The food is easy to make at home, but most restaurants are very child-friendly in China, as the ‘children are to be seen not heard’ mentality has never been the case in the East – in fact their status is higher than adults in some cases.
There are many customs and traditions involved with the dining process in China, just as in Europe, but they’re so commonplace we don’t even notice them.
Things to know before you start: crossed chopsticks are bad luck, except in a restaurant where it can indicate you’re finished and would like the bill. Slurping from a soup bowl is perfectly acceptable, and actually very sensible, as it allows the liquid to cool before hitting the tongue. And your kids will love this one – burping is a sign of food appreciation!
So, here are a few child-friendly dishes to make at home or when eating out in China - either way it will be a cheap, healthy, tasty, and easy option.
There are many regional styles of cuisine in China, but there’s one thing they all have in common… rice. Yes, it’s the main staple of Chinese cuisine, and is included in virtually every meal there – but what kid doesn’t like rice?
The options are limitless too – egg fried rice, chicken fried rice, shrimp fried rice, steamed rice with anything… you get the picture!
2. Spring Rolls
The Chinese have made takeaway food an art form, and none more so than these deep fried parcels of meat and vegetable – of course, it’s the dipping sauces that add to the experience too.
3. Dim Sums
These traditional little dumplings are stuffed with all sorts of wonderful ingredients, and I’m yet to meet a human who doesn’t like them. Dim Sum houses are found all over China, they’re super cheap, super kid-friendly, and in many places you can watch the super-fast hands create these gorgeous morsels – which will inspire you to make them yourselves.
4. Won Ton Soup
Along the lines of Dim Sum, these little parcels are full of flavour and fun to eat, especially when they’re in a light flavoured broth – healthy and happy kids all round.
Easy to make, easy to buy, and easy to eat, this isn’t a dish best served cold, but it is a dish best served when you’ve got a cold!
6. San Choi Bao
The Chinese like to wrap food in edible receptacles, and this dish is no different – it also means you don’t have to master the chopsticks that much, and saves on dishes if you’re at home!
Basically, it’s cooked protein and vegetables served in lettuce cups – Iceberg is the best variety for this. A popular version is ginger beef with spring onions, but you can put anything in them, there are no rigid rules!
7. Peking Duck
Given a choice, this would be my last supper, and has been since I was knee-high to a grasshopper! The whole ritual of wrapping duck, spring onions, cucumber, and hoisin sauce in a thin pancake is part of the enjoyment, but it’s the taste that makes this one of the most popular dishes in any Chinese restaurant in the world.
8. Chinese Coconut Buns
Desserts, sweets, and puddings are quite different from Western cuisine, and usually involve custards, red bean paste, lychees, and deep frying, but that doesn’t mean your kids won’t like them – especially these Chinese coconut buns. But if you’re watching your figure, I'd steer clear if I were you, because one is never enough!
The Chinese language is a tricky one to master, but with a few lessons you’ll be able to find what you need in the supermarket, and order what you like in a restaurant – making the whole experience a much easier one, for you, and the kids!
What's your favourite Chinese meal?