Do You Automatically Avoid All Chinese Food Restaurants? Why?

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Okay, not having had Chinese food for several years now, and having just eaten some stir fried rice (my version thereof), I'm wondering how many people automatically avoid chinese food?

Do you know, I've almost forgotten why, but not quite. I know that pb *can* be used to seal egg rolls.

The last time I went into a Chinese food restaurant, it was when I was living in Stayner, so within the last six years, but probably close to the beginning, so six years ago, closer to diagnosis.

We asked what we thought were the right questions and we actually didn't order Chinese food - we ordered a regular breakfast. But what I found there was that there was a huge language barrier - the people were Chinese and did not speak English well at all.

I do remember shortly after diagnosis, when we were still living in Toronto, we did order Chinese food for some type of celebration we were having at home. And I do believe I asked all the "right" questions then. I also know that while still in Toronto, I called The Mandarin (a chain of Chinese food restaurants) and to me, it would appear that they were PA safe (at that time, many years ago).

In Belleville, I didn't even try because I thought of the language barrier again. But now that I'm back in Toronto, I'm wondering if this is now a possibility or if I should continue to make my own fried rice.

Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]


On Oct 13, 2004

Count me as someone who routinely avoids Chinese restaurants. Once in awhile when my son (PA/TNA) is on a sleepover, my husband and I will order Chinese and then scour everything down after. mmmm, we really do enjoy it tho. But, just seeing the menu with the peanuts in the dishes, and then ordering - definitely a language barrier, I never felt like I would take my son for Chinese.

I did buy a Chinese cookbook about two years ago, with great intentions. But when it came down to buying ingredients, I chickened out. Not sure what oyster sauce is, do I really want to use sesame oil, I think water chestnuts are ok - but not sure - these are the kinds of questions that stopped me. Guess my motivation was not so great.

I'm curious if other people have found Chinese places they trust.

On Oct 13, 2004

Hi, we avoid chinese food because we have heard that some of the food is made with peanut oil, and that pb is used in some eggrolls. I also remember pre-PA that there were several dishes that contained peanuts at the chinese resteraunts we used to go to. Since the PA diagnosis though we have not tried to eat at any chinese resteraunts to I have never asked about all of this stuff myself...probably best to investigate your personal place of preference and see what they use! [img][/img] Best wishes

On Oct 14, 2004


I have been allergic to peanuts and treenuts since the age of one. I frequently eat in Chinese restaurants and have lived and traveled in China and Hong Kong numerous times. While I am not Chinese I do speak Mandarin and my husband is from Hong Kong and speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin. When I eat out I always tell them what I am allergic to. I have run across a few other people in Beijing who are nut allergic they all take the same precautions I take and are fine. Peanut oil in China is not used very often-they prefer to use what they call salad oil (soy or corn oil). I haven't run across many restaurants in this country that use peanut oil either. I am a vegetarian-I don't know if that has helped in this situation though many of those I mentioned earlier are not vegetarian. Let me know if you have any questions. I do avoid thai food though even though I have eaten it a few times without a problem I just don't like to eat in Thai restaurants.


On Oct 14, 2004

We avoid Chinese restaurants too. They have dishes that have peanuts in them. Therefore, so the woks and utensils are contaminated. Not worth the risk to me.

I make stir-fried broccoli with soy sauce and a little bit of sesame oil. My pa dd loves it.

On Oct 14, 2004

We have always avoided all Chinese restraunts- with our son, we figure the cross contamination would be too great. With peanuts, almonds, peanut oil. Maybe someday- but for now that is where We go for date night when Alex spends the night at grandmas.

On Oct 14, 2004

Ditto here - we go there on our date nights - meaning a couple of times a year if we are lucky. I asked at the Thai place I love so much. The owner said very politely that he would try very hard to make a dish safe for my Michael, but then he looked me straight in the eye and said but if it was really life threatening, he wouldn't risk it if it were his child. I was very grateful for the frank answer.

As far as the Chinese place in town, they claim to not use any Peanut oil in the building, but I've always assumed that they get at least some of their products pre-packaged. And here too, there was a language barrier - so I never got that warm & fuzzy feeling.

So we eat Chinese & Thai food out when we don't have the kids with us. Or I cook it at home - I got that cook book from Costco a few years ago, and I've gotten pretty decent at a couple of simple dishes.

I miss Drunken Noodles! I should try to find a recipe to cook it at home.

------------------ Sherlyn Mom to 4 year old twins Ben & Mike - one PA & the other not. Stay Informed And Peanut Free!

On Oct 14, 2004

We avoid Chinese restaurants because of the cross contamination. Many chinese restaurants use peanuts or almonds (or other tree nuts) in the dishes. I don't particularly like chinese food so it is no bother to me.

On Oct 14, 2004

Aaah, the thing I miss most, more than ice cream or bakery goods.

Between the peanuts, cashews, walnut and almond cross-contamination, and the fact that DS is also sesame allergic, Chinese food (as well as Thai and Vietnamese for that matter) are totally off limits.

There is this great little Vietnamese restaurant near my mom's that is very reasonably priced. Sometimes while my kids are at school my mom and I go there and just totally pig out. Sheer heaven!


On Oct 14, 2004

For a while....we did. At one place. I mean, we heard all [i]the right stuff[/i] from the owners and staff. The chef who prepared the food we would eat came out to check with us. We custom ordered.

