Japanese Food Dinner Ideas for Picky Eaters

May 20, 2024

Can Picky Eaters Still Enjoy Japanese Food? Yes!

In a world of endless options for cuisine, you’re bound to have that one picky eater of your group. Lucky for you, we have a list of the best Japanese food for picky eaters!

When we say picky eaters, we’re not talking about people who have food allergies or follow specific diets like keto or veganism. We are talking about the people who don’t want to eat something because of the way it looks or even just because they are not familiar with the food.

Ever meet a person who orders chicken nuggets at every restaurant, regardless of where they are? This list is for them!

We have compiled a list of the best Japanese food for picky eaters based on the qualities of each dish:

  • Customizability
  • Familiarity
  • Simple Flavors
  • … and more!

So let’s get into it!

What Makes a Picky Eater?

A question that has stumped parents for years: “why is my child such a picky eater & how can I get them to eat a nutritious meal?

There are a few key factors that contribute to picky eaters’ choice in food. Some are easy to understand, while others may be surprising to you!


Tasty shrimp in tempura with red sauce on black background

Picky eaters tend to “eat with their eyes” first. Whether it is reading the items from a menu or seeing it pass by as a waiter brings a plate to a neighboring table, the look of the food is a powerful first impression for picky eaters.

If they cannot identify the majority of the ingredients used to make their dish or it is a color they detest, it can easily turn them off of trying new foods. That’s why simple, easily identifiable meals are perfect for picky eaters.


Obviously the flavor of the food is an important component of the meal for picky eaters. Picky eaters prefer familiar, simple flavors to complex ones. The flavors most picky eaters would say are their favorites are salty, sweet, and fruity.

These are the flavor profiles for the majority of popular processed foods available in grocery stores and restaurants across the world. They are simple and cheap to make or produce for their food. This results in those flavors being the default option for any picky eater.


Believe it or not, there are those who may not like how certain food feels when they eat it. Many people have an aversion to oysters because of this reason alone.

The way food feels when being chewed can be an intimate process. This is why you see children spit out their food rather than swallowing it and just not taking another bite. They don’t want it, plain and simple. It is similar to the reaction you have when you take a drink expecting water but it is actually soda. It’s jarring to the body.

While you or your child may be mature enough to not spit out your food due to texture, it is still an understandable reason that food texture is a reason for your pickiness when choosing your next meal.


When in doubt of how your food will taste, you can always customize it to your liking!

There are very few places to eat today that don’t allow you to customize your order due to a rise in dietary restrictions for restaurant patrons. While you may not be able to get bulk items like soup changed to your liking, there are plenty of options you can.

Japanese cuisine has many different options for each type of food they make (and you will see later in this list). With all of the options available, it is next to impossible to not try at least one or all of the best Japanese meals for picky eaters!

Dinner Ideas for Picky Eaters at a Japanese Restaurant

Let’s look into some of the delicious dinner ideas your picky eaters could savor and be a fan of for years to come! Each of these meals is a traditional Japanese dish and we included why we believe your picky eater will love it!


Ramen is one of the most versatile and traditional foods in Japanese cuisine. It is a go-to option for those looking for a quick dinner idea for a filling meal. It is a combination of broth, noodles, vegetables, and meat or seafood.

Why will picky eaters love it?

Ramen shines due to its simple flavors that can be customized to your liking. It also uses ingredients that are familiar, recognizable and, most importantly, delicious!

It’s also considered a comfort food. A simple meal that will put a smile on your face and make you feel right at home. Who doesn’t want that?
With these factors working in its favor, ramen can serve as a versatile and enjoyable meal option for picky eaters, providing both comfort and a platform for gradually introducing new flavors.


Japaneese Chicken Karaage

Karaage, the Japanese style of fried chicken, is another food that can be appealing to picky eaters. This is for those who love to order chicken nuggets as their lunch and dinner.

You may be thinking “it’s fried chicken, of course picky eaters should like it.

You’d be exactly right! That is why we suggest it as a go-to Japanese dinner idea for picky eaters!

Karaage has a mild flavor that is not overpowering. It uses simple ingredients as part of its batter like ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. They create a light, crispy and familiar flavor that have your picky eater ordering seconds.

