Halfway through my meal the manager came over and said “um…who was the one asking about breading? yeah, that chicken is breaded.”

    There was literally a take the needle off the record screech as we all stopped eating and stared wide-eyed at her. Sigh. I think I got the meal comp’ed I don’t remember. Either way, I do remember excusing myself to go home and have explosive diarrhea right after that. :(

  3. You are a rock star. Keep the poop stories coming. We gluten free (and grain free) peeps appreciate the ..erm…pressure you put on them. :)

  4. That is so funny, because when I went to ‘Book of Mormon’ at the end of September, I walked the big block on over to the only place I knew to be safe – Tender Greens. But Hollywood’s ‘Tender Greens’ is no Santa Monica’s ‘Tender Greens’. When I went in to get my usual, it was not on the menu, so I went with good ole’ steak salad.

    I noted that the order-taker didn’t respond with, “I’ll put it in as an allergy” after my speech about no bread, extra beets like they do in Santa Monica, then when my food finally arrived it was DRENCHED in dressing, skimpy on the beets (and good god, I love beets) and the dressing, overwhelming as it was, seemed off. Gritty. Like there were breadcrumbs in it? I’ll never know the answer to that part, because as I turned over a butter lettuce leaf 1/3 of the way in I uncovered a CROUTON.

    And I responded to that crouton like it was a beetle or mouse carcass in front of the entire TG line, because all I could think was “oh my god, ‘Book of Mormon’, oh my god, ‘Book of Mormon’,” for which I had just lost the ticket lottery, but got so damn excited I shelled out the big bucks for it instead.

    So TG comp’d me and gave me a gift card, because I was quite distraught, but what I don’t think they understand is that those things, while nice, don’t make up for the 20 minutes of induced vomiting that followed, or the $18 I spent at the theater on plastic cups of wine trying to burn the gluten out, or that I was sweaty, sleepy AND drunk during my entire fancy pre-birthday musical theater experience just because someone was negligent, ignorant and/or lazy somewhere that advertises itself as knowledgable and safe.

    So, long story long, I love you, I love your power, and I will go to Katsuya the next time I train into Hollywood. Keep making L.A. safe for our kind.

    • OMG!!! That’s crazy. That’s my Tender Greens and 9 out of 10 times they’re great. But when that one person is clueless . . . It also makes me realize we should have gone there for dinner instead. Well, except for your whole thing, I guess.

    • Also, incidentally, I tried to kill gluten with alcohol recently. It does not work as well as you think it would. But I’m guessing you got that memo.

  5. Great job, and GREAT response! I blog about anywhere that I eat and then I send them the link to the post. You can normally tell the quality of the place by their response (or lack of). The two best experiences I’ve had are a restaurant saying not only did they have GF options and a separate place for prepping them in the kitchen, but they would update their menu to reflect this. One of my followers was able to take his coeliac wife out for dinner there as a result! The other one was a high tea I went to, where I gave them 3 weeks notice that I was gluten-intolerant, and the high tea was beyond ordinary for me (although the non GF people had a lovely one). They replied saying they were very sorry, and just this week, SIX months later, they’ve emailed me to say they’ve revised their whole menu, they prepare all their GF stuff in house and they’d really like me to come back and see if they’ve improved, so here’s a comp voucher for two people. Now that’s good customer service, although I don’t think it quite matches up to your experience!

  6. I wish all restaurants would go above and beyond to progress with the times and fix their mistakes! Good for you!

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  10. Melanie

    Well, I usually throw up WHILE having explosive diarrhea. And, yeah, the nakedness. Once I emerge from the bathroom–I try to call the manager. And then I email. And…the last time…after not getting ANY response…The Husband yelped.

    Now…it was particularly upsetting because I’d A: Called ahead. B: Quizzed the server 3: Ordered carefully. I mean, a baked potato, a steak (told ‘em to leave the sauce off) and roasted vegetables…what could have had gluten in it? I’m guessing it was the veg–it had a sauce.

    I didn’t eat out again for a very long time.

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