Jahbella’s Tokyo Adventures (Jul 2015) – Ninja Restaurant Akasaka Review

One of the main things which we were worried about when it came to visiting Tokyo with the kids, was food. We heard that most places in Tokyo or at least those that would be serving the more ‘authentic’ Japanese experience, would not be too child friendly (think small places/ no high chairs/ unfriendly chefs/ zero tolerance for kids who make a pip). So how do we ensure that we get a decent experience (i.e no fast food) but yet feel welcomed and have the kids enjoy themselves.

Taking the train to Akasaka

Taking the train to Akasaka

A friend who had just returned from Tokyo recommended that we try the Ninja Restaurant at Akasaka. The Ninja Restaurant Akasaka is basically a themed restaurant which served mainly course meals and is ‘set’ in a Ninja village. The experience starts from the moment you enter their doors and its main entrance is so non-descript that you can’t even tell what’s behind that door on street level. In fact you wouldn’t even notice it unless you were looking for it. Trust me, we were looking for it and we missed it. :p

Upon entering, your Ninja guide would take you through the ‘village’. Through trap doors and door ways with low beams and ceilings. Lots of bending down and going down narrow stairways before you eventually reach the main dining room. It was all very dark so please excuse our photos which were all taken in a very dark restaurant. Oh and we couldn’t take any photos of our ‘journey’ through the village for fear of falling.

We prepped Jah way beforehand for fear of his reaction to the ‘scary’ ninjas and the dark restaurant so thankfully he was perfectly fine and loved the experience. However we totally forgot about prepping Bella, actually it would have been quite impossible to prep her. She was and is still currently in the phase of “I’m scared of everything” (come on! She was even afraid of standing next to cute ole Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland..sigh). So there was a bit of resistance from Bella and she insisted on sitting on Joel’s lap through the entire meal which was well not the best dining experience for him.

Anyway we were led to our private dining room, yes a private dining area/ room even though it was just the 4 of us. Thank goodness so that we could have some privacy to calm Bella. Oh yes and because we had kids with us, the restaurant had advised that we could only book the 5pm to 7pm dinner slot as they do not allow kids after 7pm due to the ‘nature of the crowd’. While some people might feel ‘discriminated’ by this, I felt that it is a very good system to ensure that the kids were allowed a friendly environment and no one was going to be upset that they might be seated next to kids. 🙂

Don't be fooled by this peaceful moment...Bella was super jumpy hahah

Don’t be fooled by this peaceful moment…Bella was super jumpy! Thank goodness for a private area!

We were asked to pre-order our sets when we made our email reservation so that the kitchen could ensure that they had the ingredients for what we wanted. They had a kids menu available but we chose to order 3 adults meals to share amongst the 4 of us because we weren’t really keen on the kids menu. However a recent check on their website shows that they have updated their kids menu offering a little and even offer a kids ninja bandana as part of the set. Would have been nice if they had it during our visit 🙂

That is where she will stay for most of the meal...:/

That is where she will stay for most of the meal…:/

We ordered their 2 sets of their Tasting Course as well as their Jyubei course. The courses were delivered one by one and only after you have completed each course. So you would probably buffer about 2 hours for the meal. The food was good! Some dishes probably alittle ‘stranger’ than I would have liked but we all loved their beef. In fact the kids were fighting us for the only course of beef that we ordered..grrrr…We didn’t take photo of a lot of our food because we were so caught up in eating, the entertainment and also with pacifying with Ms Bella so honestly the food photos don’t do the meal much justice.

Yes..all edible! Jah was made to believe that they gave him Ninja power!

Yes..all edible! Jah was made to believe that they gave him Ninja power!

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Some of the courses were accompanied by a bit of fanfare – like dry ice coming out of a ‘treasure box’ which they would ask you to open and also get you to crack the magic egg, or a ninja sword display before you were served your next dish as well as some drama as your ninja server prepares your stone boiled soup.

Magic box...

Magic box…

Magic egg???

Magic egg???

Dramatic Sword Display with fire!

Dramatic Sword Display with fire!

Stone boiled soup (The soup was cooked with hot rocks in the pot!)

