So You Thought Sushi Was Safe? As in Gluten Free.

So You Thought Sushi Was Safe? As in Gluten Free.

Do you love sushi? I love it, it used to be my ‘go to’ lunch when I was out and about, until I looked more closely to see if it is actually gluten free.

What do you do if you are gluten free and want to dine out for sushi?

Sushi restaurants can be a mixed bag and often there is a language barrier when you try to explain the precautions you need to the sushi chef. Good sushi restaurants are usually busy, making it hard for them to take the necessary precautions to prevent cross contamination.

If the sushi restaurant you want to go to can’t follow the below precautions to keep you safe, you are taking a risk of being “glutened.” I like to call the sushi restaurant ahead of time to ask if they can take the precautions I need before I arrive. This way if they are unable to take these steps, I know not to waste my time driving there.

Here are my Top 7 Tips to help you navigate your way to a gluten free, safe sushi dining experience.


  • I am going to start with the easiest tip first . Make sure the restaurant has Tamari, a gluten free soy sauce. If the restaurant doesn’t have any, you can order these cute little packets by Asahi that you can take with you discreetly so you can enjoy your sushi. I keep a couple in my purse for those just in case moments. Our family uses this brand because the little plastic packets are strong, so there is no tamari explosion in your purse!
  • DO NOT EAT IMITATION CRAB!! Imitation crab contains wheat, and it is not safe to eat if you are gluten free. Many sushi restaurants have real crab and it is worth getting this as a substitute. (It tastes a lot better as well!) If the restaurant doesn’t have real crab, stick to tuna and other real fish.
  • Ask the waitperson or sushi chef directly to use a fresh, clean sushi mat. This is critical. Sushi chefs roll a lot of sushi with fried items, such as soft shell crab and tempura, in the roll. You don’t want any particles of the fried gluten getting into your sushi roll.
  • If possible, ask the sushi chef to change his gloves, it helps if you explain that you need it to be gluten free.
  • Make sure the sushi chef uses a clean cutting board and knife to cut your sushi. Again, the sushi chef cuts a lot of different sushi rolls and the risk of cross contamination is high.
  • Do not include any sauces on top of, or in, your sushi rolls unless your waitperson checks the ingredients. Many of the sauces like ponzu and nikiri contain soy sauce, which means gluten exposure. When in doubt, just skip the sauces.
  • Order your sushi so it is made to order for you. If you go to a Sushi Train style sushi restaurant, plates of sushi float around on those little boats and is mass produced. The sushi chefs do not take any precautions when making this sushi. You also have no control if a customer grabs a plate of sushi, decides that is not what they wanted, and put it back on the floating boats.


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