Lantern: A Light on the Hill

Where: Lantern, 423 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Lantern, located in Chapel Hill, NC, is one of Gourmet America’s Top 50 Restaurants. Chef-owner Andrea Reusing was the 2011 James Beard award winner for Best Chef in the Southeast, has given a TedX talk on collaborating with small farms, and has written a new cookbook called Cooking in the Moment: a Year of Seasonal Recipes.

GF Menu: No. However, the menu instructs, “Please let us know about any food allergies.”

What we ate: Local heirloom tomato salad and spicy carrot soup for appetizers, Flounder and Salmon for entrees, and Panna Cotta for dessert.

How to order it: Lantern is famous for fusing Asian flavors with North Carolina ingredients. The Lantern menu does an excellent job of listing ingredients, but since it is not marked specifically for food allergies, let your server know that you will be dining Gluten-Free, and ask for their recommendations.

Our server checked with the kitchen and marked our paper menu with all Gluten-Free options, acknowledging when and if soy sauce was used in a dish, to alleviate concerns we might have had about sauces. We had more than a dozen choices.

What it looks like:

LanternHeirloomTomThis appetizer was art on a plate. Local heirloom tomatoes were drizzled with fine olive oil, then topped with shiso leaf, shallots, sea salt, and freshly-ground black pepper.

LanternSoup3This summer carrot soup was served chilled, but it was warm with the exotic flavors of vadouvan curry.

LanternFlounder2The server asked whether I was comfortable with the whole fish being presented on the plate, and explained that some customers will request that the head be removed. Fresh and crispy NC flounder was served in the style of a Vietnamese fish dish.

LanternFlounder3Here’s the closeup of the fish. On top of the tender white meat and delicately fried fish skin were hot chiles, fresh turmeric, dill, fried shallots, the occasional cilantro leaf, and roasted peanuts. This is one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten, and according to our server, it is their most popular.

LanternPickledCarrotsThe flounder came with a side of spicy heirloom carrot salad and a scoop of warm jasmine rice.

LanternSalmonThe steamed wild King salmon was served with house-pickled ginger, lemongrass, red onion, cucumber-mint salad, and a side of warm coconut jasmine rice.


There were two gluten-free dessert options the night we visited. I was delighted with our choice of the cherry stone panna cotta. A cool and impossibly delicate panna cotta was garnished with Blue Ridge Mountain cherries and crunchy almond-sesame candy. Warning: you will not want to share this, so go ahead and get your own.

Green Note: Chef Andrea Reusing is a local luminary and a national leader in culinary sustainability.

From writing about “Egg Economics” in Gourmet magazine to organizing tours of a pollinator garden in Chatham Mills, NC, to hosting Farm-to-Table dinners to benefit Kitchen Patrol, her mission is clear. She aims to use locally-sourced ingredients from small organic farms and build community, all while educating others about sustainability. She also chairs the Triangle’s Slow Food convivium. These are just some of the reasons Chef Andrea was named one of “15 Green Chefs” on Grist’s international list.

Lantern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Sake House: Sushi & Sashimi Lunch Combo

Where: Sake House Japanese Grill and Fusion Sushi, 1141 Falls River Avenue, Suite #128, Raleigh, NC 27614

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: Sushi and Sashimi Combo from the Lunch Menu + Hot Green Tea

How to order it: When enjoying Japanese food, GF diners should be careful about Soy Sauce. Many entrees are either sauteed in soy sauce or it is served for dipping. Wheat is usually listed as the second or third ingredient in commercial soy sauce.

I asked the server about the soy sauce on our table at Sake House, and he confirmed that it contained wheat. Fortunately, I had brought my own packets of San-J Wheat-Free Organic Tamari Soy Sauce. You can find this brand at Whole Foods and other local health food stores.

A note of caution about miso soup and salad dressings: Some miso soups, but not all, are made with a broth that contains barley or soy sauce. Some traditional ginger/citrus salad dressings may also contain soy sauce.

What it looks like:

On this plate:


  • salmon (shake)
  • tuna (maguro)
  • and white fish (shiromi)


  • tuna rolls (small cuts of tuna pressed in sushi rice and wrapped in nori)


  • tuna
  • salmon
  • cooked shrimp (ebi) sushi

+ wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and slices of pickled ginger

I sat at the sushi bar and watched the chef prepare and artfully arrange this platter. Here was a delightful sampler that Gluten-Free diners can safely enjoy. Since we have to avoid things like crab (imitation crabsticks are often made with wheat starch), tamago (cooked egg often contains soy sauce), and tempura rolls (batter may contain wheat), I was happy to dine on this fresh fish-focused selection.

Green Note: Sake House’s entire Japanese Lunch and Dinner menu, including sakes, beers, and wines, is available for easy Online Order for takeout.

Sake House on Urbanspoon

Grand Asia Buffet: All-You-Can-Eat Sushi & More! (Now CLOSED)

June 2013 Update: Since the time of this posting, this restaurant has closed. I will, however, keep this post active since it describes how to avoid gluten at an Asian restaurant. All-You-Can-Eat Sushi is a rare find, but if anyone can recommend another sushi buffet in the Triangle Area, please feel free to pass it along to the rest of us!

Also, I continue to carry individual packets of San-J Wheat-Free Organic Tamari Soy Sauce (ordered from Amazon) in my purse and have found them handy not only when having sushi, but when dining on other gluten-free items that could use a little extra quick-fix umami-ness.

Where: Grand Asia Buffet, 7371 Six Forks Rd., Raleigh, NC 27615

GF Menu: No.

What I ate: All-You-Can-Eat Lunch Buffet

How to order it: Let the server know what you would like to drink. Visit the buffet in the middle of the restaurant.

When enjoying Asian food, GF diners should be careful about Soy Sauce. Many entrees are sauteed in soy sauce or soy sauce is served for dipping. If you read the label on soy sauce, wheat is usually listed as the second or third ingredient. The bottled soy sauce on the tables at Grand Asia contained wheat at the time of this posting. Fortunately, I had brought my own packets of San-J Wheat-Free Organic Tamari Soy Sauce. You can find this brand at Whole Foods and other local health food stores.

Things to eat:

  • Sashimi
  • Sushi & California Rolls (only those without tempura batter, tamago (sweet egg), or crab sticks in them)
  • Edamame
  • Fruit
  • Some sauteed vegetables and seafood (if you can determine they were not sauteed in soy sauce)

Things to avoid: Fried items such as dumplings, tempura, and many of the desserts. Exercise caution with anything that may have been stir-fried in soy sauce.

What it looks like:

This was the first of many plates I filled with edamame, ginger, sushi, and california rolls. Each time I visit the Grand Asia Buffet, the sushi has been consistently well-stocked, fresh, and delicious. Since this is a popular destination for families and groups during both lunch and dinner, the sushi is replenished frequently by the tireless sushi chefs.

Add a bowl of fried plantains to your meal, as shown above, for an exquisite warm dessert. My handy Food Lover’s Companion (Barron’s Cooking Guide) notes that plantains (aka the “cooking banana”) “…are high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fats; they’re also rich in potassium and vitamin C.”

Green Note: If you would like to educate yourself on sustainable seafood, the Monterey Bay Aquarium website offers a downloadable Pocket Guide to ocean-friendly fish on the Sustainable Seafood Watch.

Grand Asia Buffet on Urbanspoon

Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm  Comments (4)