When Cherisse Otsuko was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2009, her allergy meant cutting out her favorite local foods.
“I really wanted mochiko chicken and mac salad so badly,” Otsuko recalls. “I kept thinking, I would give anything to have it right now.”
Rather than resign to a life of deprivation, she decided to find a way around the limits of her new gluten-free (GF) diet.
Out of “starvation and an extreme appetite for local things,” she found ways to cook typical, local-style plate lunches using a variety of wheat flour substitutes, such as sorghum, rice and tapioca flour, not to mention GF soy sauce. Her successful experiments led her to open Chrysalis Foods in April 2011. The $6–$8 menu includes GF mochiko chicken, orange chicken, meatloaf, mac salad and more. “The ones that are popular are the ones that replicate local stuff,” says Otsuko. Despite the cost of shipping ingredients from the mainland, she aims for a local-style GF menu every week at the Vim N’ Vigor store in Ala Moana Mall.
Otsuko is currently working on a new chicken katsu recipe that will soon debut, but while you’re waiting, check out the Okinawan sweet potato mochi ($4). It’s got 0 percent wheat, but 100 percent flavor so you can’t tell the difference. Going GF has never been so tasty.Vim N’ Vigor, Ala Moana Shopping Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., open Mon.–Sat. 9am–9pm, Sun. 10am–7pm, 955-3600; more info at [email: chrysalisfoods], 722-4383