The last time we went in, I saw a big ceramic covered dish styled in the shape of a peanut for sale in the display case by the register. We left. I took it as a silent message from where-ever. Too Creepy.

General Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form.

On Oct 14, 2004


Originally posted by MommaBear: [b]For a while....we did. [/b]

just clarifying, after reading the replies, I thought the original question was pertaining to whether or not we ever ate at a "chinese restaurant". (oops)

anywhooooooooo just read the thread, and found it timely since tonight I had made my version of "chinese food". (I think I do a *good job*. [img][/img] )

mmmmmmmmmmmm. I love making and eating fried rice sticks. love it when they poof up.

hint: we crunch them up with a paper napkin before eating them.

On Oct 14, 2004

We avoid...which is a deep and painful scarifice (haha)! However, DDs last reaction was a contact, cross contamination reaction from something at the restaurant.

On Oct 14, 2004

We used to occasionally eat at a Chinese restaurant but we would always take along my son's 'safe' food.

The owner of the restaurant, whom we were VERY good friends with, had a seafood allergy and guaranteed that he could prepare something safe for my son, but I never would allow my son to eat it.

I have heard that most of the time they don't truly clean the woks out between meals as they like the oils and seasonings to penetrate deep into the woks. Now, I am not sure if this is accurate or not...but I can understand the reasoning behind it.

On Oct 14, 2004

We avoid Chinese restaurants when Jason is with us, but he's anaphylactic to shellfish and tree nuts and allergic to soy, sesame, and egg, as well as peanut allergic. Not worth the risk.

We do pick up take out Chinese occasionally, but we never let him eat it, and we use disposable plates and utensils to eat it with.

edited to add: we do take Jason to Vietnamese noodle houses (Pho) though. He's only allowed to order 1 item off the menu, and the rest of us make it a point not to order shellfish or peanut bearing items.

[This message has been edited by solarflare (edited October 15, 2004).]

On Oct 15, 2004

We do eat at a few different Chinese restaurants. We're careful what we order, and that's about it. This has worked out fine for dd, fortunately.

[img][/img] Miriam

On Oct 15, 2004

We never take our PA son to chinese restaurants. When you consider how little most people understand PA, add english as a second language, it makes sense to skip.

However, my PA son absolutely loves potstickers. He's been eating Safeway brand Chicken & Pork potstickers for years with no problem.

I haven't successfully made any chinese dishes at home. I worry about imported ingredients and the potential for cross contamination. Anyone know of safe hoisin?

I'd love any recipes you all have had success with.

------------------ Jean

"Man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion." - Much Ado about Nothing

On Oct 17, 2004

Kung Pao Chicken = PEANUTS

Sesame Noodles = Peanut Butter

Cross-contamination risk too high!

On Oct 17, 2004

Jeepers! Eventhough I have no food allergies I get this weezy feeling after eating the Cashew Chicken even without MSG. I'm sensitive to their god dammned perservatives and other s--- they add. I can't prononuce half of the entress. Try saying Mu-Shu chicken or Yang Tang's chicken. And how can you trust the waiter since it can be hard to understand what they are saying.

I don't mean to be racists in anyway. I like Asian People,and will go to a select few restaurants given they spell out what the heck makes me so tired and then I get hungry right away.

Plese accept my appologies if I have offended you but this is my opinion.

On Oct 17, 2004

travelplus - if you are apologizing within the post- more than once...why bother posting. I dont usually repsond to posts like this, have offended, once again. Thats all I have to say.

On Oct 18, 2004

Im sorry

On Oct 18, 2004

We avoid all Asian food due to my son's PA,TNA, Shellfish, Seafood, Sesame and Soy allergies. I would assume that there is at least one if not all of these cross contamination hazzards in all Asian type restaurants and food. That is not to say that we don't miss it dearly but I love my son dearly more!!! Be well.

On Oct 19, 2004

We do not visit any ethnic restaurants anymore [img][/img] Too risky with my dd being allergic to PN/ all tree nuts and sesame seeds!

I want her to grow up without these types of restaurants in her life. It is way to risky to visit Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian restaurants and others I'm sure.

As our children get older, I feel more scared than I do now since I can control most everything.

I remeber reading many posts here about young adults that have died as a result of eating some sort of ethnic food that they thought was safe- usually when being in an unfamiliar restaurant.

I am scared to death for my dd. If we don't go to these restaurants now and as she is growing up she will hopefully continue on with what we have taught her-

I don't really feel that we have a choice- especially due to the cross contamination between her TN allergy and sesame allergy- we would be doomed in this situation!

When my dh do go out, we tend to do ethnic foods as we do miss them ourselves!

On Oct 23, 2004


Originally posted by California Mom: [b]We do eat at a few different Chinese restaurants. We're careful what we order, and that's about it. This has worked out fine for dd, fortunately.

[img][/img] Miriam[/b]

Hi Miriam,

I eat at Chinese restaurants frequently as well and have not had any problems. However, I do ask questions when I arrive, just as I would do at other restaurants. [img][/img]

On Oct 23, 2004

We do like many of you & eat it when aidan's not around. He is allergic to seafood, peanuts, pork & eggs so it is not worth us taking a chance with him. But I wanted to let people know that alot of rest. marinade their meats in eggs. So be careful for egg allergies. Hope this helps [img][/img]

On Oct 27, 2004

Cindy, We haven't and never plan to eat at an Asian restaurant with my PA 3 y/o dd. My husband and I have it only when we are not with her. Just not worth the risk in our book!