The presentation is simple too! It is served plainly so your picky eater can see everything. You can even add some flavor by dipping the karaage in your favorite sauce. While typical sauces for dipping include sweet and spicy, lemon juice, or even mayonnaise, there is nothing wrong with grabbing the ketchup bottle too.

For picky eaters, especially those who might be wary of new or mixed dishes, karaage offers a simple, tasty, and non-intimidating option that still allows them to enjoy a delicacy from a different culture without straying too far from their comfort zone.


Deep Fried Chicken Gyoza

Gyoza, the Japanese dumplings often filled with ground meat and vegetables, can be quite appealing to picky eaters. Gyoza is pan-fried on one side and then steamed, which produces dumplings that are crispy on the bottom and tender on the top. The combination of textures can be very pleasing and is often appealing to those who might be particular about the texture of their food.

Gyoza is also small and can be eaten in one or two bites, which makes them less daunting for picky eaters who prefer to try new foods in small amounts.

And while traditional gyoza fillings are popular, the versatility of gyoza means they can be filled with almost anything, including all-vegetable or all-meat fillings.

For picky eaters, gyoza offers a gentle introduction to trying something new while still providing comfort through familiar ingredients and simple, pleasing textures. They are an excellent way to explore flavors from another cuisine without stepping too far outside of one’s comfort zone.

Tempura-Style Vegetables

Tempura-style vegetables can be an excellent meal for picky eaters for those who are on a vegetable-based diet. Tempura batter creates a light and crispy coating around the vegetables, which can be appealing to those who enjoy crunchy textures.

This can make the vegetables more palatable for individuals who are sensitive to certain textures or who prefer their vegetables to be crisper.

The batter used in tempura is also relatively neutral in flavor, allowing the natural taste of the vegetables to shine through. Tempura-style vegetables are often served as colorful and visually appealing dishes. The vibrant colors of the vegetables and the golden-brown coating of the tempura batter can make the dish more enticing for picky eaters.

Overall, tempura-style vegetables provide a tasty and visually appealing way to incorporate more vegetables into the diet of picky eaters, offering a balance of familiar flavors and textures with a hint of novelty.

Fried Rice

Fried rice can be an excellent option for picky eaters. It’s the most popular dish ordered in Japanese restaurants for a reason.
Fried rice is incredibly versatile, allowing picky eaters to customize it to their preferences. They can choose which vegetables, meats, and seasonings to include or leave out, ensuring that they’re comfortable with the ingredients in their meal.

In regards to texture, fried rice includes a mix of soft rice, crunchy vegetables, and tender pieces of meat or tofu. This variety can be enjoyable for picky eaters who appreciate a bit of difference in their food.

Fried rice can also be served as a side dish alongside other dishes or as a main course on its own. This allows picky eaters to incorporate it into their meals in a way that suits their preferences and dietary needs.

Overall, fried rice offers a flexible, customizable, and comforting option for picky eaters, allowing them to enjoy a satisfying meal tailored to their tastes and preferences.

Rice Balls

Rice balls, also known as onigiri in Japanese cuisine, are a fantastic snack option for picky eaters.
These little treats typically consist of just a few ingredients: rice, a filling, and sometimes a sprinkle of salt or seasoning. Fewer elements for picky eaters to be wary of, making rice balls less intimidating.

Rice balls are often wrapped in nori (seaweed), which not only adds flavor but also serves as a convenient and mess-free way to hold the rice ball. We understand that your picky eater may think seaweed is too “adventurous” but it can be easily eaten around and avoided if need be.

Rice balls are a staple of Japanese cuisine and have a long history and cultural significance. Exploring foods from different cultures can be an exciting way for picky eaters to expand their culinary horizons in a gentle and enjoyable manner.
Overall, rice balls are a versatile, customizable, and culturally rich food option that can be particularly appealing to picky eaters, providing both familiarity and opportunities for exploration within a single convenient package.

Bring Your Picky Eater to Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

Now that you are equipped with a list of foods your picky eater cannot object to, it’s time to take it for a spin on your next trip to Kobé Japanese Steakhouse!

Kobé Japanese Steakhouse is renowned for its authentic Japanese cuisine. Try an amazing wagyu steak or sample some of our favorite cocktails and sake!

And don’t forget about our Hibachi Dinner! Have a trained chef cook your dinner right in front of you! They make sure you are entertained throughout the meal and you leave with a belly full of amazing Japanese food, even for your picky eaters.

Book your reservation today!

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