The Celiac Scene’s Gluten-Free Restaurant Round Up for Victoria

Celiac Scene Empress LogoDear Celiac Scene followers!  We thank you for keeping this resource vibrant and safe with your ongoing suggestions. We visit your recommended Victoria restaurants in person to ensure the safety of the local gluten-free community.

I arrive during down times and introduce myself with a friendly handshake and hard copies of the excellent information sheets created by the Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association

Gluten-Free Diet Guidelines
Keep Gluten-Free Foods Gluten Free

I also carry with me a mental check list of the Gluten-Free Questions the Scene developed after more than 15 years of vetting local restaurants. Depending upon how any given manager / owner answers, I take it from there. Here are the results of my discussions – four excellent, one a cautionary tale.

If you have a restaurant suggestion or concern for The Celiac Scene, please contact us at anytime!

J and J's Wonton Noodle HouseJeremy asked whether the deep-fried items on J and J’s Wonton Noodle House’s Gluten-Free menu are cooked in a dedicated or shared fryer.

I popped over and spoke to Jasmine who shared that they do indeed have a dedicated GF fryer for any and all fried items on their GF menu. They also have a separate cutting board for us and whenever a wok is involved, it is throughly scrubbed before they start our order.

I have every confidence in JJ’s and suggest that celiac diners take full advantage of these very rare deep-fried offerings!

J and J’s Wonton Noodle House
1012 Fort Street (see map)
Click on Gluten-Free Tab to view menu

If you can recommend a Chinese food restaurant, please contact us at anytime!

Osaka SushiMatthew asked whether the vinegar that Osaka Sushi Restaurant uses is gluten free.

I was very warmly greeted by the staff at Osaka on a recent,  rainy November afternoon. When I inquired about the concerns raised about Japanese vinegars, her knowing smile revealed that she had answered this question before. She explained that most Japanese restaurants in Victoria import their vinegar directly from Japan, but that the containers do not bear an ingredient list. Erring on the side of safety, Osaka does not use this vinegar in the meals they prepare for customers who identify themselves as requiring a celiac-safe meal.

Osaka Sushi
1951 Oak Bay Ave (see map)

If you can recommend a Japanese restaurant, please contact us!

Bubble Tea PalacePaige asked whether the tea served at Bubble Tea Place is gluten free.

I popped by Bubble Tea Place in Victoria’s Chinatown, and spoke with manager Graysen about the gluten-free status of his teas. He was only too happy to haul out container after container of  the flavourings* that are added to the creamers and sweeteners that make up bubble teas. These popular Taiwanese confections indicated no gluten-containing grains on their labels.  The tapioca beads that are a part of these beverages also did not contain gluten ingredients. As far as we were able to determine,  gluten is not used at Bubble Tea Place and / or in making these fabulous treats. Thank you to Paige for offering us a new frontier for the gluten free!

Bubble Tea Place
532 Fisgard Street (see map)
Bubble Tea Facebook

If you can recommend a Bubble Tea provider, please contact us!

Chopped Leaf Logo

The Celiac Scene is curious about Chopped Leaf!

A menu that includes chef-designed bowls and salads that focus on being natural, flavourful and made with high-quality nutritious ingredients captured my attention. Chopped Leaf’s Menu clearly commits to gluten free. They support that with online nutritional information. However, I was keen to determine whether their preparation protocol could corroborate those claims. When I arrived unannounced, co-owner Shannon was only too pleased to personally tour me through Chopped Leaf’s busy kitchen. I love that kind of transparency!

Clearly, celiacs cannot have any of their gluten sandwich, quesadilla and wrap options but salads and bowls are all ours if an accompanying tortilla is left off. It gets better – gluten sandwiches are made at one counter, bowls and salads are made at another, minimizing if not preventing cross contact between bin ingredients.

Dressings – all but the Caesar & Chipotle Ranch are GF.  Each sauce bin has a dedicated ladle.

One hot spot does exist. Bins of cranberries and pecans used for all dishes are housed immediately next to a bread container. Celiacs should ask that dried cranberries and pecans be sourced from the back – or left out of their order entirely.

All Chopped Leaf staff are familiar with the gluten-free options they offer and will go over and above if you explain that you require a scrupulously gluten-free meal. Like most restaurants, Chopped Leaf however does do advise that there is always a risk of cross contact.

Chopped Leaf
3500 Uptown Blvd (see map – a couple of steps away from Noodlebox Restaurant)

If you can recommend a health-food restaurant, please contact us!

White Heather Tea RoomCan gluten-free high tea be had at White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay? Proceed with caution. 

Reports from out-of-town celiacs who recommended White Heather prompted a visit. Owner Sherry very generously took the time to explain that they can offer ‘gluten-free options’ to customers who ask.

Portofino Tested-to-be-Gluten-Free Bread is used for sandwiches. Bread fillings (cheese, vegetables, meats, cream cheeses) are prepared fresh for each sandwich ie. kitchen staff don not reach into shared bins. Separate cutting boards are used to make gluten-free orders.

HOWEVER: gluten baking and baking promoted as ‘gluten free’ are actively created within the confines of White Heather’s tiny, busy kitchen. The same mixers, pans and utensils are used for both lines. Both lines are baked in the same oven, sometimes at the same time. Sherry could not attest to any provisions that would prevent airborne contamination of kitchen surfaces, baked products and serving plates.

White Heather’s ‘gluten-free’ offerings may be appropriate for those on a reduced-gluten diet. As a celiac, I would not feel comfortable partaking of food prepared in such a setting.

White Heather Tea Room
1885 Oak Bay Ave (see map)
White Heather Tea

If you have enjoyed a safe and delicious high tea, please contact us!