Category: Restaurant Reviews

The drama of being a celiac academic in Asia

As a junior academic, when you attend conferences, there’s already loads of anxiety-inducing stuff to manage. I’m still awfully nervous about presenting my work in front of a room full of experts in their fields and between the public speaking and the usual dramas of imposter syndrome, I’m always a bundle of nerves. As a celiac, if your conference is somewhere in Asia, this then adds the issues of
1. What will I eat?
2. How much it sucks at conference meals to have to explain to a whole table why you are not eating or getting a plate of steamed vegetables that normally resembles baby food
3. Constantly having to explain why you aren’t trying the cakes at morning tea
4. Dealing with the ‘look’ – you know this one..where wait staff, restaurant managers and conference coordinators get glazed eyes from listening to your plea for some sort of GF food

With my first conference in Hyderabad, where all academics lived and ate on campus, I carried protein shakes and GF bars. Lucky too as the kitchen was a cloud of flour at every meal time. I survived this mostly on afore mentioned protein shakes and chai, but was lucky to have a family friend living in the city who organised GF Hyderabady cuisine at a few restaurants. I’ve been back a few times and my staple list includes:
1. The Radisson Blu where the GM is a friend and all the chefs now totally get my gluten-free needs
2. The Taj Faluknuma Palace – Adaa for amazing Hyderabad cuisine
3. The Olive Bistro
4. Vivanta Taj – Thai Pavillion where the Thai chef made me Amazing adaptations of Thai dishes
5. ITC – for the gluten free Dum biryani

In September, I had a conference in Phuket. I contacted conference organisers, the hotel the conference was at and was hoping it would be easier as so much Thai food is naturally gluten free. Sadly, despite this, it was awful. I received the look at every meal and felt like a total neurotic freak every time I had to explain why I wasn’t eating, why I couldn’t drink beer etc etc etc

Luckily, the GM friend at the Radisson called his counterpart at the Radisson Blu Phuket and I had an amazing dinner plus some take out to last me the rest of the conference.



I’m not sure what the solution is but at least I now have a few places to eat at in these cities. I wonder if anyone else in different fields encounters these problems?

Kiss kiss


Juki Korean BBQ (Berlin, Germany) $$ 18/20

Juki is a Korean BBQ joint on a famous street in Prenzlaurberg district in Berlin.

The service here was fantastic. They really prepared for our meal here and ensured that they took every measure possible to keep my food allergy-free. My husband had called them to reserve the restaurant and he said that they were super responsive and helpful. They are really well-educated about food allergies (particularly gluten). For instance, they will tell the cooks to clean a separate area and wash all utensils before starting on your food. They will defrost and marinate special meat for you (if that is what you ordered). The chef came out of the kitchen and spent about 30 minutes with us, explaining each item on the meal and how it could (or could not) be modified for gluten and dairy intolerance.

I had the shrimp dumplings as starters. Simple and delicious. I ordered a beef hot plate and my husband the bibimbap. You’ll get your own BBQ hot plate if you request it gluten-free. My husband’s cousin, who arrived late to the restaurant, ate our completely gluten-free meal without noticing a thing. There are a bunch of side dishes that they serve that are completely gluten-free and refillable. They even have GF mochi for dessert.

The food was very good. Light, delicious,not overcooked. Meats were fresh. There is a 1 Euro surcharge for GF preparation (totally worth it).

Throughout the meal, the servers were attentive to us. I have never *ever* been to a restaurant that took customer service and allergy accommodation so seriously. Their food is above par but where they really excel is customer attention. Juki raises the bar and sets a new standard.

I, for one, will be back here, without so much as a second thought.

Juki Korean BBQ and Soju Bar

Lychener Stra├če 13, 10437 Berlin, Germany; Phone:+49 30 44324636

Here is a link to their TripAdvisor site.
  • Allergy friendly: *****
  • Taste: ****
  • Atmosphere: *** Casual and laid back. Pretty standard Asian restaurant.
  • Service: *****
  • Cost: $$ – Mains range between 10-15 Euros (food is cheap in Germany!)