Feb 27, 2015

12 Great Child-Friendly Restaurants in Singapore (REVISED!)

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Fresh from revising my list of Singapore's Top Indoor Playgrounds, I figured another list which could do with some updating is the one which involves some of the most Kids-Friendly Restaurants in Singapore.

Because let's face it - parents are always on the constant lookout for restaurants that satisfy both their palates and their children's with extra activities to keep them occupied. So here is a listing of 12 kid-friendly restaurants that we have been to and hopefully, it will also give you some enjoyable and affordable dining options that will leave everyone in your family feeling full and happy.

1. Eatplaylove Cafe

Kids Like: Where else in Singapore can you find a quaint retro cafe that serves up reasonable food fare, coupled with an awesome crafting corner for kids? EatPlayLove Cafe is such a place - a stylish retro cafe with all things vintage, whimsical and full of nostalgia. An entire crafting corner for kids is THE main highlight for kids here, with loads of crafting materials and ideas abound.

Kids Eat: The eatery serves a mix of Thai-inspired cuisine, Western dishes and sandwiches, and the best thing is that the prices are rather reasonable with each dish averaging $10 to $15. Kids should adore the Pineapple rice and Macaroni & Cheese.

Price Range: $$ per pax | Crafting Corner Costs:  $5/child per 2 hrs on Weekdays & $5/child per for 1st hour on Weekends, Public Holidays and School Holidays. Subsequent charges are at $2.50 per 30-minute block. *Craft Prices correct at time of printing

Address: 28 Aliwal Street, Aliwal Arts Centre,#01-07, Singapore 199918
Opening Hours: 12pm - 10pm daily | Closed on Tues

2. Saizeriya Ristorante E Caffe

Kids Like: If your kids have as a voracious appetite like mine, you can probably empathize how dining outside is getting tougher on the wallet. So thankfully, there is Saizeriya – a Japanese chain of casual, low-priced Italian Restaurant famed for its wallet-friendly jaw-dropping prices. There are no special playrooms or activities for kids here though, but the food prices are enough to turn us into repeat customers, especially with the Free Flow Kids Drink Bar ($1.40 per child)!

Kids Eat: Just how affordable is the food at Saizeriya? Try the half-dozen escargots for $5.90! Or how about the Pineapple & Bacon pizza at $6.40 and Chicken Bolognese Cheese-baked rice at $4.90? Overall, the food is above average and that alone will keep us going back for more.

Price Range: $ per pax (No service charge and GST)

Liang Court (177 River Valley Road, #02-22, Liang Court Shopping Centre Singapore 179030)
City Square (180 Kitchener Road, #B2-55/56, City Square Mall Singapore 208539)
Bukit Timah (1 Jalan Bukit Anak, #02-24C, Bukit Timah Plaza Singapore 588996)
Toa Payoh Central (HDB Toa Payoh #02-514, 190 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, 310190)
Hougang 1 (1 Hougang Street 91, #01-38 Singapore 538692)
The Cathay (2 Handy Road #B1-25/26/27 Singapore 229233)
Orchard Gateway (277 Orchard Road #B2-11 Orchard Gateway Singapore 238858)
Bukit Batok NS Hometeam (2 Bukit Batok West Avenue 7 #01-07 A/B Hometeam NS Bukit Batok Clubhouse Singapore 659003)
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm daily

3. Belly View Restaurant

Kids Like: Tucked away in a hidden corner of Changi is this gem of an alfresco dining place that whips up delicious tze-char food. Families can choose to dine on the boardwalk, right beside a kick-ass scenic coastal view and under the rustling palm trees. Kids will be preoccupied with the mini playground, wooden swing, hammock and the vast open space. Or if that isn't enough, there is always the common sightings of aeroplanes which whizz by as they are making their landing at nearby Changi Airport.

Kids Eat: Admittedly, the main draw here is the secluded location so while the food wouldn’t win any food awards, the tze-char fare is pretty decent. The dishes that particularly stood out were the Fish Head Curry (their signature dish), Home-made Tofu, Salted Yolk Prawns and Fried Mee Sua. 

