MSG in Hong Kong?

Apr 9th, 2015, 08:19 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
MSG in Hong Kong?

This is the first of many questions about Hong Kong. My husband is sensitive to MSG and is worried that he will not get a night's sleep for our entire trip to Shenzhen and Hong Kong. I do not want to eat in French, Italian or international restaurants while in China. Will we have a problem?

Thank you for your advice and restaurant recommendations.
tarquin is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 12:50 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,906
Have the concierge at your hotel write out something for him saying that he cannot eat MSG. Some high-end restaurants catering to foreigners don't use it, others can accommodate him. Some places may turn him away. Be aware that dishes like soups (which have been made in advance) and sauces will likely have msg.

I can't tell you about Shenzhen, but the same approach should work.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 02:55 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 394
> I can't tell you about Shenzhen, but the same approach should work.

Less likely, unless you eat right at the top end, e.g. one of the Shangri-Las or similar. Although claims that there's no 味精 may be made regardless.

Why go to Shenzhen, it might be wondered, when Hong Kong has so much to offer and Shenzhen so little? If a side-trip to mainland China is wanted there are much more interesting and equally easy-to-reach options.
temppeternh is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 04:00 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,906
I wondered about that, Peter. Shenzhen has always been on my list of places to avoid.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 10:05 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 909
You could conceivably eat at a fancy restaurant, and they may mistakenly give you the green light, not realizing that the canned sauces have MSG. Therefore, I vote for having your husband avoid Chinese food entirely. I know that sounds boring for you, but we had great sushi while in Hong Kong, and you will find many alternatives as well. There are endless choices in Hong Kong.
CaliforniaLady is online now  
Apr 10th, 2015, 01:56 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
Thank you everyone. The idea of a "no msg" note sounds good, even if it just makes my husband feel better. High end eating is not likely to happen on this trip.

Why Shenzhen? Our son is into his third year teaching in a language school there. We decided to bite the bullet and visit him as he has no plans to leave.
tarquin is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 02:25 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 597
Great reason to visit Shenzen!

You might want to check out Select Wisely. They print food allergy cards in every language imaginable for every allergy. I get them translated into the language of every country I travel to as one of my children suffers from food allergies and sensitivities. The link is below:

http://www.selectwisely.com

Enjoy your son!
Lolazahra is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 02:32 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
Thanks for the suggestion, Lola. I had a look at the msg one and I think if we flashed that "I will need immediate medical care," we wouldn't be allowed into any eating establishment! We will ask our son's Chinese friend to write something for us.
tarquin is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 02:40 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 597
That will work too, but know that you can do custom cards as well for anyone else reading and in need of translation services.

For one of our allergies, we would need medical help and for others I custom as needed. We show them at every eatery around the world and people are usually very accommodating and go out of their way to help. We found this to be so in Asia as well.

Good luck. I hope you have some amazing meals.
Lolazahra is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 08:25 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,906
Be prepared for getting turned away at a lot of places. I was surprised how much of a problem finding msg-free food in Japan was. We had LOTS of restaurants turn us away. In China, I would expect it to be more difficult. Some high end places, like Spring Moon In the Pen didn't use msg at all when we were there.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 09:25 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 597
Good to know about Japan Kathie. We don't have an allergy but I would like to avoid.
Lolazahra is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 11:48 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,906
We laughed about how often we ate Italian food in Japan!
Kathie is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 01:09 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
That is exactly what I am trying to avoid - we go to Italy several times a year but have never been to China.

Being an expat, my son knows foreign eating places, but I will not be there long enough to tire of Chinese food.
tarquin is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 01:17 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,906
Well, good luck. A lot depends on how serious your husband's sensitivity is to msg and how flexible restaurants are able to be in their cooking. If they use pre-made sauce or soup bases, those will all contain msg. If you really want Chinese food and the restaurant cannot accommodate your husband, you may also have to split up for meals. Don't be surprised if a restaurant indicates that there are only one or two dishes they can make without msg.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 08:48 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 909
I have a MSG hyper-sensitive husband, and a son who announced, three days after we arrived in China, that he was "sick of Chinese food." My other son would eat fried lizard without flinching, and I am somewhere in between. That being said, let me offer some examples about we handle travel to China.

1. I take Rise Almond Honey 20 gram protein bars, since their absence of chocolate coating keeps them from melting. I also bring Trader Joe's nuts. These snacks come in handy for hungry males.

2. We typically stay at an American chain hotel, such as the Marriott, that includes a breakfast buffet. This will make it easy for your husband to have an omelet made to order, for example, while you have dim sum.

3. The Marriott is located adjacent to a mall, and we found a restaurant there that is similar to Huston's, but with an Asian flair. Your husband could have a french dip sandwich, for example, and you could have a stir fry dish.

These are just a few examples about how you can work it out. I would be reluctant to take him to a true Chinese restaurant--the staff may pretend to understand your request, and then the chef may get out the jar of MSG, and put it in your food.
CaliforniaLady is online now  
Apr 14th, 2015, 08:33 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,056
Thank you everyone. It sounds as if msg is unavoidable in restaurants serving local food, which of course is what we want. My husband plans to eat msg risky things at lunchtime so the insomniac qualities have time to wear off before bedtime. If he gets desperate, my son is a good cook.
tarquin is offline  
Apr 15th, 2015, 10:25 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,870
We just ate at Lung King Heen, the 3 Michelin star Chinese restaurant in the Four Seasons. They have dim sum for lunch and a wide assortment of Cantonese dishes for dinner. A splurge, but MSG-free for a foodie Chinese feast.
crosscheck is offline  
Apr 16th, 2015, 01:53 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,110
I can't imagine eating Japanese food exclusively in HK when it has best Cantonese food in the world!
indianapearl is offline  
Apr 16th, 2015, 02:31 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,906
It sounds just wonderful, crosscheck!
Kathie is offline  
Apr 16th, 2015, 02:33 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,906
indiana, I also can't imagine eating Japanese food exclusively in Hong Kong, since it is very likely to be full of msg.
Kathie is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:19 PM.