How to have an enjoyable evening with a newly minted 3 year old

Happy Birthday to The Boy!

The Boy turned 3 yesterday, and though we’re having a party for him this weekend (remember the invitation samples), we decided to take him out for dinner last night. Now most preschoolers would pick pizza or hamburgers, but ours loves sushi. Specifically tamago (omelet), masago (those little red eggs), and avocado & inari (sweet tofu) rolls–no, no raw fish involved. This is highly encouraged by us, the parents, as its healthy food for him, and yummy food for us! And no hanging out in Chucky Cheeze. Tips to pull this off are below the adorable picture of my masago covered child, taken with my camera phone. Tips on sushi that is kid friendly at the bottom of this post.
The Boy's Third Birthday Dinner
Tip 1: Find a sushi place that’s kid-friendly. We went to Ru-Sans, which is decent sushi in a casual atmosphere (The Boy loves the dance type music they play too!). They also have japanese food like noodles & yakatori that are other possible child foods.

Tip 2: Order right. We started off with edamame which comes out quickly – so food in the boy’s hands right away. And food that is fun to open and requires a little effort means that he’s kept amused. This time, we just ordered sushi for dinner. For him that meant 4 tamago nigiri, 1 masago, 1 order of california rolls. One of the rolls we ordered for ourselves came with shredded carrots as a garnish, so he gets those too. Alot of times sushi chefs will do neat things for kids — one time they gave him this cleverly cut up orange. Just remember to remove the ball of wasabi before you hand him the plate!!

Tip 3: Keep him Entertained! Chopsticks are great drumsticks. The little soy sauce dishes turned over (with a ball made from a straw wrapper) make for an amusing “shell game”. Go watch the chefs! These keep him amused til food arrives.

Tip 4: Problem Drinking. Well, that’s for us of course! Kidding! No, one thing we always do now when we go to a restaurant that doesnt have kid size cups, but serves the kid drink in a styrofoam to-go cup with a lid/straw, is that we trim about 1 to 1 1/2 inches off the top of the straw. That way he can get the straw to his mouth without tipping over the whole cup. My husband always carries one of those little multitools with scissors, and they do the job nicely. If it’s not a neat cut, just flip the straw over.

Tip 5: A special Dessert. I stashed 3 candles in my purse since I had no idea whether a place like this would have desserts that they did for birthdays. I figured we could order an icecream and stick a candle in the top if necessary. However, the restaurant did end up bringing us a dessert (like a fried icecream thing–i forgot what it was called) with a candle in it, and nothing is funner than a bunch of japanese sushi guys singing Happy Birthday to your 3 yr old!

Tip 6: Kid Friendly sushi. We started him off eating sushi on avocado rolls, because he loves avocado. When he was younger, we’d unroll and remove the nori so he wouldnt choke on it. Avocado and rice, what’s not to love? Tamago nigiri is just an omelet slice on top of finger rice. Remove the nori around it if they are picky. Alot of restaurants serve cooked fish (salmon), or even chicken in their rolls. Also veggie or meat tempura. Just make sure they dont have wasabi slathered on them, or chili sauce, unless your kid is very adventurous. If they like seafood, the crab stick or shrimp (ebi is cooked) are both good choices.

PS.. the biggest tip of all. Tip Well! Especially when your child has spread tiny red eggs all over the booster seat.

edit: I believe sushi is the ultimate toddler food! More on starting a toddler on sushi here.