Sushi with kids: How to get picky eaters to try sushi

You CAN go to sushi with kids, even picky eaters. Here's how! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

When my mother-in-law was visiting recently, I wanted to take her out to dinner as a thank you for watching Kiwi and Peeper while I worked. She loves sushi but lives in semi-rural Michigan—not exactly a mecca for delicious combos of rice, nori and raw fish. So I suggested we go out to a local sushi restaurant with the kids—something I was semi-terrified to do, considering they are picky eaters.

I am actually shocked at how well sushi with kids went! The girls ate (a bit), and my mother-in-law ate a lot. (“You don’t like roe? More for me!”)

If you’re feeling brave, I have some advice, dear parent of fussy eaters. Here are my suggestions on how to get picky eaters to try sushi!

Even picky eaters can eat sushi! How to get fussy eaters to try anything. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Sushi with kids: Go for it!

Going to sushi with kids isn’t impossible. Here’s how to make it happen.

  1. Go during happy hour. Your kids will be less cranky, the restaurant will be less crowded and you’ll spend less on sushi.
  2. Go to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. My girls were flabbergasted that food went ’round and ’round—like a sushi carrousel!—and they could just pick the food that looked good.
    Pro tip: Keep a close eye on your kids, or have them sit on the outside of the table, so they don’t get their hands on every plate that passes by. how to get even picky eaters to try sushi at a restaurant - kids dining and travel. Ten Thousand Hour Mama
  3. Order a variety. The whole point of doing sushi with kids is to let them experiment. Getting picky eaters to taste foods as unfamiliar as sushi is a win in and of itself. So get a variety of rolls—raw fish, smoked fish, tempura, veggie-only—and act excited about trying each one.
  4. Pick a familiar food. If your kids like rice, get that. If they like soup, order miso. Make sure there’s at least something to eat on the table that they won’t fight.
  5. Encourage adventure bites. The girls’ cousin calls taking a first taste an “adventure bite,” and we’ve adopted the phrase. We say, “I’d like you to take a bite, and if you don’t care for it, you can say no thank you.” Then it’s fine if they spit it out. The low-pressure experimentation works for us (even if it grosses out other diners. Sorry!) Go to sushi with your kids, even if they're picky eaters. Family travel! Ten Thousand Hour Mama
  6. Nickname unfamiliar foods. My kids didn’t love most of what they tried. But they did like shrimp tempura—which I called “fish sticks.”
  7. Try chopsticks. Ask your server for kids’ chopsticks—they’re held together on the end so even my toddler could use them. She loved the challenge!

Do your kids eat sushi? Tell me how you make it work!

13 thoughts on “Sushi with kids: How to get picky eaters to try sushi

  • May 30, 2017 at 8:15 am
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    Our first sushi out with Edith was to a conveyor belt style restaurant and she loved being able to pick out things herself! And chopsticks are always a hit!

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    • May 30, 2017 at 9:28 pm
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      Yes! It’s a total blast to be able to see what appeals to them as it goes by.

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  • May 30, 2017 at 9:46 am
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    Haha “adventure bite” – I love that! I am so curious what Piper would think of sushi. We should be brave and give it a try some time!

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    • May 30, 2017 at 9:31 pm
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      You never know—she may turn into an unagi fan! 😉

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  • May 30, 2017 at 9:53 am
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    I feel like most kids I know like sushi – except my own kids 🙂 My kids don’t like it now, but they liked trying it when they were little. It’s so fun to look at and pick up, and those kids’ chopsticks are the best! Your kiddos look like they’re having so much fun, and I love your tips!

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    • May 30, 2017 at 10:04 pm
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      I bet they’ll come around to the awesomeness of sushi eventually. 😉

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  • May 30, 2017 at 10:19 am
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    I wish adults would try adventure bites too!!

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    • May 30, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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      Agreed Pech! My mom in particular will not try anything. If little kids like Kiwi and Peeper will try sushi, why won’t a grown adult?!

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  • May 30, 2017 at 1:19 pm
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    Smart tips (especially the adventure bite idea)! It looks like everyone had a fun time too.

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  • May 30, 2017 at 2:13 pm
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    Adorable! What great tips – Especially the happy hour and the conveyor belt. What kid can resist food going round and round, and bonus for check cocktails too 🙂

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  • May 30, 2017 at 5:32 pm
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    That’s awesome! My mom didn’t introduce me to sushi till I was 12 I think, cause she thought I wouldn’t like it. But I did!
    We never went to track sushi places, though, and I bet those are really fun for little kids!

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  • June 2, 2017 at 6:48 am
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    Love these tips–especially the experimental bites! We started that with our little one as soon as she started eating. We gave her the time and space to taste the food and examine it, and never forces her to eat what she didn’t like. Months later, we have a veggie and spicy chicken lover on our hands!
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  • June 3, 2017 at 2:32 am
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    Such good tips for getting your kids to eat sushi, really good ideas. I can see everyone of those ideas being useful.

    It’s bizarre to see so many kids in Australia eating sushi. You walk around the mall and there are little ones of all ages happily munching on a sushi roll of some sorts. It was completely foreign to me when we first arrived from South Africa.

    I love that pic of your mom-in-law. So nice to see her on the blog!

    Reply

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