Stone boiled soup (The soup was cooked with hot rocks in the pot!)

We were initially concerned about whether the kids could sit through a 2 hour meal but with the fanfare and entertainment, the kids were entertained (or at least Jah was..Bella was just always on edge every time the Ninja reappeared with food :p)

They rounded up the meal with a private Ninja Magic Show where a magician would come to your private dining area and perform a few magic tricks. Jah was amused and annoyed all at the same time because he felt tricked by the magician’s ball disappearing from under the cup act. :p

Bella totally suspicious of our Ninja magician (Note no photos allowed during the magic show)

Bella totally suspicious of our Ninja magician (Note no photos allowed during the magic show)

What impressed me about the experience was the fact that the show didn’t just end with dinner. Our Ninja server engaged us and the kids all the way as she was escorting us out of the ‘village’ and even needed Jah to help perform some ‘magic’ before the door would finally open to let us out. They even took their act all the way to street level as they bid us goodbye.

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It was an awesome first dinner out in Tokyo and truly a wonderful official start to our Tokyo Trip. 🙂

JahBella’s Mummy

More of our kid friendly Tokyo Adventure coming up soon…

In the meantime, you can read about…

ZooMoo TV on StarHub 306 + an App + a Giveaway!!!!! [Review]

I will be the first to admit that I have no qualms about allowing my kids to watch TV or play with their iPads. I know that there are lots of debate/ school of thought on this topic but both Joel and I maintain that we do what we have to do and hopefully that is enough or well in this case not too much :p

That being said, I of course do experience abit of guilt when I feel that I have allowed abit too much screen time for the day (especially when mummy just needs to snooze alittle more or need a few moments of peace. And then there are also the hazy days (i.e the last month and ongoing!) where we can’t do our usual outdoor activities which we thrive on.  Honestly there is only so much drawing/ colouring/ arts and craft or play fight that a kid can do in his 12 waking hours before he goes nuts within 4 walls (even the parents feel like they are going nuts!). :p

While we do monitor and control the material which they are exposed it, it absolutely helps to ease the ‘mummy guilt’ when I know that they are exposed to premium educational content such as the ZooMoo TV and the ZooMoo app.

ZooMoo

ZooMoo is a new network for children aged 3-7. Its mission is to create a safe and exciting environment across multiple screens, to stimulate young bodies and minds.

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Opening their special ZooMoo Gift pack..thanks Zoomoo!

Opening their special ZooMoo Gift pack..thanks Zoomoo!

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For more details on how to join the giveaway to win one of these fun gift packs, read on.

ZooMoo TV

The ZooMoo program lineup comprises of 1,500 self-contained shows, combining footage of wildlife with a range of puppetry, animations, and narrative techniques. Its programming schedule is packed into 1 hour blocks, organized in 5 themed strands- explore time, create time, play time, puzzle time and quiet time

The series shown in 1 hour blocks is repeated throughout the broadcast day on StarHub Channel 306.

Check out this link to watch some of the videos.

While JahBella were alittle unsure of the characters and the story line when they watched the show for the first time, they soon started ‘getting it’.

Flash! The engagingly good-natured photographer

Flash! The engagingly good-natured photographer

ZooMoo App

The ZooMoo app opens a world of interactive activities, where the tablet becomes an extension of the television screen, enhancing the viewing experience. Children and parents engage in a world of games, puzzles and activities – a concept wholeheartedly approved by world-leading educationalists.

Through the app, kids can look after 150 different animals on the secluded Zoomoo Island. Feed them, keep them clean, watch 150 real life videos, learn their names and sounds as well as take photos!

I would have to say that the ZooMoo App held an immediate appeal for JahBella especially for Jah. This was even when he was unfamiliar with the concept or characters from the show.

The app taught him about the different animals and through feeding the animals he learnt which animals preferred/ disliked which type of food. The concepts were easy to grasp for a 3.5 year old but at the same time had enough substance to keep him interested and learning new things.

The wonderful part of the app at least for the parents, is the fact that it doesn’t have any third party advertising within it or any in-app purchased required. You only require an internet connection when downloading the app for the first time and then you are good to go! Perfectly safe for the kids to explore without me having to worry that they will chance upon something inappropriate.

