It’s Saturday afternoon, the day I typically don’t cook dinner, and time to pick a restaurant. We either meet up family or friends or go somewhere on our own. We have a handful of go-to places: a burger joint, Mexican place, and a Greek restaurant, but our list always feels inadequate.
I like the idea of trying a new restaurant but there never seems a good time to do it. I can already hear the kids resisting and because everyone’s tired and hungry, we end up at a familiar place. When my kids were really little, I didn’t even care where we went as long as I was getting waited on. But now the hubs and I are ready to branch out and would like the kids to also.
Family Date Night
As I brainstormed a bit, I came up with an idea that could make this whole process fun. We decided every month of the new year, to try a restaurant none of us has ever been to. The focus will be on learning how and what different cultures eat. Instead of Saturday night, we will go on a boring weekday and look forward to it all month long. Before going, we will study the culture (my kids are visual learners so it’s all about youtube) and discuss the types of foods they eat.
It’s kind of like a family date night!
There are some rules. Instead of individual meals, we will order family style, like we eat at home, getting input from everyone about what they would like to try. In other words: no kids menu unless it really is different. The goal is to order new food — and not the same old items — and learn about them. After each visit, we’ll rate the restaurant to decide if it’s somewhere we want to eat again.
Our First Try
We decided to do this in January but didn’t start until February because sickness struck our household. Last week, we finally ventured out to a Japanese Noodle House called Chopstix. We will try to double up another month so we can hit 12 restaurants in 2016.
About a week before going, we talked about the type of food that would be there. The kids are familiar with sushi but we hit on the other types of food Japanese people eat. We looked at where Japan is on the globe and touched on how the food differs from other Asian cuisines, like Thai and Chinese. I found this video that Little D just loved showing two girls making a Japanese lunch.
On our way to the restaurant Little D, my very cautious eater had some questions:
Him: What if I don’t like anything?
Me: That’s okay, you don’t have to eat. We are going also to learn about different foods.
Him: But what if I’m hungry?
Me: You usually can find something to eat. You can always have fruit when we get home.
We got there to find no kids menu (yeah!!). We ordered a variety of stuff: Sushi rolls, roast beef ramen, rice, miso soup, chicken katsu, stir fry noodles with chicken and veggies.
They brought the sushi first and everyone but Little D partook. We taught little D how to mix the soy sauce with wasabi even though he didn’t want any. Then they brought the rest of the food. Little D grabbed the stir-fry noodles and decided he liked those and continued to chomp on them the whole time. Big A liked the chicken and rice and picked at the other dishes. And me and the hubs, well, ate everything.
In the car, we decided it the restaurant was good but weren’t sure we’d be back. The good news: Big A was excited to plan our next restaurant adventure. “Mom, I’ll help you plan the next one.” And Little D mentioned he would like to see them make the food next time, so we can keep that in mind.
Overall, I consider it a success because everyone seemed to feel good about it. The kids were pushing for Italian next time (think pizza) but that’s okay. I’m just happy to be trying some new places. Our restaurant adventure has officially begun!!