It’s the official kick-off of stuck-inside season, in which even though there will be days of glorious outdoor fun in the snow, there will still be days when it’s too cold, too wet, or too annoying to do anything out of doors. And yet you still greatly desire to leave the house!
If you have kids, that often means you’re heading to the Lego store at the Mall of America, the roller coasters at the Mall of America, the American Girl store, Games by James, the Disney Store, the mini golf—you know the drill. If you’re me, this always leads to a point in which you’re starving, and settling for the least-bad option.
But hark! Hear the herald maki rolls sing! Did you know that at the end of last year’s stuck-inside season Masu at the Mall of America debuted $6 kids meals? It’s true! I didn’t realize until now, but last March they started it, and it was such a hit they immediately added it to the Northeast location as well. It’s fantastic. My current favorite kids menu in town. It’s even better on Tuesdays, because on Toddler Tuesdays kids eat free! Oh the joys. Joys like, $6 for one of the following:
- Ramen noodles, either in broth or buttered.
- Two shrimp tempura buns (that’s the classic steamed rice bun, stuffed with shrimp tempura, lettuce, and slathered with plain mayo, instead of the spicy kind).
- Chicken teriyaki rice bowl (sliced chicken breast, squirted with a bit of teriyaki sauce on a bed of rice. You can get the chicken and rice served separately, recommended for the suspicious child.)
- Chicken meatball and zucchini robata skewers, with rice and pickles.
- Chicken nuggets and French fries (for the absolutely adamant child.)
All the meals come with a scoop of ice cream for dessert, and straw-lid cup of water that’s kid-perfect. (Pro-tip: They give you a carafe of water, so you can refill your cups and take them with you to encourage rehydration while you’re waiting for face painting.)
The meals are for kids 12 and under, but would probably not satisfy a hungry 12-year-old. When I was there I added edamame for the table and a cucumber roll (with no wasabi!) for my six- and eight-year-old kids. The adults had flights of top-shelf sake, sashimi, and the pork belly ramen bowl. My kids thought the chicken meatballs were the hit of the day: three balls of minced chicken with a nice mellow zesty flavor, each about the size of an egg yolk. (Add more chicken meatball robata skewers at $4 a pop, if they love them.)
As much as my kids talked up the meatballs, I noticed they actually ate the teriyaki chicken rice bowl much faster. Kudos to Masu, too, for giving us crayons to color in Munny doll outlines, which even though we have at home, the tots remained enchanted with.
As for the grown-up food, the sashimi was of very good quality, the salmon dewy, the scallop subtle, and while the pork belly ramen was nowhere near as good as the one at the Northeast Minneapolis location when the first Masu opened, it was still the best thing I can think of to eat in the whole entire Mall. Oh yeah. I think Masu’s the best restaurant at the Mall of America. Did I bury the lede? Maybe.
Anyhoo, let me repeat what I want to be your take-away: Masu kids meals are really good and six bucks. Six bucks! A solid half of what a kids’ combo meal will cost you at the Benihana newly opened down the hall. And free on Tuesdays. In conclusion, parents of Minnesota, file this in your noggin, stock up on waterproof mittens, and never forget that if the Polar Vortex comes back we can all just drive south till we hit the beach at Corpus Christi, Texas, or go out for bumper cars and chicken meatball robata.