Learn more about the app at this link

Showing his little sister the ropes..

Showing his little sister the ropes..

Getting the hang of it

Getting the hang of it

If you are looking for good educational content on TV or on the tablet for your kids then this would be a really good option. Definitely haze resistant! 😉

GIVEAWAY

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The kind folks from ZooMoo will be giving away a ZooMoo Gift Pack to 1 lucky reader of Jahbella.net

And our winner of the ZooMoo Giveaway is Sandra New!!!!! Congrats Sandra! We will be contacting you shortly for your details. 🙂

To join the giveaway, just complete all the steps below.

The giveaway will end on 6 October 2015 2359hrs.

Terms & Conditions:
1) Contest ends on 6 October 2015 2359hrs (Singapore timezone).
2) This contest is opened to Singapore addressees only.
3) Limited to one winner per household.
4) Winners will be announced on Jahbella.net and we reserve the right to select another winner if the selected winner does not reply within 24 hours. Particulars of the winner will be given to the sponsor for the purpose of sending out the prize.

Good luck!

JahBella’s Mummy

Beach Day Out to Lazarus Island

If there is one type of activity that Jah and Bella really enjoy, it would involve lots of sand play and splashing around in the water. However we haven’t exactly been able to find an activity that allowed them to do both at the same time (save for the Port of Lost Wonder). So needless to say, I was really excited to learn that they could possibly be able to enjoy some sand play and be able to swim in a nice little lagoon at Lazarus Island and all we needed to do was take a 30 minute ferry ride over.

Ok well sort of, this ‘expedition’ was going to take abit more effort than just a 30 minute ferry ride.

We chose to head over on a Public Holiday as there were more ferry timings offered. We had to wake up bright and early to ensure that we could catch the 9am ferry from Marina South Pier. I guess you can say that we were quite fortunate that there was quite a demand for the ferry that day so the ferry company decided to launch more than 1 ferry during that 9am slot. This meant that we were still able to purchase our tickets when we got there at 845am.

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While there was a “Provision/ Convenience” shop at the Ferry Terminal, we came prepared with our Nasi Lemak, Snacks and Cooler bag of drinks. This is absolutely necessary because there are no shops on the island and we had planned to stay on till 150pm. (The ferry departs every 2 hourly on the weekends and Public Holiday).

Bella enjoying the view from the ferry

Bella enjoying the view from the ferry

The ferry ride was fairly comfortable and quick and we were at St John’s Island before we knew it. Yes you read correctly, we disembarked the ferry at St John’s Island even though we were headed to Lazarus Island. The only way to get to Lazarus Island is either by a link bridge (20 mins walk) from St John Island’s jetty or by hiring a private boat/ yacht to take you there.

Upon reaching St John’s Island, it was tempting to just stop at the nearest beach/ lagoon. After all, it was just next to the jetty, had abundant benches and a wide canopy of shelter. However we decided to go the whole 9 yards and persevere. We headed left from the jetty and commenced our 20 minute morning stroll towards Lazarus Island.

Turn left upon reaching the jetty and you will see a long sheltered path leading to a breakwater/ 'bridge'

Turn left upon reaching the jetty and you will see a long sheltered path leading to a breakwater/ ‘bridge’

The long unsheltered 'bridge that links St John's Island to Lazarus Island

The long unsheltered ‘bridge that links St John’s Island to Lazarus Island

An early morning stroll is pretty easy and fun

An early morning stroll is pretty easy and fun

Safe enough for Jah to venture ahead of us and also tons of people fishing along the side of the 'bridge'

Safe enough for Jah to venture ahead of us and also tons of people fishing along the side of the ‘bridge’

Keep walking and you will eventually come to a clearing on the right that looks like this...

Keep walking and you will eventually come to a clearing on the right that looks like this…

The beach was pretty empty when we got there at about 10am except for 2-3 families and we managed to score a spot under 1 of the 2 only trees they had on that beach. Watch out for the big red ants though! Honestly apart from needing that spot to set up shop and have a quick bite, you will be spending most of your time in the water. I know we did!

