Kids are notoriously picky eaters, not to mention they get easily distracted and aren’t always great at staying seated for long periods of time. And most of them don’t know a lot about etiquette, especially when it comes to foreign cultures.
For all the reasons above, taking kids to a Chinese restaurant for the first time can be daunting. In this post, we offer tips on how to navigate the experience, from choosing “safe” food options to dealing with chopsticks and more.
Distraction is Your Friend
Going to a Chinese restaurant is a novelty for many children. They think it’s fancy and they want to be like their parents.
But they are still children, and as you know, they can get antsy and act up when they are expected to sit for a while. Parents can corral their young ones by telling them some interesting facts about Chinese food and culture.
For instance, make learning to use chopsticks into a fun activity. Mom and dad can even use this opportunity to teach their kids how to hold chopsticks. Hint: it’s just like holding a pencil. To make it easier, wrap a rubber band around the top of the chopsticks.
Another good distraction tactic is to ask the server for a few fortune cookies prior to the meal so kids can reveal the hidden message and busy themselves breaking apart this sweet treat. Since fortune cookies are so light, they won’t ruin any appetites.
Read the fortune to kids who can’t yet read. If the Chinese restaurant has place mats with zodiac signs featured on them, this is another activity parents can do with their kids. Have fun reading each family member’s sign.
Many kids are picky eaters, and that’s OK. They can still enjoy a night out at a Chinese restaurant.
Just focus on ordering bland options that aren’t too spicy or heavy. Lots of kids love chicken nuggets, so you can order sweet and sour chicken without the sauce and tell them they are Chinese chicken nuggets, suggests Mamapedia.
Other kid-friendly choices for picky eaters include:
- Teriyaki chicken with sauce on the side
- Steamed white rice
- Fried wonton
- Steamed veggies
- Sweet and sour chicken
- Chow mein
- Chicken fingers
- Chicken wings
- Egg rolls
- Chicken satay
- Moo Goo Gai Pan (chicken cutlets and veggies in a light sauce)
Parents can use this time to give their kids a quick lesson on Chinese food etiquette, says Ocean Palace. Share these suggestions with older kids so they are aware of the ways to show respect when eating:
- Don’t place chopsticks straight up inside a rice bowl; this is indicative of the ritual to burn incense for the dead and is frowned upon as bad manners.
- Use chopsticks the right way: by picking up food with them and not spearing the food like you would a fork.
- Don’t use chopsticks as drumsticks or swords; this is an annoyance to other diners.
- Take all leftovers home.
We hope you found these tips helpful on how to take the kiddos out to their first Chinese restaurant.