There's something to be said about a restaurant where your kids run into the dining room and the owner scoops them up into her arms, and spends the next 30 seconds squatting down, talking to them, and only them, and then leads them over to a mat, filled with toys and things to play with. And let's them be themselves until the food comes.
It's also something when that restaurant is run by a chef who makes her own Dashi (what Japanese restaurant in the US does that?), never uses MSG, sources nearly everything she can locally, has an extensive vegan and gluten free menu, and thinks it might be important that your five year old taste the broth with her. Or that you should get an Umami lesson along with your Agedashi Dofu.
Theres is something about a place like that.
The following pictures were taken at Gomen Kudasai, New Paltz, New York. November 26th, 2010. The chef's name is Youko Yamamoto. She is making Dashi here, and telling me stories of food in Japan, and David and the girls are there, Lucy running in and out of the kitchen, all of us happy, relaxed, immersed and well-fed.
You're gonna love this.