On Oct 29, 2004

My parents used to take us to a chinese restaurant when I was a kind and they didn't realize how serious my PA was (and tree nuts). Luckily, by just ordering dishes that obviously didn't contain peanuts or other nuts, I never had a reaction. We went there so often though that I wonder if my parents knew the manager well enough that he ensured my safety. [img][/img]

I haven't eaten Chinese food since I was about 12 though (I'm 35 now). I have heard too many horror stories of people who died from cross-contamination. I've just decided it's not worth the risk. I am hoping that someday...somewhere...there will be more restaurants that are peanut and tree nut free in the future...since more and more people have this allergy now.


On Feb 4, 2005

One of my DD's first "phantom" reactions before her diagnosis was to Chinese food. We called them "phantom" because she would turn red after eating and we couldn't figure out a common ingredient in anything. I never considered peanuts because I had never give them to her -- or at least I thought. When she had her first bite of PB cookies (which she snuck during a playgroup) she had a reaction serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. After I educated myself I realized all the phantom reactions were due to cross-contamination; cc that was all sensitizing her to peanuts.

From what I understand, peanuts are used often in Chinese cooking as is peanut oil. They often use utensils & frying pans for many dishes. I can recall waiting on line at Chinese place for takeout and watching them use the same utensils to pack my order which had several different entrees. I also would see them use pans for different meals as well. This practice is not limited to Chinese restaurants of course, but they do have many dishes which use peanuts and tree nuts. (I avoid tree nuts as well)

Here's a sample from a local chinese place: Kung Pao Chicken: A Szechuan classic of diced chicken stir-fried with peanuts, red bell peppers and chili peppers.

Diced Chicken with Hot Pepper Sauce & Peanuts

Shredded Pork with Hot Pepper Sauce & Peanuts

Jumbo Shrimp with Hot Pepper Sauce Jumbo Shrimp Sauteed with Peanuts Bedded in Broccoli with Hot Pepper Sauce.

In my area there is a definate language barrier as well.

------------------ Ellen Allergic to Shellfish/ Mom to Jesse 9/01 who has PA

Sometimes I just want to say "blah blah blah blah blah."

On Feb 4, 2005

I just wanted to add this for those who might not find it in the Media folder:

Shot could have saved teen's life, doctor says 10:32 AM EST on Thursday, January 27, 2005


CONCORD, N.C. -- A teenage girl left behind the medicine that may have saved her life. Doctors say the girl suffered from an allergic reaction to an ingredient in Chinese food.

Gina Marie Hunt died Saturday after eating lunch at the Concord Mills food court.

The girl's family told a local newspaper that Hunt had severe allergic reactions to peanuts. She could not even be around people who ate peanut butter.

For full story/thread, go to:


On Feb 4, 2005

The reason we counseled our son to avoid all Chinese food is the number of ingredients in each dish. There are so many different things in each dish and so many different spices. PLUS there are often peanuts in their cooking, a good reason to need to avoid possible cross contamination.


On Feb 6, 2005

There is one Chinese restaurant that is VERY allergy aware. It is PF Changs. I am not sure if it is just in California. Their waiters are taught to ask at each table when they take the order if anyone is allergic. They do not use peanut oil at all. They only have peanuts in a couple of dishes, and they have special woks for pa people, woks that have never seen a peanut or a tree nut. They are also very allergy aware about other allergies. I have a very tight comfort zone with restuarants, and my 9 year old daughter just had her very first restaurant meal in her life! ( I am not counting a plate of fruit in a restaurant or a plate of french fries at the food court in the mall). She is also allergic to milk so that is why my comfort zone for restaurants is so tight. Anyhow, the managers at PF Changs are so allergy aware it is unbelievable. They totally understand cross contamination. The manager even told me that the woks for people with pa/tna are in a separate part of the kitchen, because otherwise food could splatter from one wok to the next. I was blown away.

On Feb 6, 2005


Originally posted by Carefulmom: [b]that they have very few dishes with peanuts[/b]


The manager even told me that the woks for people with pa/tna are in a separate part of the kitchen

What about the knifes & serving utensils? They also have a salad with peanuts on the Web site menu. What about the salad bowls?

It seems like a lot to keep separate.

While I commend the restaurant for such a thorough job, this is still not within my comfort zone.

I will teach my daughter to never eat Asian food. I'd rather her think all Chinese food has peanuts then have her try to figure out on her own, as a teenager, what is ok and what is not.

[This message has been edited by ElleMo (edited February 06, 2005).]

On Feb 7, 2005


Originally posted by ElleMo: [b] I will teach my daughter to never eat Asian food. I'd rather her think all Chinese food has peanuts then have her try to figure out on her own, as a teenager, what is ok and what is not.[/b]

I eat Asian food all the time. On the weekend, we had dinner at Prince Sushi restaurant (Hurontario and 401, Mississauga). And I have found several Chinese restaurants that are safe (for me.. I am only PA, not TNA).

One thing to remember... Western restauarts can be just as dangerous as Asian restaurants. A lot of western restaurants serve peanut butter sandwiches, or toast with peanut butter, etc.. and a knife used to slice a grilled cheese sandwich could have previously been used to slice a peanut butter sandwich. Dangerous.

My decision whether to eat in a restaurant is to ask questions and determine whether I consider it safe, and if I question it, to eat elsewhere.

Not all Chinese restaurants are safe.. just as not all western restaurants are safe. Just recently I saw an Italian restaurant that had peanut sauce as a pizza topping.

