Gluten-free Asian fusion (yes, it’s possible)

After nearly 20 years living with Celiac disease I’d pretty much given up on ever finding gluten-free Asian food. This was particularly disappointing for me because I’d always loved Chinese food, but there seemed to me to be too much risk involved – it’s difficult to find a gluten-free soy sauce, a staple in Chinese cooking, and many Asian flavourings often contain hidden gluten.

While on a trip to Toronto this summer, a waitress was sympathetic to my dietary restrictions and mentioned that her boyfriend also has Celiac disease and he loves eating at Riz, an Asian food restaurant with two different locations in Toronto. I was floored…gluten-free Asian food? Are you kidding me?

A quick Google search later revealed she was not kidding. Riz is a popular restaurant in Toronto who also – quietly and without much advertising – serves gluten free food. I was in Toronto for another few days and made a point of stopping at Riz to see (and taste) for myself.

After nearly two decades without tasting Asian food that I didn’t prepare myself, at home, Riz was an experience to remember. They offer a tasting menu where you can order all you can eat of as many menu items as you want, all gluten free!  The only restriction is you get a charge if you leave anything behind on the plate (leave something behind, are you kidding me?).

Even better the gluten-free dishes are all clearly labelled gluten-free!


Gluten-free sweet and sour chicken balls, chinese ribs, chinese fried rice, spring rolls, pho….I ate them all. I ate and ate and ate. I actually ate so much I felt a little sick, but cleaned my plate regardless.

It turns out the owners of Riz knew someone who had Celiac disease and seeing how they struggled to find food they could eat, they decided to make a portion of their menu gluten-free. Eating at Riz was hands-down my most exciting experience during a five-day trip to Toronto, and numerous dining experiences. Riz has two locations, one on Bayview and one on Yonge, but both offer gluten-free options.

Now I’m just trying to figure out how to get them to open a location in Ottawa so I can enjoy eating there regularly.


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