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Catering to children in Chinese restaurants

The Chinese New Year is nearly upon us which will see many families heading out to eat.  Here we discuss some ideas to help you cater to children.

Children’s menus have been in the spotlight recently, after research by the Heart Foundation found the quality of food on offer was often poor.

Thankfully, many chefs are open to ideas about making children’s food healthier at their cafes and restaurants, and they do see an increasing market for more nutritious meals.  

In the case of Chinese restaurants, most don’t offer a separate children’s menu. Dishes are ordered for sharing, rather than being served individually. But options that tend to be a hit with kids – such as sweet and sour pork ribs, Peking duck, stir-fried rice or noodles, and dumplings – are often ordered by parents to share with their children.

The Chinese New Year begins on February 8, and it’s a key time for customers to dine with friends and family. So restaurants will want customers to have good things to say about their business – increasing the likelihood they’ll return, or recommend it to others.

Here are some easy changes restaurants can make to their dishes to make food healthier and more appealing to children:

  • Include chopped pineapple and colourful capsicum in sweet and sour pork dishes
  • Add sweet corn, peas or any other finely-chopped vegetable in stir fried rice/noodles and dumplings
  • For Peking duck, besides thin pancake wrap, you can also provide lettuce for children to wrap the duck meat 
  • Rather than cutting vegetables into long sticks or big pieces that can be difficult for children to consume, try cutting them into smaller bite-sized chunks
  • Provide vegetable dishes that are easy for kids to eat, to give young people more choice For instance:
    • Spinach leaves in broth
    • Sweet corn and pine nuts stir fried with minced meat or prawns
    • Lettuce wraps
    • Stir-fried broccoli with meat

Here are some tasty recipes to get you started: