Each month I will be featuring a local parent who will tell us about three places they love to take their kids in Columbus! Thanks to Bethia for sharing 3 of her favorites with us this month! Bethia is an expert in the ethnic food scene in Columbus so, naturally, she is sharing 3 places she loves to take her daughter to EAT in Columbus!
Sunflower is not only one of our daughter’s favorite restaurants, but also one of our favorite places to take her. During their weekend ‘dim sum’, a wide variety of appetizer-sized dishes are wheeled around on carts and to your table soon after you’re seated – useful since hungry children (and adults) don’t have to wait long for sustinence. You can order dishes in the traditional manner if you know of something specific your child would like, but you can also indulge their curiosity by letting them point and choose dishes on the carts. Dim sum at Sunflower is noisy and bustling, with plenty for the kids to watch, and the din of other diners seems to drown out low-level fussiness. They’re also well equipped with slings and high chairs, and very accommodating with kid’s water cups. A fish tank outside the entrance is a great diversion for restless toddlers.
Good starting dishes for kids new to dim sum are: shu mai, shrimp dumplings, sticky rice in lotus leaf, and silver needle noodles. Also the char siu bao, which comes in both steamed and baked varieties. We recommend the pandan jello and coconut jello on the dessert cart!
Tip: there are some great kids books about dim sum that can introduce the concept and some dishes before you go. We love Dim Sum For Everyone by Grace Lin.
Japanese restaurants in Columbus always seem to be particularly welcoming to children, and at Japan Marketplace you can choose from 4 unique Japanese food establishments offering a wide variety of child-friendly takes on the cuisine. Our daughter loves sushi so we often find ourselves at Sushi Ten where she craves either futomaki or a California roll with miso soup. Sushi Ten also offers appreciated diversions for young ones with their large and well-stocked aquarium and quirky Japanese kids shows on the TV.
Tensuke Express offers a variety of noodle, rice, and snack dishes and also has an overtly kid friendly atmosphere. For a fuller menu and table service there is Akai Hana which provides a distinct kids menu. Belle’s Bread offers sweet and savory pastries, crepes, parfaits and soft serve as well as some prepared sandwiches.
Tips: Japanese Marketplace also houses Tensuke Market where you can buy frozen dumplings, noodles, snacks and other kid-friendly Japanese food to take home. At Belle’s the changing table is conveniently located outside of the restrooms.
3. Menya Ramen
Menya is a uniquely popular destination for our daughter, and in no small part due to their dining room play area replete with a toy stove and kitchen utensils.
Though Menya doesn’t have a dedicated kids menu, their regular menu has proven exceptionally popular with the toddlers in my and my friend’s lives. We steer clear of the traditional ramen dishes for our three year old and instead share dipping noodles with her and order from the sides, including: dumplings, edamame (soy beans), onigiri (rice balls). You can also ask for side orders from the ‘extra topping’ menu, which includes traditional ramen toppings including sliced pork, soft boiled eggs, and extra noodles. Menya features shaved ice, ice cream and almond tofu for dessert. They also eager to please the little ones by providing child sized plastic plates, cups and utensils.
Tip: ask for a table near the play area so when the kids get bored at the table they can play close by while you finish your ramen or chat.
Bethia is the co-founder of Columbus Food Adventures, a business offering guided food tours in Columbus. You can find her on Instagram at @cbusadventures to see what she’s been eating. She lives in Victorian Village with her husband Andy and 3 year old daughter Zoe. They are really passionate about ethnic food and write for Columbus Monthly and blog at alteatscolumbus.com.
Bethia is originally from the UK, has traveled extensively and has lived on this side of the Atlantic for 15 years. Among other things she has worked as a financial regulator, high school teacher and rowing coach. Bethia is one of the founders of both tacotruckscolumbus.com, and streeteatscolumbus.com and is a board member of Slow Food Columbus and Dine Originals Columbus.