So you always have to be careful at all restaurants [img][/img]

On Feb 7, 2005


Originally posted by erik: [b] I eat Asian food all the time. [/b]

just be careful mister!

On Feb 7, 2005


Originally posted by momma2boys: [b] just be careful mister![/b]

yes.. I have been so careful, I am 39 now and never had a reaction at an Asian restaurant. [img][/img] hehe Although I don't eat at any restaurant if I have any doubts at all.

I am very careful at restaurants. [img][/img] I always ask. ask. ask. Always carry an epi-pen. And I am lucky I have some friends who speak Cantonese, which can make it much easier as well [img][/img]

Fortunately, some Chinese restaurants in Toronto do not use peanuts. They all use tree nuts, and cashews are quite common, although I am fortunate not to be TNA (although I don't eat tree nut dishes anyway). If I was TNA, it would be very difficult to find a safe Chinese restaurant.

p.s. I have found all Japanese restauarnts safe.. so far, I have never foudn a Japanese restaurant that uses peanuts

On Feb 8, 2005

YES we avoid Chinese. To risky and not worth it to Chris. He is fine without trying that. He loves seafood and gets plenty of that instead. One thing that always scares us with chinese is they don't understand half of what we say and pretend they do. Take care claire

On Feb 8, 2005

My daughter's very first violent reaction to ANYTHING was at 4 months old. I ate Chinese food on a Friday night and nursed her the following morning twice. By that afternoon she was vomiting violently with hives and eczema all over her body. It was the one and only time I ate Chinese food while nursing and it never happened again.

I will never take her to a Chinese restaurant and don't eat it in front of her either. We get take out occasionally (handful of times a year) and we ALWAYS eat it after she is in bed.

On Feb 8, 2005

yes, there can be a definite language barrier at times

as an example, when I was recently in Beijing, China, I only ate McDonald's and hotel food, as I was not able to communicate to any restaurant staff due to the language barrier so it was too risky to eat at any of the restaurants

however, I did eat frequently at restaurants in both Hong Kong and Singapore and had no problems finding safe places to eat

if you want to see a place with lots of peanuts, check out a Thai restaurant - I never eat in Thai restaurants as the majority of dishes contain peanuts or peanut sauce


Originally posted by Claire: [b] One thing that always scares us with chinese is they don't understand half of what we say and pretend they do. [/b]

umm .. ok .. I would have stated that as "One thing that always scares us with chinese restaurants is [b]that some of the staff[/b] don't understand half of what we say and pretend they do"

(some Chinese people actually do speak English)

On Feb 8, 2005


Originally posted by erik:

umm .. ok .. I would have stated that as "One thing that always scares us with chinese restaurants is that some of the staff don't understand half of what we say and pretend they do"

(some Chinese people actually do speak English)

I do have to agree with your post; however, language barriers do exist at many Chinese restaurants, as they do at many other ethnic restaurants. And comments about speaking English may not be as racist as they appear.

In my area (NJ/NY), most Chinese restaurants that aren't chains are owned, run, and/or primarily staffed by immigrants, so I do worry about communication issues. Larger restaurants are not as big a problem, there is always an American or bilingual chef or manager around; but smaller restaurants or take-out places may be entirely staffed on a particular night by immigrants who do not speak English well.

The main issue for me, however, is what is on the menu. In every menu that I have looked at recently, there is at least one entree, if not more, with peanuts. That is not within my comfort zone. I do not allow my daughter to eat at any restaurant that serves peanuts, peanut butter or most nuts, regardless of what language is spoken at the restaurant.

We also avoid Thai and Mexican food and most salad bars.

------------------ Ellen Allergic to Shellfish/ Mom to Jesse 9/01 who has PA

Sometimes I just want to say "blah blah blah blah blah."

[This message has been edited by ElleMo (edited February 09, 2005).]

On Feb 8, 2005

I think it is safe to assume that unless you live in an area where there are not a lot of immigrants, that there is going to be a language barrier. Here in California, a lot of kitchen workers are Hispanic, and may or may not speak very good English. I remember a visit to Applebees a couple of years back when the people next to use ordered a gluten free meal and the kitchen staff screwed it up, and the manager told the couple that he was having to train new people since INS had cleaned them out a couple of weeks ago!

On Feb 9, 2005

Boy, isn`t that the truth! I`m in California too. But at P.F. Changs it is an upscale chain of gourmet Chinese food, and I have never seen a waiter there whose native language is not English (they are all Anglo/caucasion/ or whatever the proper term is). I would not take dd to a mom and pop Chinese restaurant because of the language issue. But PF Changs is nothing like that.

My rule in restaurants is if someone has a thick accent, I just have to assume they don`t understand what I am saying. I cannot take the chance that they act like they understand and they really don`t. So if someone has a thick accent, we just move on to another restaurant.

On Feb 9, 2005

Haven't read the whole thread - will later.

However, Carefulmom, you make a good point. If someone has a heavy accent and it's quite obvious that they aren't going to understand your English and therefore your questions very well, we don't go.

In Stayner, it was a Mom and Pop Chinese Food restaurant and really they could not understand what we were asking.

I thought about this last week when DH and I went out and had lunch at a Lebanese restaurant. We both had Falafels. Now, I'm fairly sure that all of the food in the restaurant is PA safe and also, the particular one we went to (Jane and Bloor in Toronto), the people did speak very good English so I might (notice, might) take Jess there.

