Adventures in dining out

May 28, 2008 at 10:43 p.m. ET

A few nights ago we decided to go out for dinner as a family. We haven't done this in quite some time (for no particular reason). While trying to decide where to go, I assumed the kids would choose one of the typical burger or pizza restaurants and had already prepared myself for that. But just for the heck of it I threw out some ethnic options. Indian? Japanese?

Little Girl eating SushiWhen the boys responded back, "Yes! Japanese!" I looked at them and thought, "Who are you people and what have you done with my children?" but in another instant came to my senses and said, "Then Japanese it is," before they could change their minds.

Our area is not known for the expansive choices in ethnic cuisine. In fact, the restaurant scene is notoriously desolate. Anytime a new place opens, ethnic or not, we flock to check it out. Will this be the restaurant to turn the tide and bring more and better dining to our area? Typically, no, but we hold onto the hope as long as possible.

Finding opportunity

As such, we parents haven't had as many opportunities enjoy or to try various cuisines as we would like, much less the kids. On top of that, they're kids. Woody is still outgrowing his touching food phase (you know, when nothing on the plate can touch) and Sunshine still thinks the four major food groups are peach yogurt, pear yogurt, banana yogurt and vanilla yogurt.

Before I had kids, I insisted that my children would be adventurous eaters. I never thought that the introduction of something other that Annie's would be an issue at all. But it turns out that even with the best efforts of the parents, kids will be what they will be, in every way, including their food choices. Imagine that. We tried to introduce new flavors early in their lives, seeking out the few ethnic restaurants near us and making longer treks into the city to find this cuisine or that, but it got to be such a battle. I gave up for the most part.

Pleasantly surprised

So when the boys eagerly asked to go to the new Japanese restaurant in the next town when I mentioned it, I was seriously and pleasantly surprised. And a touch apprehensive. Would they really eat something there?

We all ate well that evening, and we may have a new family favorite restaurant. The kids weren't fearless eaters, but they were adventurous enough. While they ate around most green things, Alfs even liked the spicy tuna maki. Sunshine kept asking for more and more bits from my bowl of udon.

What's the message here? It's not exactly "keep trying" because I didn't. It's more "keep doing your best and keep the faith and your kids will surprise you one day." I'd heard this before, but hardly believed it. Tastes evolve for all of us, and I'm just luck this one area of taste evolved sooner rather than later.

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