I guess in certain parts of the country, sushi would be considered an adventurous cuisine to feed a toddler. Here in San Francisco, I think it is pretty standard fare. In my opinion, every family should have a great Japanese restaurant in their repertoire of restaurants. Not because I think babies should eat raw fish (which don’t—LB loves fish, but it is always cooked), but because sushi menus contain lots of great things to keep your little one occupied while you enjoy your meal.
Here are my favorites:
- Tofu: It was one of LB’s first foods because it is soft and fun to eat. It’s always easy to get as Sushi places. Some places will just give you a little bowl of what they have pre-cut to go in miso soup. I usually end up placing a real order though. My kid can really eat tofu.
- Edamame: I take the out of the shell for him and he’ll eat them like candy.
- Sticky rice: It’s rice and it’s sticky- do I need to explain this further? It’s perfect for fat little fingers to stuff their faces.
There: we have starch, protein and vegetable. I’m not a nutrition expert, but I think that qualifies as a balanced meal.
It was a beautiful day last week and I decided that LB and I would dine at Blowfish Sushi to Die For, in the Mission. In the interest of full disclosure, we’d been there twice before. I had amazing sushi there when LB was a few months old. (As a side note: we went there with my mother, who was in from out-of-town. She insisted we eat there because they were the only place in San Francisco that served her new favorite vodka – IS Vodka. She actually called the company, who gave her a distributor, who sent her the name of this restaurant. Yes, my mother likes her vodka. IS is pretty smooth, which might be why I don’t remember that dinner very well.) I’ve also been there one other time without LB and I remembered enjoying it very much. So off to the Mission we went.
The restaurant just feels cool. Citysearch says, “Japanese anime merges with SF-style grungy chic in this hard-edged hipster spot.” Sounds a little too cool to show up with baby in tow, right? Not to worry. LB was dressed for the occasion in a retro 1980s San Diego Zoo tee-shirt and torn jeans. (Lest you think my son is one of those kids wearing fake vintage t-shirts, this one was actually mine from the 1980s.) He looked like a mini-hipster.
When we walked in, I requested my usual table for 1.5. We were led to a large table for 5. I know that the host was just being nice, but I kind felt as if I were in a department store and had just been directed to the “WOMAN” section. Did I look like I was going to be such a mess I would need a huge table? I know that’s harsh. The man was just being nice. And it was nice that I had a place for the stroller and a little room to spread out.
I asked for a high chair, but no luck. They only had boosters. (I didn’t remember that from last time…but LB was probably not sitting up at the time.) Booster was not going to cut it for my Little Buddy, but I had this one under control.
I highly recommend that any parent who wants to be adventurous with their tot invest in some kind of portable high chair. I like this one “My Little Seat.” It’s small enough to fit in my purse and while it doesn’t work on every size chair, it usually does the job.
So I set LB up in our portable chair. He was a little low, but didn’t seem to mind that his head just peeked over the edge of the table. He was happy and bobbed his head a little to the techno beat coming from the speakers.
The restaurant was about half full. Our waitress came and took our order. I was a little nervous because there really only seemed to be one waitress for the whole restaurant, but she looked like she had it under control. I asked about tofu for LB. She said I could order a side. I asked if it had a sauce on it. She wasn’t sure if there were peanuts in the sauce, so she said she would bring it plain. Perfect.
I decided to try something new for LB and ordered him shiitake mushroom maki. He likes mushrooms, so I thought that would be a winner. For myself, I ordered a spicy tuna roll and 2 pieces of sake. The lunch menu was decidedly trimmer than the dinner menu. I remembered the dinner menu having a huge selection of unique fusion rolls. The abbreviated lunch menu was much more standard.
We looked around at the crowd. It seemed kind of typical for the businesses in the area, mostly artist/photographer/music types on lunch breaks. LB was happy when I pointed out there was even another customer his size. He likes it when we see his own kind out and about.
The food came very quickly. I was a little disappointed to see the LB’s tofu was actually rolled in something and fried. This would have been ok except I wasn’t sure that the oil wasn’t peanut oil. Also LB is going through a phase where he doesn’t like anything crunchy. Weird, I know.
I decided to take a chance on the peanut oil and gave him some tofu. (There was a group of medical looking people in scrubs at the next table.) He looked at me like I had given him sand to eat. He was mortified. It was like I had destroyed his favorite meal. So I slowly began to peel the fried part off and he slowly began to forgive me.
Next, I tried to give him some of the shiitake maki. I wasn’t sure how he’d deal with the wrapper, so I took the mushroom and rice out for him. He wasn’t into it. So I started to eat it myself. He frantically began to wave at my hands. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. He kept pointing at the maki and I kept pointing at the mushroom and rice that was in front of him. Finally in frustration, I put a whole piece in front of him. He smiled and proceeded to unwrap it and eat all the mushrooms and most of the rice. Independent little bugger.
My food was great. The sake pieces were very fresh. The spicy tuna roll, for me, is like a vanilla cupcake at a cupcake place. It’s the standard. If they can’t get the vanilla cupcake right, I’m not going to bother with the fancy flavors. If the spicy tuna is too spicy or if it seems like they just coated a low-grade tuna in hot sauce, I’m done. This one passed the test.
LB was busy unrolling the mushroom maki, so I decided to go for another round. I liked the salmon so much I went for a Sakezanmai Roll. It was salmon, salmon skin, ikura, masago, shiso & sprouts. The waitress recommended it as one of her favorites. Like the rest of our food, it came pretty quickly.
Now it was my turn to feel like someone had given me sand to eat. The roll was so crunchy (maybe from the salmon skin?) that I couldn’t eat it. The only thing that was kind of good about it was that I gave LB some of the ikura (salmon roe). He put it in his mouth and stared at me before calmly taking it out of his mouth and putting it on the table. I love the face he makes when he decides he is done with the piece of food in his mouth. It’s priceless.
The check came very quickly. There was an error, so we had to wait for the bill twice, but it was ok. LB was antsy pants so I quickly gathered our things and we were off.
I didn’t check for a changing stall (sorry! I forgot!) but I’m guessing they probably don’t have one, since they don’t have high chairs.
Overall, our experience was fine. The sushi is really good- especially “the basics.” The service was prompt and they were friendly to LB. I am really perplexed by the no high chair thing. They just aren’t that expensive (about $45). It seems like such a no-brainer. We’ll go back, but in the meantime we’ll keep the competition for “favorite family sushi spot” open.