But the Lebanese restaurant at Yonge just south of Bloor, much heavier accent, basically the same menu, and no, I probably would not take Jesse there.

The same can be said for just a regular greasy spoon depending on how well the staff speak English. I've spent 6 years living in places that weren't terribly multi-cultural, but now that I'm back in "the big city", I know that although some opportunities will open up as far as restaurants (as erik has posted), some will also close if the people do not speak English well.

Oh, and another Lebanese restaurant Em and I went to. No way, no how, Jess would have gone in with me. Just off Yonge Street, just north of Dundas.

So, it's not just Chinese food, but could be all restaurants really.

Best wishes! [img][/img]

On Feb 10, 2005

Yes, we automatically avoid all Chinese and Thai restaurants. We are teaching our son that this is a reasonable limit since peanuts and nuts are so prevalent in these cuisines and cross-cantamination is likely. I love Chinese food but we have learned to buy frozen varieties from reputable companies that we trust labelling and I have learned to cook some so that I may satisfy my cravings. My brother goes to these restaurants with friends for special occasions but drinks only tea and water and eats before or after. He is not bothered by odours of nuts.

On Feb 10, 2005

Kathyrn, as I always tell you, great to see you! [img][/img]

Care to share some of those recipes? I have stir fried rice down okay and a meat stir fry, but that's about it.

I love Chinese Food. But if I recall, it was one of those things that you always felt empty after eating it a couple of hours later.

Best wishes! [img][/img]

On Feb 10, 2005

I won't go in any with our son!!!

On Feb 10, 2005

I am so glad this topic is being discussed!

Just a few days before the sad news about Gina's death was announced, my daughter was invited to a birthday party at at Chinese Restaurant. ALL OF HER CLOSEST GIRLFRIENDS ARE GOING. It is the first time this has happened.

We have never allowed her to eat from a Chinese, Indian, Thai etc establishment (PN/TN) (yes, land ike so many others it is mine and DH's secret date night haunts!)--but how should I respond to this situation?

Should I allow her to go and take her own food? Do I go in and bring the darn pan and cooking utentils? The kids really want to watch the chef do all the fancy stuff at the table--sort of like Benihana (sp?). The thought of her sitting at home on the night when all the others is out is so heartbreaking! Even if we were to take her out and try to make a special evening for her, I know she would be feeling so alone and rejected. Please Advise if you have faced a similar predicament! Susie

On Feb 10, 2005


I may be WAY off base here with this idea...but I'll give it a shot. Any chance you could show the article about Gina's death to the birthday girl's mom and see if they could change the restaurant? If these are her closest friends, maybe they just need to be reminded of its dangers to her?

If the restaurant has peanut products, I'd be scared for her to go, but we're just starting to venture out to restaurants any they all seem scary right now.

I'd also be a little concerned about if she safely eats at this one, will she let her guard down somewhere else?

Hopefully I'm making sense here [img][/img].


On Feb 11, 2005


Originally posted by Carefulmom: [b] My rule in restaurants is if someone has a thick accent, I just have to assume they don`t understand what I am saying. I cannot take the chance that they act like they understand and they really don`t. So if someone has a thick accent, we just move on to another restaurant.[/b]

My grandmother, who is Japanese, has lived in the US for 56 years, and speaks (and understands) English fluently. However, she does have a heavy accent.

Most people who learn a second language as an adult end up speaking with a heavy accent. It's not something that is easy to "unlearn".

Just because someone can't make the language "sound" the right way doesn't mean that they don't understand it.

On Feb 13, 2005

That is definitely true. On the other hand, if I don`t know the person, and my child`s life depends on knowing if they understand what I am saying, I of course will not take the chance. Better to be safe than in the ICU.

On Mar 2, 2005

The points that I'm trying to make, unsucessfully so far, are that a) Don't assume that because someone has a heavy accent that they don't understand and b) don't assume that since your server speaks English, that the kitchen staff will understand. I live in an area with a lot of restaurants, and I've noticed that many of the line chefs are immigrants from Central America.

On Mar 3, 2005


Originally posted by solarflare: [b]The points that I'm trying to make, unsucessfully so far, are that a) Don't assume that because someone has a heavy accent that they don't understand and b) don't assume that since your server speaks English, that the kitchen staff will understand. [/b]

I think "accent" is the wrong word to use. I think you need to pay attention to the what & how the waitstaff/kitchen staff is saying things, basically their overall communication ability. "I have spoken to the chef and we don't use peanuts here" would make me feel more confortable, regardless of accent, then "no peanuts here."

The first statement would definately make me more comfortable than the native speaker who told me they use "granola" oil.

------------------ Ellen Allergic to Shellfish/ Mom to Jesse 9/01 who has PA

Sometimes I just want to say "blah blah blah blah blah."

On Mar 3, 2005

Okay, I just wanted to be clear, as I'm sure some other people are feeling as well. I think I said when I was dealing with a person with a heavy accent who very obviously could not understand English well, I was not comfortable having my son eat in the establishment.

This is not a racist statement at all. If I said that I wouldn't go to any establishment simply because the person was an immigrant with a heavy accent, then that is racist (and I think that has been said in this thread actually by one person). What I think, again, I clearly said, was if it was obvious that the person could NOT understand English well.

And, as we discovered in our conversation re Chinese food restaurants, this doesn't simply pertain to Oriental restaurants, but as I pointed out, even Lebanese (Middle Eastern) ones.

