Monday, March 8, 2010

What to Order for Toddler at a Japanese Restaurant

Image from Mari's East West Kitchen, which has great recipes.

Part 2 of my posts on what toddlers can eat when you go out to ethnic restaurants.  

Henry loves Japanese food.  In my opinion it's perfect baby food:  light, subtle, and includes lots of great proteins and veggies.  Although many of the below items are things I can make at home for a much more affordable price, there are other items on the menu I like to order that I can't make at home.

Salmon (sake) Kama or Yellowtail (Hamachi) Kama are great dishes for toddlers.  Kama is the fish collar, and is very tender.  It's not a ton of meat, but plenty to fill up a little belly.  Although it's on the salty side, it's packed with healthy fats.  We pair Henry's salmon kama with white rice and broccoli.  If you want to make this at home, you can call your fishmonger and ask him/her to save the collar for you. Many places throw out the collar, so you might even get it for free!  Salt and broil for 10 minutes.

Miso soup:  Henry loves the tofu floating in the soup, and the broth is saltier than what he usually gets at home.  My sister mixes rice into the soup for added substance.

Teriyaki (chicken, beef, shrimp, salmon) is also a safe bet.  Henry loves the sweet sauce.  

Ramen Noodle Soup:  I cut up the noodles and he slurps them up.  He loves the fish cake that usually accompanies the soup.  And the soft braised pork is easy for him to chew.  I would pass on udon, it's a lot chewier than ramen.

Onigiri is also a great snack or meal.  It's a rice ball with something delicious in the middle:  salmon, seaweed, plum or other oishi (delicious) things.  Although it's not as nutritious as some other options, this is probably his favorite.  He loves rice like his Dadda.  

Gyoza:  preferably steamed or in a soup - so the skin isn't tough and you can avoid unnecessary oil.  Dumplings are easy to chew (ground meat) and include veggies and a noodle wrap.  

Shrimp Shiumai (cantonese influence, but often served at Japanese restaurants) are very soft and easy to chew.  Plus they are delicious!

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