UPDATE February 2008 - after a brief closure, GourmetLand is back with a full and expanded gluten-free menu. And for even more GF Chinese food in Manhattan - try Lilli and Loo - it is fantastic.
On Saturday night I told a married man “I love you!” No, I’m not cultivating a new identity as a home-wrecker. I just couldn’t contain my joy when I learned of all the accommodations Eric, the manager of a new Chinese food restaurant, is making for gluten free customers.
I saw a single posting on the Celiac listserv a couple of weeks ago mentioning “GourmetLand’s gluten free Chinese food on the Upper East Side.” What? How could I not know about this? It can’t be. There must be some sort of mistake. Well, I decided to do some research and came across this menu online. Hmmm, no mention of the GFRAP or cross-contamination issues. I still had my doubts, but decided to check it out with my lovely friend Emily. I figured worst-case scenario, I could head to one of the other gluten free restaurants in the neighborhood.
When we arrived at GourmetLand, we found a small upscale restaurant with a beautiful bar and affordable prices. I asked the hostess about their gluten free menu and she responded “Oh, I’ll let you talk to the manager, he’s really into the whole gluten free thing.” Hmmm, that’s a good sign. Eric, the manager came over to our table. I asked him about the gluten free menu and how they prevented cross-contamination with all of the other gluten containing foods in the kitchen. (Chinese food restaurants are usually quite difficult because they use the same woks repeatedly) He said “Oh, we have a whole section of the kitchen just for gluten free dishes. In fact, next week we will be getting a whole new menu offering a much wider range of appetizers, side dishes and main courses. I am also working with a pastry chef to get some more gluten free desserts on the menu. He’s just working to get certified with the proper Celiac groups.”
It was at that point that I burst out with my declaration of love and asked Eric how he became acquainted with gluten free diners’ needs. Eric and his wife have a dear friend who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease last year. He told me that they would cook at their house and have a separate set of dishes for their friend. When they decided to open GourmetLand they included six gluten free main courses. I was also informed that I could order any of the veggie dishes and the Chicken Lettuce wraps “gluten free.” Oh my! The only problem then became how to make a choice.
Emily and I shared the Chicken Lettuce Wrap appetizer with gluten free sauce.
After much debate, I selected the Mandarin Shrimp for my main course. I loved the sauce and the extra water chestnuts.
Emily and I shared the Sichuan Asparagus – hot and spicy but oh so good.
I can’t wait to go back once the full gluten free menu is available. Oh, and even better news for me – I live in their delivery zone! I didn’t think I would ever see the day that I could have gluten free Chinese Food delivered to my door. While we didn't get to sample the entire menu, the breaded (with cornstarch) Cheng Du Chicken was highly recommended. They serve Redbridge gluten free beer (Bard's Tale and more are on the way), potato vodka, and for dessert they have a rich chocolate gluten free brownie.
Now if YOU want to declare your love to a married man and enjoy dinner with other gluten free friends, support GourmetLand with the NY Celiac Meetup group on March 28th. Sadly I won’t be able to make it, but I will be there in spirit!
UPDATE June 2007: I have Gourmet Land's new gluten free menu sitting in front of me. It is too good to be true. Almost the entire menu can now be made gluten free! There are 14 appetizers and salads including egg rolls, ginger spare ribs and warm duck salad; 15 seafood, beef, pork and chicken dishes including Orange Beef, Chinese BBQ Pork and Devilish Calamari; 10 vegetable, tofu, rice and noodle dishes including Singapore Noodles, Chow Fun and Tam Noodles; 4 desserts including a chocolate tort, chocolate truffle and mango sorbet; and Redbridge Beer and 2 potato vodkas! Book your plane ticket to NY now or if you are lucky enough to live in NY, go eat some gluten free Chinese food!
Gourmet Land 1588 2nd Ave, New York 10028 Btwn 82nd & 83rd St Phone: 212-772-8700