Or as others have pointed out, perhaps Mexican establishments where the staff do not speak English and we don't speak Spanish.

As an extension of this, understanding that *most* people in the Province of Quebec are bilingual, but tend to speak French first, I would be hard pressed, since I don't speak French, to feel comfortable traveling through Quebec and eating in any restaurants there unless my sister (who is bi-lingual and lives in Montreal) was with me or unless I had a person I felt was able to speak English well enough to answer my questions sufficiently.

Again, this can be said of ANY language that is not our "native" tongue and I don't think people were saying that as soon as they heard a "heavy accent" they avoided the food. I think they were saying what I said, if there was a heavy accent involved along with a clear NOT understanding of English, then the restaurant was not okay to go into.

Since posting about the Lebanese restaurants I've gone to since my return to Toronto, I've actually taken both children into the one at Jane and Bloor and would have felt quite comfortable letting both children eat there - try getting Jess to eat a falafel though [img][/img]

But also, DH and I, with both children, went into another Lebanese restaurant right on Yonge Street, and again, I would not have let the children eat there, or Jesse at least.

I am sure this can also happen in Italian, Greek, Polish, etc. restaurants. And I really do think one gets the sense whether another person understands English well enough to understand what you're asking them.

I don't write people off because English is not their first language. But I will write the restaurant off if it is clear that their understanding of English, especially when it comes to questions regarding food and peanuts, is not what I need/want/expect.

Heck, that can be said for regular greasy spoons and English speaking people not truly understanding your questioning.

I just felt the need to come back and post this because I felt as though one member thought we were being racist because we had said "heavy accent", but I am positive, except with regard to one post, that that is not the case. It is a combination of factors which leads us to choose whether or not to eat at an ethnic establishment.

The neighbourhood I live in right now is Eastern European mostly - a lot of Polish, but then a lot of other recent immigrants. Even in walking the dog, it is quite clear to me whether people understand English or not.

Now, it would be great to be able to do a lot of ethnic cuisine at home, IMHO, and this eliminates any risk, KWIM?

California Mom and erik, love your answers and they do give me some hope, but obviously I haven't run out to find a Chinese food restaurant yet! [img][/img] I've stuck with chain restaurants so far - Swiss Chalet (oh, yes, Momma Bear just thought of you now [img][/img] ), McDonald's, Harvey's, a greasy spoon down the street from me for fries only for the kids, and several different Lebanese, but so far, for DH and I only, although the children were with us.

Can I tell a story about my falafel obsession?

So, moved out of Toronto six years ago. Lived three years without a falafel in sight. Moved to Belleville and the first night I was there, I found a falafel place. I thought, great! They were really allergy aware (the hummus - pre-made said "may contain"), but honestly, they made the worst falafels on the face of the earth. I mean, not traditional falafels. I enjoyed them, but they weren't the real thing.

Got back to Toronto and could hardly wait to have one, although I think it was a few months before I did. Was going to one area of the city on a regular basis and I would go into McDonald's and get a Big X-tra. Then, I remembered, holy cow, there is one of the best, IMHO, falafel places a few blocks west. What the heck am I doing in McDonald's when I could be having a falafel?

To me, that is my treat, my enjoyment. And I haven't had a lousy one upon my return and I've gone to a few places now. I am most pleased. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]

On Mar 3, 2005


Originally posted by ElleMo: [b] The first statement would definately make me more comfortable than the native speaker who told me they use "granola" oil.


Ha! That really made me laugh! I asked a waitress once about how the French fries were prepared. She came back from the kitchen and told me they are fried in "low fat sesame oil."

I tried to tell her this was impossible--there's no such thing as low fat oil. And who fries in sesame oil? She got extremely huffy even though I was being quite good-natured about it. She insisted that is exactly what the head cook told her. I'm pretty sure it was soybean oil, but oh well, we just didn't eat the fries.

And they were all Americans in the restaurant. Except for my immigrant husband, with a HEAVY accent, who was trying to explain food allergies to them!!

I understood what everyone meant in this thread about restaurant workers with accents--I didn't get offended. You can tell by the way the waitstaff responds whether or not they are truly fluent, whether communication is possible, and whether they're "getting it."

And solarflare made a good point--even if your waitress understands perfectly, it doesn't necessarily mean the cooks in the back will understand her.

(Good info earlier in the thread about PF Chang's. I never heard of that restaurant. I'd love to try it sometime)

On Mar 3, 2005


Originally posted by Sandra Y: [b]And they were all Americans in the restaurant. Except for my immigrant husband, with a HEAVY accent, who was trying to explain food allergies to them!!


good point.

My dear father's "accent" made some of his speech virtually unintelligible to many persons.

That said, [i]I always understood him[/i].

*the first time*.

Despite his "accent", he could read and write several languages as if they were his native tongue. [img][/img]

He was strikingly intelligent. A solution finder. Insightful.

I guess my point is that I never assume [i]just because [b]I[/b] *can't* understand someone, *they* don't understand[/i]. Maybe it's I that doesn't understand *them*. [img][/img] As long as we are discussing "obvious" lack of understanding. But yeah, if *I* lack understanding of *them*, then of course, I'm not going to *trust* the situation. I mean,

[b]I don't necessarily trust persons who say the [i]right[/i] things anyway.[/b]

My father's employer had a life threatening food allergy to many seafoods. He *insisted* [b]my father prepare[/b] his food for him. But then again, [i]they both spoke Greek[/i]. among some other languages.

and, maybe less importantly, *English*. (I mean, they were both *Greek*.)

