It’s the family’s special night out and no one can agree on where to go for dinner. One member of the family wants pizza, the other wants burgers and someone else wants fast food. But who gets to decide this time? Does this sound familiar?
This was a common discussion in our family (7 year old & 4 year old) but we THINK we finally found the answer…ethnic food! Probably not the answer you thought, am I right?
There are a few reasons why ethnic food has become our “go to” when dining out. First of all, why should I pay for food at a restaurant when I know how to cook it at home (ex. burgers, pizza, etc.). Secondly, dining out should be an experience! Where else can you get a new experience than trying new foods and the atmosphere that comes with it!
Here a few of our favorite types of ethnic restaurants:
Japanese – Our favorite part, the Hibachi table. You (and maybe 5 other guests) sit around a hot flat cook table and your own chef will cook your dinner right in front of you from start to finish. All the food is fresh and if you have a very talented chef, they usually do additional “showy” items with the food when cooking. Like tossing an egg in the air and catching it in their hat, or make smoking trains out of stacked onions, or really light up the table with some extra flames! The kids love it!
Moroccan – There is a great restaurant in NW Portland called Marrakesh. When you first walk into the restaurant there are linens drapped from the ceiling, with pillows on the floor, and small tables for everyone to gather around. Our kids love the fact that you eat EVERYTHING with your hands! It is 5 course dinner, so you or the kids won’t be hungry when you leave (or the next morning). The servers even bring a wash basin to the table and spray your hands with ointment. If you go on certain nights, there is also a bellydancer. If you child is brave enough the dancer will show them how to dance in front of everyone. Tons of fun!
Monogolian – A great type of dining that even gets the kids excited about vegetables. Most of these restaurants have a cold buffet filled with frozen meat and fresh vegetables. You simply grab a bowl or 2 and fill up the bowls with all the meat and vegetables you heart desires. At the end of the buffet there are various sauces that you pour over and can mix and match to enhance your masterpiece. After you pick your sauces, you hand the bowl(s) to the kind cooks waiting to prepare your creation on a large circular cook-top table. It takes a few minutes for all the ingredients to finishing cooking but it will be worth the wait!
Tapas – Typically Spanish, are small dishes that everyone shares at the table. Usually we get 5-6 different items off the menu. Some examples are cheese plates, different meats, egg dishes, vegetables, desserts, and on and on! The best part about tapas is the variety of foods that each dish presents. So, if one person doesn’t like something there are 5 other dishes to try. It’s a great way for the kids to sample various foods without running the risk of them not eating their whole plate…because they aren’t suppose too.
Ethiopian – Another great type of ethnic eating that requires no utensils. Our dish was served on a large tray. The base of the dish was a savory pancake like substance with various types of entrees on top. You rip off some of the large pancake and dip or scoop it into the entree. If your kids are like mine, any type of food that is eaten with their hands is a winner!
Vietnamese – An excellent way to get the kids to eat their vegetables. Our favorite dish is the “make your own summer / salad roll”. Of course, this isn’t the official name of the dish and don’t ask me the real name because I couldn’t remember if I tried. What makes it fun is all the fresh ingredients that arrive on a larger platter. Along comes a supply of rice paper rolls that you dip in water and then you begin to build your own salad roll. This is a sure way for the kids to eat because they pick what goes inside!
So, there you have it! A few ideas to break the traditional restaurant routine. There are many types of ethnic restaurants that you can try with your family. What are your favorite ethnic restaurants to try with the kids? Check out what ethnic family-friendly restaurants are in your neighborhood by visiting our directory, here. Share your comments below.