The kids loved the clear green water and while it might not be ‘international’ standards, it was by far the best I have seen in a long long time! The adults were reminiscing about how we used to swim in the East Coast waters 20 to 25 years ago and even this was cleaner that what we had back then. The kids alternated between playing with the sand and just soaking in the nice little lagoon until all of us were all wrinkly.

Shallow clear waters

Shallow clear waters

Time to relax...

Time to relax…

Even Miss Scaredy Cat eventually succumb to the cool clear water

Even Miss Scaredy Cat eventually succumb to the cool clear water

Sand!!!

Sand!!!

Sand play before the private yachts started to pepper the waters

Sand play before the private yachts started to pepper the waters

The crowd started coming in on the 2nd ferry (11am) and the private yachts started turning up 300m away from the shoreline as well. It was honestly a little annoying when they started whipping out the jet skis and what not, but well we tried to ignore all that and just enjoy the moment.

The slight downer to our trip was the fact that the rain clouds turned up and brought the storm in from the sea about 30 minutes before we were ready to pack up for our ferry. 😦 Thank goodness for the fact that I had packed in our raincoats (I know! Who brings raincoats to the beach right? Haha). And the fact that Jah and Bella had such a sporty Uncle and Aunty who just rolled with the punches and used the picnic mat as a makeshift ‘umbrella’.

It really started to pour as we headed back on the 'bridge' or maybe because we were kind of in the middle of 'nowhere'

It really started to pour as we headed back on the ‘bridge’ or maybe because we were kind of in the middle of ‘nowhere’

Honestly the rain wasn’t that much of a downer in my opinion because we got to enjoy a really awesome sunny morning and it was kind of fun for the kids to walk in the rain in their raincoats. Joel and I were also extremely impressed by the little troopers especially Jah who clearly was feeling really cold and tired but never whined and never gave up. He only requested to stop once when he spotted shelter because he was hungry and wanted a cookie. We stopped and he immediately shouted “ok lets go!” after he finished his last bite. Love the boy to bits!

Jah stopping for a quick cookie to warm up

Jah stopping for a quick cookie to warm up

The little trooper frog

The little trooper frog

Before embarking on this trip, Joel was alittle concerned about the lack of toilets or changing facilities but honestly it is do-able with abit of planning. Kids are easy enough to change in full sight of everyone and while we adults figured a way to change, I reckon it would have easily been ok even if we didn’t. The 20 minutes walk back in the sun would have dried all of us up, that is of course unless you faced a rainy end to the day like us.

Probably would have dried up by this point if not for the rain (almost at the jetty)

Probably would have dried up by this point if not for the rain (almost at the jetty)

Keeping warm in the ferry with blankets that JahBella's uncle brought...yes who brings blankets to a picnic right?

Keeping warm in the ferry with blankets that JahBella’s uncle brought…yes who brings blankets to a picnic right?

We would head back there in a heart beat and this time we would be even better prepared than the last. Definitely a place to bring the whole ‘kampong’ to spend a nice morning out. Oh and if your kids still have the energy after the beach, you can even stop over at Kusu Island which is the ferry stop before the ferry takes you back to Singapore. 🙂

Sharing a moment once we got back to mainland Singapore

Sharing a moment once we got back to mainland Singapore

JahBella’s Mummy

JahBella @ the Singapore Zoo – Should we renew our membership?

We have had our Singapore Zoo Family Annual Membership for almost 2 years now and we are starting to wonder if we should renew it for the 3rd consecutive run. After all we seem to be using it a lot less in recent times and how many times can a kid visit the zoo right?

So we decided to head to the zoo for ‘one last time’ before our annual membership ends in 2 weeks time and see if the zoo still holds the same appeal for the kids.

Since we forgot our umbrella strollers and neither parent was in the mood to carry a 13-15kg child in this hot weather, the kids were in for a treat! We rented a little wagon for them to enjoy their ‘ride’ through the zoo. The wagon could fit two kids comfortably and it cost S$15 for a full day rental. We were there for about 2 hours but it was still good fun and better than dragging tired kids around.

Did we really succeed in getting everyone to  look at the camera and smile?!!!!

Did we really succeed in getting everyone to look at the camera and smile?!!!!