But of course, that in itself poses the very problem being discussed here, does it not? Maybe it's me, I could be way off.

Also noting, that not only did my father verbally communicate a detailed understanding of my cubs allergies *to me*, [b]he also demonstrated it[/b]. Many of time, he tightened things up a bit. Reminded us in those early years what wasn't a *good idea*. Shared his knowledge and experience as a chef and a parent. KWIM?

"heavy", "thick", "accent", and all. I mean, what determines what is an "obvious" lack of understanding anyway?

General Disclaimer: I am not offering advice in any manner or form. Just describing my own personal, highly individual, and unique situation.

On Mar 3, 2005

May I simply say that despite the title of this thread (and the answers received to go with the initial question), I think the discussion in this thread has been quite lovely, for lack of a better word.

To me, the clarity came with my last post, but was further enhanced by people posting after me.

Even if you are dealing with English speaking people (and you, yourself are English), I think one can get a sense if the person you are posing the questions to really understands what you're saying.

So, as I said earlier, it doesn't really matter if the person is Chinese, Spanish, Italian or English, if the understanding of the questions that you need answered to feel comfortable to eat food in a restaurant is not there, it's not there, regardless of the language spoken.

We have had detailed discussions with the people working in the Polish bakery re how PA safe they are and we got answers that we felt comfortable with. We have yet to embark on the same series of questions with the Polish take-out deli, where we have found the most exquisite chicken schitznel (?).

I have most certainly had my questions answered well by people who do not speak English as their first language, just as I have NOT had my questions answered well by someone who does speak English as their first language.

I had initially raised this question because I was hoping now that I have returned to a city where there are "chain" Chinese food restaurants, we *may* be able to try them. It was simply something when I was in Stayner that I was not comfortable doing and it was because of the inability of the people running the restaurant not being able to answer my questions.

After living there, and reading what I read most people here do, I never even ventured to try in my last town.

erik, do we have P.F. Chang's in Toronto? Sounds as though I could get some recommendations from you regardless. Do you know anything about The Mandarin chain? I have one of their restaurants close to me.

But again, an enlightening discussion, which I very much appreciated, thank-you. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]

On Mar 3, 2005

Elle Mo, is it okay for me to say that I got quite a chuckle out of the "granola oil" response?

Sometimes little chuckles can get one through difficult days. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]

On Mar 10, 2005

My allergist made me promise to never eat in an asian restaurant. He told me that it would be foolish to do so, as the risk of cross contamination is so high. True, you have to be careful in every restaurant, but why go somewhere where your chances of being exposed are so much greater?

My doctor had a patient once who ignored his wishes and ate frequently at an asian restaurant. She was fine every time. One time (the last time) she had a reaction. She took her epipen and decided to jog thinking the medication would get into her sooner. Instead, the jogging sped up the anaphylactic shock and she died. After being told that everything was fine. And this from a restaurant she had eaten at numerous times. I miss chinese food so much, but unless there wasn't a peanut on the premises, I wouldn't do it.

On Mar 10, 2005


Originally posted by Yankee: [b]I miss chinese food so much, but unless there wasn't a peanut on the premises, I wouldn't do it. [/b]

Hi Yankee,

Do you eat at non-Chinese restaurants that have peanuts on the premises? If yes, how do you keep safe in these places?

I'm just thinking of this, as I was at an Italian restaurant the other day that has a pasta with peanuts in it (clearly labelled on the menu).

On Mar 10, 2005

erik, where have you been? I have missed you this week! [img][/img]

Wouldn't it be fairly safe to say that eating in Asian restaurants is a higher risk than eating at other restaurants where peanuts are not part of a lot of the dishes on the menu? I think that's basically Yankee's point (although I am not speaking on his/her behalf).

Is Thai food considered Asian? I mean, I don't think ANY of us are stepping into a Thai restaurant in this lifetime.

For me, I'd really have to go with DH and check it out during the day, without the kids, to see how it was.

I remember having a discussion with one of the Mandarin chain restaurants when Jesse was first diagnosed (meaning I really knew nothing) and we did order the food in.

I wouldn't want to take a senseless chance with Jess though if it simply meant him trying another ethnic cuisine.

And erik, you must admit that peanuts in Italian cuisine is fairly rare, perhaps even a *trendy* thing, and certainly not traditional as it would be with Chinese food?

Any restaurant we step into may very likely have a peanut product on the menu (I mean that greasy spoon does have pb to spread on the toast with your breakfast), but again, the chances.

This raises another question for me - do most of us stick to fast food/chain restaurants rather than regular restaurants? In thinking of my experience (which has not been extensive), I would have to say, yes, I do stick to chains/fast food.

Best wishes! [img][/img]

On Mar 12, 2005


Originally posted by Cindy Spowart Cook: [b]erik, where have you been? I have missed you this week! [img][/img][/b]

Very busy lately so not much time for PA.COM ..I have missed a lot of posts.. too many to read [img][/img]


Originally posted by Cindy Spowart Cook: [b]Wouldn't it be fairly safe to say that eating in Asian restaurants is a higher risk than eating at other restaurants where peanuts are not part of a lot of the dishes on the menu? [/b]

Yes, in general it is true. But my point is that just because you have a peanut alleegy, it doesn't mean you can never eat in an Asian restaurant. And just because it is a Western restaurant does not mean it is safe. I ate at Prince Sushi last week and they do not use peanuts at all, while when I was at the Bay cafeteria, they had a big bowl of peanut butter in the grill area for making peanut butter sandwiches (so some Asian restaurants can be safer than some Western restaurants)


Originally posted by Cindy Spowart Cook: [b]Is Thai food considered Asian? I mean, I don't think ANY of us are stepping into a Thai restaurant in this lifetime.[/b]

Yes, Thai food is Asian. And I never eat at Thai restaurants as they use lots of peanuts.


