Kid-Friendly Eating in Japan

It may sound crazy, but my 21-month-old son cannot get enough Japanese food. In China, Dek barely touch anything other than bread and watermelon. Before we left for Asia he hardly ate rice, let alone a piece of sushi. We got off the plane in Osaka and he started gobbling down whatever we put in front of him.

Salty balls of tasty goodness- Salmon roe was the biggest hit of our trip

Now before you marvel too much at amazing and adventurous son, keep in mind that Mike had finally joined us on our Asian adventure. Dek’s family was together again. He had his favorite person back.

No time for a napkin, a little dribble of Salmon roe makes its way down Dek’s chin

Dek first surprised me when we got to Kyoto. After a long first day of wandering the streets, we were desperate for some easy food. We popped into the basement level of  a department store to grab some dinner. If you are not familiar with department stores in Japan, they are food meccas. It’s an easy place to grab a quick, cheap (for Japan) meal. We picked up some sushi boxes and tempora, and headed home.

Dek nibbled on some chicken, but was more interested in Mike’s food. Dek is a daddy’s boy through and through. Anything daddy does must be awesome. If Mike ate it, Dek ate it too. Tempura, octopus balls, yakisoba. You name it, this kid was game to try.

Dek picked up a salmon roe from Mike’s plate and popped it in his mouth. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning. Dek went in for another one. And then another. And another. Before we knew it, he had finished two piece of Salmon roe sushi. I was ecstatic. After 2 weeks of hardly eating anything, my boy was finally getting some protein.

From then on, we just offered him whatever we were eating. This is something I do all the time, but this time it actually worked! The combination of delicious Japanese food and Mike must have turned a switch on in Dek’s stomach. He went on to eat Mike’s octopus balls,  steal the tempora off my plate, and decide if he liked pork or seafood in his okonomiyaki.

Some of Dek’s favorite foods may surprise you. I encourage you to try out different things with your own kids. Even the most picky eater may try something you never thought they would. Just don’t tell them what’s in it!

  • Salmon Roe (even now, his favorite by far!)
  • Octopus balls
  • Tempura vegetables
  • Yakisoba
  • Soba noodles (cold)
  • Okonomiyaki
  • Salmon and tuna nigiri
  • Hibachi steak, corn and okra
  • Plain white rice (may not seem weird to you, but he never was interested before this trip)

Once we returned to the states, he started chowing down on sushi any time we went out.

  • Avocado roll
  • Philadelphia rolls
  • California Rolls
  • Sesame noodles

If you have not done conveyor belt sushi yet with your kids, go out tomorrow night. It is the perfect introduction to sushi for a kid (adults too.) It is the easiest, most entertaining meal we do as a family. The food comes instantly, which averts melt downs in hungry toddlers. Plus the belt is fun to watch. What’s more novel than food wandering around a room?

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8 thoughts on “Kid-Friendly Eating in Japan”

  1. Robin

    He obviously did not inherit his adventurous palate from his maternal grandparents! Maybe some of Aunt Barbara leeked into his genetic pool.

  2. Lisa @ Oahu Mom

    We have conveyor-belt type sushi restaurants nearby but haven’t taken the kids yet. Thanks for the reminder that we need to do that!

    1. Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      I think conveyor belt sushi is the only time I am sane when we go out. With an almost 2 year old, I’ll take any moments of peace I can get!

  3. TwoWishes Tara

    He has good taste — I agree that salmon roe is the greatest thing ever!!

  4. Snapping Blabber

    Oh, my kids die for sushi. A very expensive taste 😉
    We cannot wait to get to Kyoto and I hope by the time we get there no more bad news come from the nuclear plant.
    Did you find a cheap place to stay in Kyoto?

    1. Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Sushi was one of the cheaper options in Kyoto. And worth every penny. Seriously, hit up the basements of the department stores. There are goo grocery stores in there too. We rented a little house towards the west end of Shijo-dori. It was much bigger than any hotel for the same price. I can email you the info. I found it on Can’t wait to read about your next adventure! Love your photos too!!

  5. Snapping Blabber

    I remember it was surprisingly easy to eat cheaply in Tokyo, so I am looking forward to doing it again. Please send me the info. We found something a few months ago, but I would love to have a few options. Where are you off to next?

  6. Keryn Means

    I’m emailing you the house info now. Off to Philly and NH next. State side for a while. At least till the fall.

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