Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eating gluten free at Tsukasa of Tokyo in Vernon Hills

My husband and I had wanted to take our boys out to a Japanese Steakhouse for a fun dinner. Following the celiac diagnosis, we assumed that we would be unable to do so. But we had a special event at the preschool and we wanted to go out for a fun celebratory dinner afterward. I googled all different word combinations of gluten-free-Japanese-steakhouse-Illinois and nothing popped up. I decided to call the local Japanese place to ask about gf options and I was absolutely delighted to learn that Tsukasa of Tokyo offers a gf option! Upon arrival, it was noted in the reservation log that we would be eating gluten-free, I really like this attention to detail.

Tsukasa offers wheat free tamari and wheat free teriyaki sauce. GF foods are cooked tableside first, and then the regular food is cooked to avoid any cross-contamination on the cooktop. We've been there twice- on December 6 and again on January 2. Sushi dishes are OK ordered with the wheat free tamari. The ginger sauce and hot mustard sauce both have soy sauce in them so are off limits. Too bad because the ginger sauce is really good. Our chefs were very happy to give us small dishes of the wheat free teriyaki sauce for dipping. The soup and salad are off-limits. We ordered plain salads and I brought my own Japanese steakhouse-style salad dressing. Here is the recipe:

There is no gluten free menu and both times our waitress spoke very little English, so it was very helpful that I had already spoken to the manager. Basically, any of the hibachi or teriyaki dishes are OK to order. The fried rice is OK, also. As you can see in my picture, the teriyaki sauce is in a clearly labeled bottle. The tamari was also clearly labeled.

We are so happy to have this option for a special dinner. Our boys had a great time, they loved the theatrics and the cooking and both boys are the food, as well. However, we did have problems during both visits. During our first visit we were a party of 5 and we all ordered gf. The manager approached us just prior to our food being cooked and he was angry that we were all eating gf as it would delay the orders of the 2 other people at our table. On our reservation it had been noted that there was only 1 gf diner. He moved those people to another table. His irritation was very obvious. During our second visit we were a party of 8 all ordering gluten free and we had our own table. The waitress brought us soup and she insisted that it was gluten free. We did not eat it because of my prior discussion with the manager. But there was clearly a discrepancy and due to the language barrier it was hard to discuss the specific ingredients with the waitress. During a follow-up telephone call the manager confirmed that the soup is not gf.

A Japanese steakhouse is only as good as the chef cooking and we had great fun during both visits. During the second visit, my 4 year old really really wanted to catch a piece of broccoli in his mouth. He began talking to the chef about it as soon as we arrived. After several misses, the chef told my son to tilt his head back and close his eyes. He then handed me a piece of broccoli that I dropped into my son's mouth. What a fabulous trick! My son now has a favorite restaurant and we will definitely be back.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that we went - it was fun. Can't wait for the 13th~


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