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Coeliac/Celiac/Gluten Free Asia

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by cityfree, Feb 22, 2018.

  1. cityfree

    cityfree New commenter

    Hi all,

    Later this year, I shall be applying for my next contract. Currently, I am trying to decide between focusing on Europe or remaining in Asia.

    My main concern (other than a nice place to work, decent salary etc.) is how easy it is to live without gluten in different cities. I have Coeliac Disease, so it is not a choice (I would eat ALL of the food if I could).

    What do people know about the offers in the supermarkets and restaurants in different cities? I am open to hear about any big city in Asia, but the following are my top interests:
    - Singapore
    - Bangkok
    - KL
    - Shanghai

  2. schmedz

    schmedz Occasional commenter

    There are limited gluten-free options in supermarkets (usually more upmarket ones) in Bangkok, and there is of course, lots of rice and rice noodles! Villa Market has the best range (usually imported from the US or Australia) so it's significantly more expensive to buy than in the UK.

    Eating out can be challenging with all the sauces used but one of my colleagues with Coeliac manages by choosing a lot of vegan food / salads etc...

    In some places it is hard to communicate your needs without a Thai speaker - our school cafeteria could not understand why vegetarians were upset at being served vegetables in oyster sauce!! There have been many puzzled looks when I've used google translate to try to explain 'gluten-free'!!
    cityfree likes this.
  3. StrangePanda

    StrangePanda Occasional commenter

    Pretty easy in HK. Are you in China at the moment?
    cityfree likes this.
  4. cityfree

    cityfree New commenter

    Used to be in China. Currently elsewhere, but I was going to edit and add HK. It's good to know that it's okay there. Thanks.
  5. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Forget Shanghai
  6. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Should be OK in Malaysia, especially with English widely spoken, but of course they don't have legislation forcing clarity on their menus like in the UK. Nonetheless, if you cook from fresh, you'd be fine and there are plenty of places now that do offer 'gluten free' (it's rather trendy now) though not being coeliac, you'd have to get others' opinions on how reliable that is.
  7. cityfree

    cityfree New commenter

    True. I've never found anywhere as reliable as Western Europe, particularly the UK. Things were starting to improve in China a few years back, but in most places in Asia it is the understanding of cross-contamination that bites. I tend to take translations of coeliac cards with me, but these only get one so far!
  8. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    I'd say that KL is about as good as you're likely to get in SE Asia - English is widely spoken so you've got more chance of being able to explain what you need, though it's not understood by everyone, and there are restaurants which specify GF dishes (although how much attention they pay to cross contamination, I don't know). You can also get GF food in many supermarkets. If you haven't already, I'd recommend looking for Facebook groups for GF eaters in the places you're interested in - they'll be able to tell you exactly how it is.

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