Originally posted by Cindy Spowart Cook: [b]I wouldn't want to take a senseless chance with Jess though if it simply meant him trying another ethnic cuisine.[/b]

You don't have to take a senseless chance. Just do the same as you would at any other restaurat. Ask questions, and if you are not satisfied, don't eat there. It doesn't matter whether it is an Asian restaurant or a Western restaurant, we always have to ask the same set of questions and if we're not satisfied, we walk away.


Originally posted by Cindy Spowart Cook: [b]And erik, you must admit that peanuts in Italian cuisine is fairly rare, perhaps even a *trendy* thing, and certainly not traditional as it would be with Chinese food?[/b]

Yes.. it is rare... but I have found that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are not made in Asian restaurants, but thye are quite common in Western restaurants (rish of cross contamination with knife used to cut the ssandwich, cutting board, etc). So we always have to keep our guard no matter where we eat.

But yes... Italian food is probably the safest type of food we can eat, as peanuts are very rarely used (although pine nuts are common as they are the main ingredient in pesto) ***********************

So in summary, I do agree that many Asian restaurants are risky and not to be eaten at... my only point is just beacuse you have PA does not mean you can never eat in an Asian restaurant, and just because it is a Western restaurant does not guarantee that it is safer than an Asian restaurant. [img][/img]

On Mar 12, 2005

erik, an excellent point that I now very clearly understand. Thank-you for taking the time to go through it point-by-point with me. I really appreciate it.

Now, I need a Chinese Food restaurant recommendation from you - downtown would be fine. [img][/img] I won't even run off to grab a falafel while I'm downtown if I could eat Chinese Food again! [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]

On Mar 17, 2005

After reading some of the posts i am just now learning that they sometimes use pb to seal the egg rolls. I did know that some restaurants use peanut oil though. I always find at least one person at the restaurant that speaks english well enough to find out what kind of oil it is. Most places where i live use vegetable oil. I have found a place that i can go to that i dont have much of a reaction to their food. I try to avoid dishes with sesame seeds too, i think that i some times have a reaction to them as well and peanuts. Just have to be careful no matter what restaurant you go to.

On Apr 26, 2005

I've just found out that Blue Ginger (owner Ming Tsai, from t.v. show Simply Ming) in Wellesley, MA is EXTREMELY aware. Ming's son is PA (and more) They have very strict procedures regarding the one dish that contains peanuts. The manager explained how peanuts are only used at one wok station, and how the wok is cleaned before cooking for someone with an allergy. HE told me about how they avoid cross-contamination, etc. Apparently, they are quite well known for dealing with food allergies. We'll give them a try and report back....however, the menu is more East Meets West (fusion) you can check them out at [url=""][/url] and BTW, the 'thai dipping sauce' has nothing to do with peanuts.

On Apr 26, 2005

hiya - great thread! I'm going to check out the policies of the PF Chang's in my area (Tucson, AZ) and see if they have the same guidelines.

I've never eaten at a chinese, indian, thai, or pacific rim restaurant. It's just not in my comfort zone due to cross contamination.

However, I routinely eat at Japanese places, but I do call and ask about their ingredients. Usually these are sushi and teppanaki places. Bennihana's (the ones I've eaten at) do not use peanut oil or ANY nuts for that matter. I was so impressed! I could eat ANYTHING off the menu! (This was in Atlanta, GA and in Boston, MA).

I've bought a good indian cookbook, chinese cookbook, and pacific rim cookbook, as, I do like those styles of food. I modify recipes using canola oil to fry and completely know the rest of the ingredients are fresh and of my nuts or peanuts!

Adrienne :-)

------------------ 30-year old survivor of sever peanut/tree nut allergy

On Apr 26, 2005

Melrose Mum - Thanks so much for the info about Blue Ginger. Never thought I could go there with my son - so this is great news. Thanks for posting.

On Apr 26, 2005

The one cuisine that I do really miss is Thai. We've found a Vietnamese noodle house that is safe enough for Jason, but Thai is impossible. I have to settle for making Pad Thai at home with a fish sauce base rather than a peanut base (I prefer it that way anyway).

I didn't know that Ming Tsai had a son with food allergies. I watched his show on Food Network a lot when it was still airing.. my local PBS affliates don't carry Simply Ming. [img][/img]

On Apr 26, 2005

I miss Asian food. i cook it at home but it is not the same. I love Ming Tsai! (sorry about the spelling!)

On May 1, 2005

I do routinely avoid Chinese Restaurants because I have recently begun to react to the food. I was already aware that egg rolls are definitely a NO-NO. We have a Chinese place that does not use peanut oil when they stir fry, and are well aware of my allergy. THat is the only place I will eat Chinese food b/c I have NEVER had a reaction. One dr. said to eat at only one chinese rest. Another one said to avoid it altogether and not to eat ANY nuts. (I have regularly been okay with pecans and walnuts, but I am careful what brand I eat.)