If you've read my personal blog, you know of my fondness for Sushi Hana, here in the town of Bothell, north and a bit east of Seattle. When we first started going out for sushi, though, I could only get the kids to eat fruit and sticky rice, and so my husband and I made a decree: each time we go, the kids have to at least try a new food. You’d think this would be easy, because I have a cousin from Japan, and so our holiday meals have included sushi since the beginning. But you’d be wrong, because of one who doesn’t like fish, one who doesn’t care for eggs, one who is allergic to nuts and mango, and so on. So I decided to compile a list of what have (finally!) become our standbys, foods that at least two of the three will eat every time we visit.
This is what my cousin from Japan calls “children’s sushi,” because it’s safe even for toddlers. There are no hard veggies for choking, and the only potential allergen is the sweetened soy tofu wrapper. And if you’re allergic to soy, well… let’s just say a Japanese restaurant is probably not the venue for you.
The classic cucumber roll, and good for even the picky ones. It’s just sushi rice, cucumber, and seaweed. If he’s not too busy, the sushi chef will arrange these rolls on a plate in the shape of a smiley face or a butterfly for my youngest, seven, who treats kappa maki like candy.
Although the one who loathes eggs won’t eat this, the other two will, so it makes the list. It is referred to as the Japanese omelette, and is effectively a strip of scrambled eggs laid on a similar strip of sushi rice, and secured with a much smaller strip of seaweed. Like a Japanese mini-frittata.
I have no idea what this one is called in Japanese, because every sushi restaurant I have ever been to just called it “shrimp nigiri.” It’s very similar to the tomago nigiri above, except with shrimp in place of scrambled eggs (and generally not the little strip of seaweed to secure it). Note: the shrimp in question is thoroughly cooked, butterflied, and chilled. No scary raw fish for nervous youngsters.
While these are steamed soybean pods with a little salt, my youngest calls them “Japanese peas,” which I suppose is a valid enough description for seven. There is apparently a big thrill (over and above the thrill of being allowed to take one’s own food off the conveyor belt) involved in sucking the individual soybeans out of the pod.
Gyoza, Miso Soup and Eggrolls
Everyone knows the first and last of these, but as I have one child who likes each, I thought I’d put them on the list. Plus, if you’re not feeling terrific, coming down with a cold in the Seattle autumn, miso soup is the best stuff around. And at least one of my kids agrees.
Mochi Ice Cream
Yes, I know it’s not really a dish as such; it’s a dessert. But there is something so charming about little ice cream balls coated in mochi (pounded sticky rice starch). As long as we stay away from the mango flavor - the middle daughter is allergic - we’re in pretty good shape with mochi ice cream as a finish to our sushi adventure.