Price Range: $$ per pax (No service charge and GST)

Address: 10 Changi Coast Walk, National Service Resort Country Club (beside Constant Wind Sailing Centre), Singapore 499739
Opening Hours: 11am - 10pm daily

4. Nook: D.I.Y. House of Pancakes

Kids Like: If you are looking for a dining place where kids (and the parents) can play with food to their hearts' content, then Nook is it. This is one cool place where you get to make, doodle, flip your own pancakes and eat your own creations! And the best part? The kids polished off every single morsel on their plates without me having to nag.

Kids Eat: Pancakes, pancakes and more pancakes! But in case you are craving for something saltier, the restaurant serves all-day breakfast meals too. But the one must-try item on the menu is Nook’s Awesome Cheese Burger soup – yes, I never knew that slurping the soup form of a cheeseburger could be so addictive!

Price Range: $$ per pax 

Address: Bukit Timah, 21 Lorong Kilat, #01-03, Singapore 598123
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 12pm-9pm | Sat & Sun 10am -10pm |Closed on Tue
Website: http://nook.sg/

5. Marché Mövenpick Suntec City 

Kids Like: At over 1,000 square metres, this newest Marché restaurant – and its third in Singapore - is one absolute winner for families. Of course there are the typical colouring sheets and craft sets to hold the kids’ attention, but what they will really dig is the Windmill-themed play area! Almost twice as large as its counterpart in Marché 313 Somerset, the kids’ double-storey play area comes with a mini-bridge and a stairway leading to a hideout on the second floor.

Kids Eat: Marché takes pride in serving healthy nutritional food. For $10.90+, kids get to choose from homemade pastas, pizzas, rosti and crepes with a drink. For parents with young toddlers, a microwave at the Baby Service Station beside the kids’ corner is available.

Price Range: $$ per pax

Address: 3 Temasek Boulevard #01-612
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm daily
Website: www.marche-restaurants.com/en/marche-moevenpick-suntec

6. The Bank Bar + Bistro

Kids Like: Located in the redeveloped part of the Central Business District (CBD), The Bank Bar + Bistro exudes an old world charm with its dark wood furnishings and leather seats, complete with motifs of Straits Settlement money. But what really endeared me to the place was a separate playroom specially devoted to the kids while the adults tucked into saliva-inducing Weekend Roast and All-Day Breakfast offerings (9am – 6pm on weekends).

Kids Eat: The kids’ menu consists of the usual suspects – ham & cheese sandwich, pancakes, fish & chips and pasta while the adults can take great delight in choosing between Roasted Striploin, Roasted Half-spring Chicken and other All-Day Breakfast items. And here’s something even sweeter - Kids eat FREE all weekend (information correct at press time)! For every main course ordered, your kid will get to enjoy his/her entree FREE-OF-CHARGE.

Price Range: $$$ per pax (No service charge)

Address: #01-01 One Shenton, 1 Shenton Way, Singapore 068803
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11am – 12am | Sat & Sun 9am – 12am
Website: www.thebankbar.com

7. Cafe Melba

Kids Love: Located in the grounds of the Goodman Arts Centre (near Mountbatten MRT), Cafe Melba exudes a laid-back charm, with a rather spacious interior and exterior to match. The café faces an expansive green field,  where footballs and rugby balls are freely available for kids to play with. Come every weekend (or public holidays), two bouncy castles will be set up on the lawns which will no doubt bring joy to every single kid.

Kids Eat: Cafe Melba serves up food inspired from Melbourne and Asia (MELB + A = MELBA). A must-try is the Pancakes, which are fluffy, rather cake-like and non-greasy.

Price Range: $$ -$$$ per pax

Address: 90 Goodman Road, Block N #01-56, Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore 439053
Opening Hours: Weekdays 10am - 10pm | Weekends & PHs 8:30am - 10pm

8. Timbre @ Gillman

Kids Love: Tucked away in a sleepy corner of Gillman Barracks, Timbre @ Gillman is exactly the sort of place where one can afford to kick back and chill the weekend away. Especially if you head down on the first Saturday of every month, where the Saturday Social BBQ will offer lots of craft activities to keep your young ones duly occupied. Or how about the huge open green field to let them just run amok as you sip on your pint of ice cold beer?

