How good is Jamie Oliver’s new Hong Kong kids’ menu? We asked five children to rate it

WATCH: Our junior food critics give their fearlessly frank opinions, and a thumbs up or down, to celebrity chef’s healthy dishes for the young at Jamie’s Italian in Tsim Sha Tsui

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 December, 2015, 6:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 December, 2015, 3:45pm

Is it true children will only eat greasy junk food and despise fruit and vegetables? That’s what most Hong Kong restaurants serving children’s menus seem to think, to judge by the lack of variety on offer.

Jamie Oliver recently launched his healthy kids’ menu in Hong Kong, saying children deserve the same quality of food their parents get. So we took five small yet discerning critics – this writer’s two sons, two daughters of hoteliers, and the son of two members of The Hairy Family Jam Band – to Jamie’s Italian in Tsim Sha Tsui to see what they thought of the celebrity chef’s efforts.

“I’m not usually very fussy. I like bananas. My mum used to teach me how to do banana guns,” says Jeremiah Buffalo Wong, six, demonstrating how to shoot a banana. “Vegetables are the hard part for me ... I don’t think I can do vegetables.”

“I like to eat choi, because it’s crunchy,” says Maximo Serrano-Chan, seven. “And salad, because it’s yummy and you can put salt and vinegar on it.”

Do we even need kids’ menus? Shouldn’t children just learn to eat what their parents are having? Hannah Lee, nine, thinks they’re a good idea, as some adult food may not be appropriate for small children. “Usually it’s only Western restaurants that have kids’ menus,” she says. “I’m not sure why – maybe because Chinese food is a wide range and children are OK with it.”

“We don’t really need them, all we need is adult menus but in smaller portions,” says Hugo Serrano-Chan, nine. “Kids’ food doesn’t always have to be the same thing.”

The children proved tougher critics than we anticipated but demonstrated their taste buds work perfectly well, despite having some issues with our “thumbs up/Thumbs down” evaluation method – one younger jury member insisted on inventing variations on “medium thumbs”.

So what were the most popular items on the table (apart from the not-so-virtuous brownies at the end)? The “Shake Me” salad jars with lemony yogurt dressing. “I like the salad ’cause it’s fun to shake it around,” says Hava Lee, seven.

Here’s what our judges had to say about the food they tried.

Organic Mini Meatball Spaghetti, with seven-veg tomato sauce and house-made pasta

“The portions should be a bit bigger. The sauce is not rich enough and the noodles are a little bit hard.” (Hannah)

“Juicy meat in the meatballs. I like it because it’s easy to serve, and very easy to swallow.” (Hava)

“I like the meatballs. Tastes fine, a little bit like tomato.” (Maximo)

THUMBS UP: 4

THUMBS DOWN: 1

Jamie’s Proper Picnic Box

“It’s a little bit burnt so there’s bit of bitterness. I don’t think little kids will like it but for big kids it’s OK. I like it.” (Hannah)

“One part of it is bitter but the other part’s good and there’s cream cheese in it, so I like it.” (Hugo)

“I think thumbs down. Or maybe medium down.” (Jeremiah)

THUMBS UP: 3

THUMBS DOWN: 2

Baby Organic Beef Burgers

“I think the burger is good – beef, salad, and just a little tomato so you don’t really taste it but it’s there.” (Hugo)

“Not quite yummy, because the beef is very, very hard.” (Hava)

“Well I think it’s a bit medium, and a bit thumbs up. It’s got butter on the outside, I’ve noticed that’s there. It tastes like, well, good stuff.” (Jeremiah)

THUMBS UP: 4

THUMBS DOWN: 1

Happy Chicken Lollipops

“Two thumbs up and definitely a big star because I really love barbecue. The meat is very tender and juicy.” (Hava)

“I think it’s yummy because it has a lot of sesame seeds on top.” (Maximo)

“Middle up. Well, I think it’s mostly great. But the burny black part is a bit bitter.” (Jeremiah)

THUMBS UP: 5

THUMBS DOWN: 0

Organic Salmon in a Bag

“Definitely awesome. The salmon is really good, very moist and has a very strong seafood aroma, and the string bean is good, it’s crunchy. But it’s not exactly in a bag.” (Hannah)

“This is definitely the second best. The fish is very juicy ... Hannah, don’t eat my fish!”

(Hava)

“I like the beans too. It’s really nice because you can taste the crunch of the beans with the salmon and the sauce.” (Hugo)

THUMBS UP: 5

THUMBS DOWN: 0

Secret Seven Cheesy Pasta Bake, with seven-veg tomato sauce

“I want tons of this. It’s kind of spicy, but not that spicy, so it teaches little children to start to get used to spiciness in their mouth.” (Hannah)

“I like it because it has more sauce than the spaghetti, it looks beautiful and it’s tasty and juicy. But why do they call it Secret Seven?” (Hava)

“I think it’s yummy because it’s moist and juicy.” (Maximo)

THUMBS UP: 5

THUMBS DOWN: 0

5 more Hong Kong restaurants serving healthy childhummusen’s meals

Seas Ahoy

Smaller portions of American-Asian dishes such as fresh vegetable and quinoa salad, herb-crusted salmon steaks and hidden treasures seafood pasta are served in an ocean-themed dining space. With a play corner and activity booklets, there’s plenty to keep the little ones busy.

Mirror Tower, 61 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 3956 5300

Rosie Jean’s Cafe

Children can snack on rainbow fruit cups, and yogurt and vegetable sticks with hummus or salsa at this cosy cafe, which has a spacious terrace/playground. As well as all-day breakfast, there’s a selection of healthier options such as porridge with fruit or mixed seeds and salad in a jar.

Kam Kin Mansion, 119-125 Caine Road, Central, tel: 2549 9718

Scoool Cafe

This school-themed place will appeal to both big and small kids. The menu includes simple, wholesome Taiwanese meals, served on desks. The drinks come in chemistry flasks and test tubes, and there are shelves full of books and comics. If you come midweek be prepared to queue; weekends are quieter.

Flat C, 1/F, Mai Hing Industrial Building Block A, 18 Hing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, tel: 3188 2380

Hebe One O One

Healthier options here include Luke Skywalker’s vegetable fried rice (available with salmon or chicken), Spidey’s crunchy dippers (crudités with dip), and Nemo’s fillet of sea bass with mash, carrots and leeks. There’s outside seating for sunny weather and board games for rainy days.

112 Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung, tel: 2335 5515

Crystal Lotus

Any dim sum place would go down well with most children, and even the fussiest will be so intrigued by the themed Disney and Pixar dishes at Crystal Lotus they won’t notice they’re eating their greens. Order 24 hours in advance for weekends, 48 hours in advance for weekdays.

Hong Kong Disneyland hotel, Lantau, tel: 3510 6000