March 23, 2011

A Cup of Peace in Boulder Offers Full Menu of Gluten-Free Korean Food and a Gluten-Free Energy Shake

By Evan Sandsmark -  

We love Asian food. It’s delicious, and it also seems to be gluten-free more often than not, probably because the cuisine of this region of the world centers on rice, vegetables, and meat, or so our Western experience of this food suggests. If you also like Asian food and have a gluten intolerance, we encourage you to try A Cup of Peace, a small Korean restaurant in Boulder that offers only gluten-free food.

Following an email from the restaurant’s owner, we decided to eat lunch at A Cup of Peace this afternoon. Our judgment in the realm of restaurant selection was vindicated once more, as we had an excellent meal and unearthed yet another great place to find gluten-free food in Boulder.

A Cup of Peace is part of a strip mall located at Arapahoe and 33rd. The storefront is easy enough to spot because the door and windows are bordered with yellow (and the large, round sign above the entrance that says “A Cup of Peace” is helpful too). The color scheme is carried into the restaurant’s small dining room, where all four walls are coated in a light yellow. The floors and tables are made of wood.

Food is ordered at the front counter, and then you select a table to sit at as your dish is being prepared. While waiting, you might be inclined to drink some tea, as there are a couple of large containers with tea in the dining room that customers can fill their cups with. (For the record, there are also a number of different teas – at least 20, and they are primarily medicinal or “healing” teas that come in a variety of different styles – that you can buy and prepare at home.) After about 10 to 15 minutes of gazing around the dining room, our meal was served, and the other customers around us were served with similar quickness.

We ordered the “Korean B.B.Q. Style,” which is as tasty as the name is charming. It was served to us on a large, green tray/plate with four separate dishes. It also came with a fine pair of metal chop sticks, which we used with style and grace…to play drums on the side of the table. For the eating, we mostly used a big spoon that also came with the meal. Presumably, the restaurant gave us the spoon for the same reasons that academic advisers urge dance majors to at least minor in business.

The first thing we tried was the miso soup, which was served in a small glass cup with a handle on it, meaning it could be sipped like a cup of tea, or even a cup of peace, assuming peace is fluid, and it is, at least if we’re willing to equivocate between two meanings of the word “fluid.” It was extremely tasty and seemed to have more flavor than your average miso soup. Unlike a lot of miso, it didn’t have many squares of tufu or pieces of seaweed, but you generally can’t taste that stuff anyway. We moved onto the salad next, which consisted of lettuce, a little cabbage, and a couple of tomato wedges. Though simple, the salad was really good. It was lightly drizzled with a sweet dressing and was an excellent starter in conjunction with the miso soup.

The main dish was served in a thick, black bowl with a heavy lid on it. The container’s heft suggested that a meal could stay warm for several years if properly sealed within it, but that’s neither here nor there. Inside was a delicious and spicy (although it can be ordered mild, too) mix of tender chicken, multigrain rice, shredded carrots and cabbage, and chopped onions. One thing that struck us about the dish is that it had a basically equal ratio of chicken and rice (the vegetables were blended in a manner that made their relative proportionality hard to judge). Normally, a restaurant might load you up on rice to make the dish appear large, perhaps in an effort to appeal to the average (which is to say “obese”) American, but A Cup of Tea nobly resists this technique, supplying us with a hefty portion of chicken to match the amount of rice given.

(As a side note about a side dish, we were given a really small bowl with what appeared to be spiced-soaked, shredded lettuce in addition to the three dishes mentioned above. This struck as a little random, and as a matter of fact it probably is, but the spicy lettuce was none the worse because of it, and in truth we thought it was pretty good. Random things can be great – just think of the jokes on Family Guy.)

In case what has been described so far has not whetted your appetite, we feel compelled to say that there are of course other options on the menu, and all of them are gluten-free. To begin, the dish we ordered can be made with steak or tofu instead of chicken, and side dishes could have been added to modify it further. It also can be ordered in two different sizes – the “light portion” and the “regular portion” – the latter of which is recommended if you’re hungry. Other than that, there was another dish called the “Korean Rice Salad,” which, not unexpectedly, is made with rice and vegetables. This dish can also be ordered in a light or regular portion with steak, chicken, or tofu, and it comes with miso soup as well. There are a couple of other items available, and there is a breakfast menu available till mid-morning to boot.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that A Cup of Peace recently released a new multigrain energy shake that is gluten-free (it’s also free of a few other things, like caffeine and soy). The shake is made with 20 organic nutrients, nutrients that will rejuvenate the body and mind with protein, minerals, dietary fiber, and vitamins, according to a brochure that Ki Kim, the owner of the restaurant, gave us. According to this same brochure, the multigrain energy shake is from a thousand-year-old recipe and used to be consumed by monks during intense training periods. Word.

For more information, check out this website:
(The full website is launching soon and should include more information about the restaurant, but at present there is some helpful information about the multigrain energy shake posted.)

A Cup of Tea’s address:
3216 Arapahoe Avenue
Boulder, CO 30303

Note: This is the fourteenth article in a new series presented by On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant, try a thing or two, and write about our experience. We will, of course, be sampling exclusively gluten-free food so we can report back to our readers about the items worth having. However, many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to We’ll try our best to check it out!

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