Kids Eat: Adults can their their pick from Baby Back Ribs, Pork Sausage, Sirloin Steak, Lamb Leg, Chicken or Squid (between S$12++ to S$18++) and complement with one of Timbre's excellent beer selection. Kids will be able to place their own orders from the Kids Menu via an iPad, which offers the usual suspects like Fish & Chips and Spaghetti Bolognese.

Price Range: $$$ per pax

Address: Block 9A Lock Road, Singapore 108926
Opening Hours: Mon – Thu 4pm - 11.30pm | Fri, Sat & eve of PHs 5pm to 12.30am | Closed on Sun | Saturday Social BBQ Hours - 4pm til late
Website: www.timbregroup.asia/timbresg/main.asp

9. District 10 at UE Square

Kids Like: Who can say no to a hearty brunch on a lazy Sunday morning with the entire family? Especially when a huge bouncy castle is thrown into the mix! That’s right - a Bouncy Castle is specially inflated for the kids every Sunday (11am to 3pm) and it is strategically placed right beside the outdoor dining area, so that parents are able to sneak a peek at what their young-lings are up to via a see-through netting at the side of the bouncy castle.

Kids Eat: We had the Hoegaarden Battered Fish & Chips while the kids tucked into the Eggs Florentine and Pandan-Coconut Pancakes with Gula Melaka Syrup.

Price Range: $$$ per pax

Address: 81 Clemenceau Avenue #01-15/16/17, UE Square Shopping Mall, Singapore 239917
Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs 11.30am - 12am | Fri & PH Eve 11.30am - 1am | Sat 9am - 12am | Sun & PHs 9am – 11pm
Weekend Brunch Hours: 11am to 3pm *Bouncy Castle on Sundays only.
Website: www.district10.com.sg/uesquare/

10. Slappy Cakes

Kids Like: Another DIY pancakes eatery where kids need no invitation to play with their food, kids can have their say in choosing the pancake batter and toppings. Squirt, slap and paint the griddle with whatever batter you fancy and then splatter it with your choice of fixings and toppings, before eating it all up like a messed up kid. Who says food can't be fun? And the best part - kids can never complain about the food because they made it themselves!

Kids Eat: Purely pancakes with five batter mixes to choose from – Buttermilk, Wholegrain, Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Zucchini. Yes, the latter is a rather refreshing and interesting flavor I have to say.

Price Range: $$ per pax

200 Turf Club Road, #01-20/21, The Grandstand, Singapore 287994
26 Sentosa Gateway (next to Universal Studios), #01-29, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore 098269
Opening Hours: 
The Grandstand: Tue - Fri 10am - 9.30pm | Sat, Sun & PHs 8am - 9.30pm | Closed on Mon
Resorts World Sentosa: 8am – 9.30pm daily
Website: www.slappycakes.com.sg

11. Rochester House

Kids Love: Just reopened after an extensive renovation, Rochester House has an outdoor café with a children’s play area that offers both indoor and outdoor fun. No indoor tall spiralling slides here, but The Playhouse is peppered with loads of toys in every corner - a make-believe cooking kitchen play area, an area where dress-up play is encouraged, and even a mini slide with a ball pit. The outdoor area boasts a water play area, garden, trampoline and small cars that kids can drive around the astro turf ‘road’.

Kids Eat: There is plenty of entertainment to keep the little ones occupied while you relax in the adjoining Rochester Cafe, which offers healthy options such as steamed fish and veggies or meat loaf.

Price Range: $$ - $$$ per pax

Address: 7 Rochester Park, Singapore 139218
Opening Hours: Tues - Fri 11am - 8pm | Sat & Sun 10am - 8pm
*The Playhouse: 1 hour Play-pass $8 | 2 hours Play-pass  @ $10 | Unlimited Play-pass @ $15
Website: www.rochesterhouse.com.sg

12. Treehouse Café

Kids Love: Treehouse Café offers indoor treehouse and play area as well as a dedicated programme of activities for children, ensuring that the little ones are well-entertained in a fun and educational environment. Regular activities are held every Sunday and are a hit with children and adults alike. These activities are free for dine-in customers. Art & craft activities are held on first, third and fifth (if any) Sunday of the month from 11.30am - 2.30pm. Face and hand painting and balloon sculpting take place on every second and fourth Sunday of the month from 12.30pm - 2.30pm.

