When you are traveling to China or just started living in China, you should be aware of Chinese food for kids. Eating out with kids can be a daunting task, especially in a foreign country like China where the cuisine is vastly different from what kids are used to.
However, with a bit of preparation and some knowledge about the local food culture, you can make the experience enjoyable and memorable for your whole family.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about eating with kids in China, including tips on how to choose the right restaurants, what dishes to order, and how to handle picky eaters. So, let’s dive in!
10 Best Chinese Food for Kids
Once you’ve chosen the right restaurant, it’s time to order food that your kids will enjoy. Here are some popular dishes that are kid-friendly:
1. Fried Rice
Fried rice is one of the best Chinese food for kids. It is a staple dish in China that is loved by both adults and kids. It’s a simple but flavorful dish that typically includes rice, vegetables, and sometimes meat or seafood. The rice is stir-fried with eggs, green onions, soy sauce, and other seasonings to create a savory and delicious meal that is easy to eat and great for kids who are picky eaters.
2. Sweet & Sour Pork
Sweet and sour pork is a popular Chinese-American dish that has become a favorite around the world. It’s a great option for kids who enjoy crispy fried Chinese food and sweet flavors. The pork is battered and deep-fried until crispy, then tossed in a tangy and sweet sauce made with vinegar, sugar, and ketchup.
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3. Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao chicken is a spicy and flavorful dish that is perfect for adventurous kids who enjoy a bit of heat. It typically includes diced chicken, peanuts, and vegetables, all stir-fried together with a spicy sauce made with chili peppers, garlic, and soy sauce.
Dumplings are a classic Chinese dish that come in a variety of flavors and fillings. They are small, bite-sized parcels of dough that are typically filled with ground pork, shrimp, or vegetables. They are easy to eat and great for kids who are learning to use chopsticks.
5. Steamed Buns
Steamed buns, also known as baozi, are a popular snack in China that are loved by both kids and adults. They are soft, fluffy buns that are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as pork, beef, and vegetables. They are perfect for kids who enjoy handheld snacks.
6. Spring Rolls
Spring rolls are a light and crispy appetizer that are perfect for kids who enjoy finger foods. They are typically filled with vegetables, such as cabbage and carrots, and sometimes include shrimp or pork. They are fried until crispy and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.
7. Stir-Fried Noodles
Stir-fried noodles are a popular dish in China that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be served with a variety of sauces, making them a versatile option for kids who enjoy noodles. They can be made with egg noodles, rice noodles, or wheat noodles and can include vegetables, meat, or seafood.
8. Hot Pot
Hot pot is a communal dish that is popular throughout China. It consists of a pot of simmering broth, into which diners add meat, vegetables, and other ingredients to cook. It’s a fun and interactive way to introduce kids to new Chinese foods and flavors.
9. Egg Fried Rice
Egg fried rice is a simple but delicious dish that is perfect for kids who enjoy rice dishes. It’s made by frying rice with scrambled eggs and other seasonings, such as soy sauce and green onions. It’s a great source of protein and a filling meal for kids.
10. Milk Tea
Milk tea is a popular beverage in China that is sweet, creamy, and delicious. It’s made with black tea and sweetened condensed milk, and can be served hot or cold. It’s a great alternative to soda for kids who want something sweet and refreshing to drink.
How to Choose Kid-Friendly Restaurants in China?
When it comes to eating out with kids in China, it’s important to choose the right restaurants. Here are some tips to help you choose the kid-friendly restaurants in China.
- Look for restaurants with pictures on the menu: Many restaurants in China have picture menus, which can be helpful when dining with kids who can’t read or speak Chinese.
- Avoid spicy Chinese food: Chinese cuisine is known for its bold flavors and spices, but many dishes can be too spicy for kids. Look for mild dishes or ask the server to make the food less spicy.
- Check for highchairs: If you’re dining with young children, it’s essential to look for restaurants that provide highchairs.
- Choose popular chain restaurants: Popular chain restaurants such as KFC, McDonald’s, and Pizza Hut are available in most cities in China and can be a safe choice for kids who prefer familiar foods.
- Choose restaurants with a family-friendly atmosphere: Some restaurants in China are more family-friendly than others. Look for restaurants that have a casual atmosphere and can accommodate large groups.
Handling Picky Eaters in China
If your child is a picky eater, it can be challenging to find Chinese food for picky eaters. Here are some tips to help:
- Bring snacks: If your child is particularly picky, it’s a good idea to bring snacks from home that they enjoy.
- Stick to familiar foods: Look for familiar Chinese foods such as pizza, burgers, or pasta that your child may be more likely to try.
- Let your child choose: Give your child some control by allowing them to choose one dish or ingredient for the family to try.
- Be patient: It can take time for kids to adjust to new Chinese foods and flavors. Encourage your child to continue trying new foods and flavors, but don’t force them to eat something they don’t like.
- Ask for modifications: Don’t be afraid to ask the server to modify a dish to better suit your child’s tastes. For example, you can ask for a dish to be less spicy or without certain ingredients.
Not Recommended for Young Kids
While China offers a wide variety of delicious food options for adventurous eaters, there are some dishes that may not be suitable for young kids.
Stinky tofu is a popular Chinese street food in China, but its strong odor can be overwhelming for young children. The dish is made by fermenting tofu in a brine made with meat, vegetables, and other seasonings, giving it a distinct odor that has been described as smelling like rotten garbage or dirty socks.
Various types of offal, such as tripe or pig’s brain, may not be appealing to young children due to their texture and taste. These dishes are considered an acquired taste even for adults and may be too challenging for young children to enjoy.
Even, some dishes may be too spicy or have bones that are difficult for kids to navigate. Sichuan hot pot, a popular Chinese dish, is known for its spicy broth and a variety of meats and vegetables cooked in the broth. This dish may be too spicy for young children and can cause discomfort or indigestion.
Another dish to avoid for young kids is fish with bones. In China, whole fish is often served with the bones intact, which can be difficult for kids to navigate and may pose a choking hazard.
As a parent, it’s important to be aware of your child’s food preferences and to communicate with your server to ensure that your child’s meal is enjoyable and appropriate for their age and palate.
Eating with kids in China can be a fun and enjoyable experience if you know how to navigate the local food culture. By following our tips on choosing the right restaurants, ordering kid-friendly dishes, and handling picky eaters, you’ll be able to create lasting memories with your family. You will be able to get the best Chinese food for kids. So, go ahead and explore the diverse and delicious cuisine that China has to offer!