Sun Luck Garden is one of Cleveland's favorite restaurants. Winning several awards, it's a long standing neighborhood staple with loyal clientele. Now, you can probably guess the story before I say it: I didn't think I could eat there, then, lo and behold! Sun Luck Garden is gluten free friendly! There's a formula to these stories, I suppose.
But the piece you weren't counting on is Annie Chui. Endeavoring to refine an already peerless menu, Annie makes routine trips back East, getting new ideas for her dishes and desserts. Owner, chef, and all around amazing restaurateur, Annie is such a Cleveland staple that when she underwent emergency heart surgery this summer, a community of friends held a fundraising event in her honor. You can view pictures of the party or continue to donate to her at friendsofannie.com. During this time, Sun Luck Garden was closed. But thankfully for all of us, Annie is better and Sun Luck has reopened it's doors.
Annie knows her customers. She values them like friends, and knows them by name, or in my case, food allergy. When I walk in, I'm always greeted with "You! I know I have some things for you. No dark tofu!" (The dark tofu is Annie's creation and is mixed with soy sauce, so it very much not for me.)
Annie knows what gluten is. And she knows how to tell you to avoid it.
Lucky for me, the Sizzling Rice Soup was, is, and hopefully will forever be gluten free. For dinner, my mom and I split the Mai Fun: angel hair like rice noodles with thinly cut mushrooms, sugar snap peas, carrots, bean sprouts, and heavy with white, safe, tofu.
You can't - or at least, we can't, and you shouldn't - go to Sun Luck Garden without getting some of Annie's homemade sorbet. Made simply of ice and fresh fruit, it's a perfect, light ending to any meal and it's some of the best sorbet I've ever had. She routinely offers flavors like grapefruit, raspberry, and mango; though for my money, you can't beat the blueberry, even if it does turn your tongue and teeth blue - in fact, that the multicolored mouth might be part of the fun.
I'll be honest. Sun Luck Garden was, in part, an inspiration for my blog. After my diagnosis, I figured Chinese food was all but lost to me, unless I made it at home. Thus, being able to share a normal meal out with my family - at a place they actually enjoyed - was really exciting. Annie made sure to stress that my gluten issues were not a problem for her and by the end of the meal I couldn't help but wonder why isn't there a way to connect this great restaurant and giving woman with the rest of the Cleveland Celiac community?
Well, now hopefully there is. Thanks Annie. I'll be back soon.