Kids Eat: Established for families who enjoy its child-friendly facilities as well a variety of European and Asian dishes that cater to three generations of diners, the cafe also serves up a Children's Menu which features Pizza, Pasta and Pancakes.

Price Range: $$ - $$$ per pax

Address: 200 Turf Club Road #01-17 The Grandstand, Singapore 287994
Opening Hours: Mon – Thur 11:30am - 9pm | Fri & Eve of PHs 11:30am - 10pm | Sat 10am - 10pm | Sun & PHs 10am - 9pm
Website: www.treehousecafe.com.sg

Do you have any other child-friendly eateries in Singapore to share? 

Do let us know in the comments below! 

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Feb 26, 2015

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station Open House

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It has been slightly more than three years and a half since the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station bade farewell to the last train.  Although gazetted as a National Monument in 2013, the now silent station is but an empty shell and remains out of bounds to the general public save for special events.

Well not anymore. The second day of the Chinese New Year saw the beginning of the station being made accessible to everyone on public holidays. And when there is a chance to allow my monkies to be exposed to a part of Singapore's history, you can be certain we will be there.

Very cooperative models I have got, no?

The distinctive architectural style of the building is an ornamented Art Deco one - an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. On its exterior are four pillars with large statues, each symbolising one of the then Malaya’s four economic pillars, Agriculture, Industry, Commerce and Transport.

Inside the main public hall, the lobby features batik-styled mosaic mural panels filled with Malayan scenes: rice planting, rubber tapping, shipping activities, bullock cart transport, crop-growing and tin mining.

But there was always only going to be one place that the monkies were going to zoom to.

The railway tracks, of course!

How often can one get to walk - or sit on - an actual railway SAFELY? Heh.

It turned out that there were quite a number of other families and people who took the opportunity to drop by the station and snap photos against the scenic backdrop. The wifey and I, included.

One of the last remaining bits of heritage left in the Tanjong Pagar area, the station is truly a place that offers a serene surrounding that can no longer be found in modern Singapore. Like a place forgotten by time, the silent beauty of the station took us back to a time when Singapore was much simpler as the monkies had a field day exploring the many now-empty control brick rooms.

Personally, I would have loved it more if there were fringe activities such as a guided tour and a photo exhibition depicting the grand contributions of the station, so that families with young kids can learn more and partake in its history. Perhaps for future Open Houses?

But either way, it is definitely a great place to visit the historical monument for a leisurely stroll along the track with the family and obviously, take photos and more photos.

It is always important to allow places of historical significance like the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to remain accessible to the general public, so that not only adults but kids too will be able to know more about its significance to Singapore during its 79 years of operation.

Well, the monkies sure had their fair share of fun.

And if you are thinking of bringing your kids down for a stroll, you do not have to wait until the next public holiday. The station will be open to public again TOMORROW (27 Feb 2015) for a flea market from 6pm to 11pm. Don't miss it!

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Feb 24, 2015

Our CNY 羊ear of the Goat Celebrations!

There is something I always do every year whenever it is Chinese New Year - I re-read some of the CNY posts that I had written over the past few years, like my very first CNY post when Ash was just slightly over a month old. 

The posts serve to remind me how fast the monkies are actually growing up, as well as how much my parents have aged all these years. But at least something has not changed a bit: all of us still make it a point to capture some goofy shots during the first day of the Lunar New Year!

Our house visiting routine has not deviated much, with the entire family being congregated first thing in the morning for our mandatory cheekiemonkie family photo-taking session.

Then we were off to my parents' place, where the monkies partake in another family tradition that I have grown up doing - serving tea to our elders.

Oh, and collecting those red packets of course!

This year, the monkies' cousin also clamoured to be part of the action too!

And you can be sure it will always be a rowdy affair when the four of them get together.

We then head off to my in-laws' place, where we continue our - what else - feasting and merry-making.

Like all previous years, we ended Day 1 of CNY with visits to both the wifey's and my grandmother's place.

After our Day 1 exertions, the next few days seemed pretty mild. Yes, there were the usual family photo-taking moments but overall, we had fewer places to visit. But no, the monkies could not escape from the usual family photo-taking!

Having fewer places to visit during Day 2 allowed us some time to whisk the monkies off to the National Museum's Open House where there are 2 current exhibitions that are well-worth bringing kids to. But more on that in a future post!

