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family trip to japan

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I will be visiting Kyoto, Tokyo and Hakone with my family. We are all food lovers and adventurous eaters, with one giant exception: My 13 year old son is the fussiest, and most limited eater on the planet (and allergic to some things). Does anyone have suggestions for both lunches and dinners that would appeal to the food lovers, but also take into account the 13 year old? (He doesn't eat any fish, red meat, dairy) , We are open to local dives as well as big splurges. Many thanks for your thoughts.

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  1. What is he allergic to, and how serious are the allergies? That's a very important consideration. I'm guessing "red meat" includes pork?

    1. recommendation in kyoto:
      nishiki ichiba
      http://www.kyoto-nishiki.or.jp/english/
      it is a market and it is kind of nice to see how different/same the food are when traveling. i believe there are also some places you can snack or lunch.
      enjoy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: yumyumyumyum

        But if he's allergic to seafood or is nauseated by it, stay away.

        True story--an acquaintance (who was allergic to fish) was visiting Kyoto for the first time and insisted on going to Nishiki. I brought her there without telling her where we were, and we started walking through it. She started to wretch and very angrily said, "Why would you bring us here?!?!??! I feel like puking!!"

        To which I replied, "*You* wanted to come here! This is Nishiki!"

        She shut up after that, but we left the area soon after.

        1. re: prasantrin

          i see. unfortunate...
          so maybe nishiki is not a great place for mamalu...
          hope kyoto has some food allegic friendly places...

      2. No fish can tough in Japan as dashi (fish stock) is used in a lot of otherwise veggie dishes.

        How does your son feel about chicken? A yakitori joint could be fun. Most of the items will be on sticks so everyone can choose what he/she likes.

        Kyoto is well known for tofu and there are several tofu specialty restaurants. Some of the dishes may include dashi but there would certainly be items he could eat.

        Izakayas may also be a good choice because as a group you could order a number of small dishes. Some of them would fit his restrictions, some wouldn't, but it's all out on the table for everyone to share. Most izakayas have simple vegetable dishes like sliced tomatoes, grilled lima beans, edamame, tofu steak, rice with pickles, chicken dishes, etc. Just be sure to ask them to hold the katsuo bushi (dried fish flakes) that often top many things.

        Cold noodles (zaru soba/udon) would be OK, just skip the usual dipping sauce (contains dashi) and use straight soy sauce. There is often tempura offered with such noodles. He could just eat the veggies. (sorry, I don't know how severe his allergies are.... fish/shrimp/veggies are most likely fried in the same oil, which may or may not be a concern) With tempura, again, don't use the dipping broth, use salt or soy sauce.

        If chicken is OK, a basic om-rice (omelette wrapped chicken rice) may be acceptable. Om-rice can be found in almost any shopping mall or food court. Maybe a good lunch option. Lots of variations.

        Something I often recommend to vegans is Seki Han, sticky rice with adzuki beans and sometimes topped with black sesame seeds. I love it! It's not really restaurant fare, but you can find it in supermarkets, rice shops or department store take-out zones. It may fit the bill.

        Not sure if anyone in your group has Japanese language ability. A lot of travelers with food allergies have someone help them print up a card in Japanese that states the allergies so there's no confusion with waitstaff.

        Sorry no specific restaurant recs, but hopefully this gives you some ideas! Have a great trip.

        1. Leave him home? That's what my parents threatened to do with me once when I used to be a "fussy" eater (for a period of time I would only eat french fries, nothing else. Then there was another period when I only ate chicken. And another one when I wouldn't eat chicken.) I think I stopped being a "fussy" eater 24 hours after that threat.