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Food in Sasebo, Japan (also, baby etiquette)

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Hello everyone,

My husband and I are military, and we have lived in Sasebo one year, but in that time I have been pregnant (my food aversions were to all Asian food! Most inconvenient) and had a baby, and so am only now really able to get out and about. I'm afraid I don't know too many local people.

I'm looking to expand our horizons -- we already have a few places we go to (Kyuu on Kashimae pier, a tempura place just off the arcade, Kanae sushi near saki town, and Sushi Cafe SaSa also in saki town). Does anyone here have suggestions? (Suggestions nearby in Hirado, Ureshino, etc also welcome.)

I also wonder if someone could tell me about baby etiquette -- as our son gets older, more curious, and more prone to screaming while happy, we try to leave him with a baby sitter if we go out to dinner. However, I don't see many kids out in general ... is it just not done to bring a reasonably well-behaved child to, say, a ramen joint for lunch? (Kiddo, 5 months old, avoids the grabbing and happy shrieks if he's reasonably well-stimulated, rested and fed before we go out) We've accidentally wandered into a (mostly-deserted) izakaya place thinking it was yakitori and they were quite polite about everything, but it would seem discourteous of us to go back.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. I can't help with the Sasebo information but I can say that most Japanese do not bring infants (under 6 mo.) out in public very often. That said, when infants are out in public, "fami-resu" are probably where you would find them. Sadly Chowhounds and "fami-resu" don't go well together, but there you go. If there's a local joint where you know the owners and can ask politely (or call ahead) that's best.

    1. Have you read the blog of Blue Lotus? She recently had a baby and often talks about bringing him out in public (including to hotel restaurants). She's based in Tokyo, so ymmv, but she has some relevant things to say for your situation.

      1 Reply
      1. re: prasantrin

        gkanai: Yikes, I've been avoiding "Joyfull"s like the plague. I hope it doesn't come down to that. Most places we've brought my son have been happy to have him so far, even asking where he was/being disappointed not to see him when we've gone back without the baby.

        prasantrin: I hadn't seen Blue Lotus' blog. Thank you, for many reasons, for pointing me in her direction!

      2. My experience is mainly in Tokyo.
        Whilst I have admittedly not seen may children in 'high end' establishments, kids and babies have often been dining near me in more modest establishments (I don't tend to go to the obvious family destinations like Jonathan's or Denny's unless I'm meeting someone there). I've often had wonderful conversations with children keen to practice their English under the approving eyes of their parents.

        Unfortunately, I was due to spend about a month in Tokyo with my own infant earlier this year but the awful events of that time coincided with this trip and my family in Japan made it clear that they did not want us to be there so I do not have the first hand experience I should have.
        My impression was that the only real barrier to eating out with a child was the smoking. As long as the baby is reasonably happy and that you are doing everything you can as a parent to placate and keep them happy I've not seen any signs that the Japanese wouldn't be delighted to have you as customers or to dine alongside you. My own Japanese husband dined in restaurants with his parents since he was a baby, we fully expected to do everything we usually would with our child and I would have been honestly shocked to encounter any objections or hints of disapproval.
        Where I wouldn't take a child is to an izakaya or other establishment were drinking is the prime pursuit, mostly as a sign of respect to other patrons who aren't looking for a family atmosphere, but if the place is empty then why not? The main problem would be the smoking levels.

        We've been to many Japanese restaurants in London as a family where the staff are Japanese (and who's conversations my husband can understand). It's never ever been an issue.

        It's a shame all your aversions were to Japanese food. I was in Tokyo whilst pregnant, the trip (organised before I knew) coincided with the one short window throughout that time where my excessive morning sickness subsided. Boy did I make the most of it!

        1. i was stationed in sasebo foralmost 2 years.most of my time in town was paradise alley they called it. but icame to liking a soup they called choompon (i know spelled wrong) but was it good.noodles,pork stemmed onions ,reg. onions octapus bacon bean sprouts and they then mixed very lightly egg into it. would like any info i can get on this. several places in town and several places in paradise alley offered this. did not spend much time in town although i lived outside of town .cant remember name.

          1. While infants are indeed seen less commonly in restaurants in Japan than, say, the States, we've been going to restaurants in Japan with our little ones (from the time that our oldest was probably like 4mo) and we haven't had any problems. Types of restaurants that particularly work out well with infants are any place with tatami room or booth seating. In those places, you can simply set the baby (this is where detachable car seat comes handy) on the tatami/booth. Any large restaurants, like buffet restaurants and some hotel restaurants, tend to be more conducive to bringing along babies, as well.

            I find that ramen joints typically don't work well with babies, because those places are counter seating or small tables and there's too much hustle and bustle. You're also better off not taking babies to places that are high-end. But that goes for pretty much anywhere else in the world. The smoking thing really depends on the restaurant. Majority of larger restaurants in Tokyo have separate smoking and non-smoking sections. However, some restaurants seem to do the ventilation thing much better than others.