We even had time to drop by at the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, where it was also having its own Open House. And yes, you guessed it - read all the fun the monkies had HERE.

We then visited 2 of my uncles' and aunties' houses after that, and continued with a gathering with the wifey's relatives on Day 3 where the feasting inevitably continued.

Day 3 was also the day the monkies looked forward to the most, as they were reunited with their buddies. The adults even managed to get together for a lohei session.

I think come next year, we need a larger table. Heh.

When the kiddos finally played their fill, it was close to midnight so it was no surprise that Day 4 would see us spending most of the day at home. Save for a dim sum brekkie and a visit to the temple to pay our respects to our deceased grandparents, it was a day of recuperation... and wondering how on earth did the long weekend pass by so darn fast???

But overall, it had been a great 4 days worth of CNY fun for everyone. Now, we have the March School Holidays to look forward to!

Hope you enjoyed your Chinese New Year with your family and friends too!

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Feb 23, 2015

Get Lost to Escape: A Game of Thinking & Teamwork for Families

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Ever since we walked past an Escape Room shop in a mall last year, Ayd has been badgering me to bring him to one. In case you didn't know, Escape Rooms are real-world games that imprison participants in a room with friends, where you are then forced to hunt for clues within the room, using logic and teamwork to free yourselves in a race against the clock.

So when the chance came to bring the entire family down to pit our wits against one such room, it was an offer the monkies (and I) could not refuse.

Opened late last year, Lost SG originated from Hong Kong and is the top rated escape room franchise there. While most escape rooms depend on a traditional lock-and-key concept to advance in the game, Lost SG banks on automation and simulation technology, which gives them an edge over other escape rooms in Singapore. 

There are a total of 5 escape games to choose from, and we were tasked with Alcatraz, which was given a 4.5 out of 6 difficulty rating - the lowest of the 5 games. Only 4.5 stars??? I scoffed at being allocated with the easiest challenge of the lot. Or so I thought.

After watching a chort video clip to set the premise of the story, we were thrown into prison. Literally.

Actually, the suspense began even before that. We were all blindfolded as we were led to our room and when told to remove our blindfolds, we found ourselves behind bars, with nothing in our cell except for a bench, a locked box and some props.

There were 3 cells in total, with all of us were separated and locked up in individual cells. Time was of the essence - we were given 60 minutes to escape - and we got down to work immediately.

To be honest, the puzzles were harder than I thought. Or it could be due to the fact that we did not sit on the puzzles long enough.

Some required a basic level of arithmetic skills, while other puzzles called for a large amount of teamwork - yes, we had to swap certain items through the cell bars to free ourselves from the prison cells.

After we successfully freed ourselves, we had to converge and figure out a way to escape from the room. I would not want to spoil the fun, but let me just say I was impressed with the use of technology in the room, and how it was incorporated with many of the mechanisms that we had to utilise to move on to the next clue.

Also, not all of the room's puzzles bordered on locks and number combinations. We had to scour the room for clues, read every single line of the documents and use our eyes to look out for the slightest hint.

So... the answer to the big question remain: Did we manage to escape in time?

I suppose the photo above is evident enough. We ran out of time but we did manage to crack the code in the end - after an extra 5 minutes.

And naturally, I suppose the next big question is: Is Lost SG for families with kids?

For Alcatraz, it was devoid of any scary element. Sure, it was dimly lit and Ale was initially a tad scared when she found herself locked in a cell. But as the game progressed, she slowly warmed up to it. In fact, the 5 themed rooms do not feature any haunted themes, making it suitable for families with children.

Even though we did not manage to escape, we still lots of fun attempting to solve the innovative puzzles which are nicely balanced with the relevancy of the storyline. But I guess the best testimonial came from the boys, who cannot wait to take on another room! I think that means we will be back for another round then... and this time, we shall be victorious. I hope.

Useful Information

Lost SG
Address: Peace Centre, 1 Sophia Road, #03-01/02/03, Singapore 228149
Opening Hours: Sun – Thur 11am - 11pm | Fri & Sat 11am – 1am
Off Peak: Weekdays 11am – 5.45pm $20.90 per person
Peak: Weekends, Eve of PHs & PHs, Weekday (from 6pm onwards) $26.90 per person
Website: lost.sg

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