When it comes to most Asian food, my kids are in the “too” camp. That would be “too” spicy, “too” saucy, “too” sticky and of course the old familiar “too” many vegetables! Since most parents love a little spice in their lives, it’s always difficult to find a way to eat one of our most favorite cuisines and keep the “too” crew from freaking out.
However, in our many visits to the , we’ve been able to satisfy our craving for global eating and get a thumbs up from the kids.
The unique thing about East Village is that their menu, while limited in size, covers Japanese, Korean, Thai and Chinese cuisines, and does it masterfully. I generally find that these type of “fusion” menus are a little too cutesy, providing some combos that don’t work so well. For example, it’s easy to be skeptical about a marinated ribeye and kimchi burrito, but the flavors are so simple and clean that it works.
Eight-year-old Ella was equally impressed with both the menu and atmosphere.
“I wasn’t sure about the name if this would be a good place for kids. But when we walked in, I knew it was a cool place. The first thing I saw was the cartoon. A Japanese cartoon was on that I didn’t really understand but I thought that was pretty cool. I was staring at it the whole time.”
Yes, the décor is modern and hip, without being overdone. A metaphor for the menu itself, actually. And quite fun for the kids.
“The lights are different shapes and I like that. It feels like you are walking into a restaurant on the moon, except for there’s gravity.”
The menu was a trip around the world, and as you may know by now, the Gourmet Girls love sneaking in those veggies in a tasty and unexpected way. The Chive Street-Cart Pancakes starter was a perfect way to do this.
“We had the chive pancakes for an appetizer. They should cover up the veggies so you don’t see them because you don’t taste them at all. But a little kid might be like ‘ewww, that has veggies in it, I’m not going to eat that.’ To me, it tasted like a pancake with no sugar or anything in it. Yeah. Good.”
We also always start with our old standby of edamame, which came with a stern warning from Ella: “Don’t order the edamame with extra salt because it was too salty. I repeat, way too much salt.”
Their three-item kids menu is enough to satisfy most little ones, including their nod to my picky son, Chicken Fingers. I at least applaud them for including teriyaki sauce instead of ketchup.
Ella loves the Kids Noodle Plate, and goes gaga over those noodles!
“The noodles tasted like clouds dipped in joy. They were awesome. Long and squishy. Some noodles don’t have a good flavor but these noodles had like flavor in them and they were just delicious. So you might want to get the noodles when you go. They come with carrots and broccoli and chicken. You eat a lot of veggies without really knowing it. The chicken had a lot of flavor but was not too spicy.”
The Stone Hot Pots are the claim to fame here and for good reason. They come to the table hot as blazes, but if you’re willing to be patient and let the rice crisp up, they are tasty enough to feed two, or a hungry mom and child. Plus, you can add spice to them with East Village’s homemade hot sauce, so you can split accordingly.
“The rice was sticky and you could add your own sauce which I liked. Not as good as the noodles though!”
During our last visit, we opted for the mochi balls for dessert (although I hear the apple won tons are delicious), and I felt a twinge of pride when Ella reminded me “Mom, mochi come three to an order and we’ll need four.” There’s something about having a satisfying meal in an interesting setting with kids that enjoy it that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy as a parent. Sure, it’s not a trip around the world, but I sort of love the fact that my daughter knows the standard serving procedure for mochi balls.
Full disclosure: I am partial to any business that works with local schools, and East Village has supported our elementary in the past. But why not support a neighborhood business that aims for a kid-friendly environment and wants to help build stronger kids within the community?
In the end, East Village is a successful trip for family fun and a chance to dip your child’s toes into cuisine from many cultures. Plus, for us parents, their beer and wine list rocks!