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We visited the Koala Enclosure which was all the craze over the June School Holidays. There was a sign outside which informed us of the estimated wait (20 mins according to the sign) but we only waited 10 mins. I loved it! (for the aircon! :p) The kids were curious about the koalas for all of 5 minutes and then Jah wanted to go for the Elephant show. (To be fair, Bella was alittle more ‘nurturing’ and liked the little bears abit more.)

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Now the Elephant show, yes the ever elusive Elephant Show! We have been to the zoo countless times over the past 2 years but no we have not caught the Elephant show. In fact we have seen all the shows and even some shows twice or thrice but we always can’t seem to get to this one on time. However getting to the Elephant show and ensuring that we had a seat for everyone, meant that we had to forgo the giraffe feeding and the Animal Show at the Kids area). In fact we almost didn’t get a seat because the seating is really limited and it runs out so quickly.

Surprisingly the kids were ok with waiting 30 minutes for the show to begin and it was pretty fun. Jah apparently wants to come back for the Elephant show again the next time. But someone probably has to remind him that that means no giraffe feedings and what not.

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After grabbing our customary Fanta Slushies in the special tall bottles, we were off for lunch. One of the reasons, I don’t fancy coming to the zoo is because I always have trouble figuring out how to feed the kids after. The choice of F&B or lack of really bugs me because there is so much potential and space here but so little ideas. I absolutely hate having to eat KFC everytime we come to the zoo and they don’t even have the breakfast options available. 😦

So I was quite excited relieved to find out that they had open a few new F&B outlets at the entrance of the zoo. This meant variety as well as a fast exit to the car after lunch. We decided to try out Chawang Café which served pasta, fish and chips and a few varieties of hotdog buns. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and the speed of the service.  That being said, I wished they had some options for the kids or at least a kid sized portion. (Side note: I would go for the hotdog buns over the fish and chips which Jah rejected because he didn’t like the ‘oily’ taste’. The hotdog buns were pretty decent with their different toppings and sauces).

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So will JahBella be renewing their Annual Family Membership for the consecutive run? At less than S$200 per annum for a family of 4, we will have to go to the zoo at least twice in the year to make it worth our while/ money. I say why not! After all the kids do love the Singapore Zoo and we do have one of the best zoos in the world don’t we? 🙂

JahBella’s Mummy

Carnival Fun @ City Square – Good Ole Fun In The Park [Media Invite]

We recently visited City Square Mall again so that the kids could try out some of the rides at its Good Ole Fun In the Park Carnival. Honestly we have been spending quite a lot of time at this mall, given that one of Jah’s favourite shop is at this mall (haha care to guess which one? :p)

The kids especially Jah was ecstatic when I told him we were going to a carnival. I’m not quite sure what he really imagines a carnival to be like but I suppose the word carnival just appeals to him. He was also really excited to know there would be bumper cars as well and insisted that that was THE ride for him.
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However that all changed when we got there and mummy ended up on the teacup ride with both kids. Don’t laugh! The teacup ride was quite high on the dizzy factor but we all enjoyed it! Do note though that they don’t exactly allow an accompanying adult to go for free and so the adult also has to pay for a ticket. Not sure about the other rides though but that was what happened for the tea cup ride.
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Jah was tempted to try mummy’s favourite childhood carnival ride, the pirate ship but he was a little put off by the genuine screams of the little ones. 🙂 Maybe next time..
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Highlight of the day for everyone was the Choo Choo Train ride..the ride that would go round the City Green thrice. The kids loved it when the train driver would honk at people to get out of the way. The last time we took this train, it was around Christmas and Bella was still a little clueless at 18 months old. But she throughly enjoyed herself this time around. While it was definitely a squeeze for the 4 of us to fit into that little coal car, it was really good fun and you can see from all our happy faces. 🙂
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So if you would like to bring your kids down for some good ole carnival fun, head on down to City Green (in front of City Square Mall).
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Good Ole Fun In The Park
Date: 29 May to 28 June
Time: 6pm – 10pm (Mon – Fri); 12pm – 10pm (Sat, Sun & P.H.)
Venue: Level 1 City Green park
Enjoy!
JahBella’s Mummy