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…

Where to Stay with Kids in Tokyo [Hilton Tokyo Bay Review]

After the tough decision of having to decide which flight configuration and flight timing would work for us, I had another dilemma looming in the horizon..where to stay in Tokyo?

Here are some of the options we had and the rationale/ pros and cons behind each one.

  • Stay at a Disney Hotel for 11 days.

🙂 Minimize the need to move hotels and keep us really close to Disney on the 4 days we were intending to visit (perfect for going back for afternoon naps!)

😦 Visiting Tokyo on the other 7 days would be a hassle, with multiple train stops and at least 45 minutes travel time each way.

  • Stay at a Disney Hotel for half our trip and move to a city hotel for the other half.

🙂 Minimise travel time on a day to day basis

😦 Lose one entire day when we change hotels and we would have to visit Disney over a weekend and battle the crowds. [Read about our tips to surviving Disneyland Tokyo with kids]

  • Stay at a City hotel for 11 days

🙂 Easy travel for most part of our 11 day holiday

😦 Almost impossible to go back for afternoon naps on our 4 Days at Disneyland and lose out on a lot of the Disney experience

So which would you have chosen?:)

We eventually chose Option 1 which I know is probably not the most popular choice but we really cherish our naptimes :p (well rested kids = happy kids = happy parents) So yes we chose to struggle on most days and manage our itinerary within means.

We ended up booking a room at Hilton Tokyo Bay which although is not an Official Disney Hotel (The Disney hotels are connected to either Disneyland or Disney Sea) but it was fairly well-connected by a monorail line which served the Disney area (think our local LRT).

The hotel provided a free shuttle service to the nearby Bayside monorail station. We would usually take the shuttle bus to and from Bayside except at night when it tends to get really crowded. For those peak times, we would opt to take a nice slow 5 minutes stroll to our hotel.

Disney Shuttle to Bayside Station from our hotel

Disney Shuttle to Bayside Station from our hotel

With Mickey design and interior

With Mickey design and interior

Jah enjoying his front row seat everytime we took the Disney shuttle

Jah enjoying his front row seat everytime we took the Disney shuttle

Bayside monorail station would bring you to 3 other stations – Disneyland station, Disney Sea station and the main Maihama Station which would connect you to the greater Metro lines. The monorail takes about 15 minutes to complete an entire loop so it was really convenient and fast!

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We bought a 3 day monorail pass which gave us unlimited rides (only adults need to pay)

The Disney monorail

The Disney monorail

Enjoying the view of Disneysea while enroute to Disneyland

Enjoying the view of Disneysea while enroute to Disneyland

All smiles for Disney!

All smiles for Disney!

The hotel also provided a direct shuttle service to Maihama Station for those who are heading out to the city. This was how we travelled out to the city on the other 7 days. This is also where you would find Ikispiari Mall, where we settled a lot of our meals when we were not heading out to the city.

Maihama Station

Maihama Station

The Hilton Tokyo Bay had several room types – 1 of which was the Happy Magic Room. The Happy Magic rooms are situated on their own level which was decorated in a Magic Forest Theme. It was a real treat for the kids and they would ‘greet’ the little dragon 3D holograms found near our lift lobby every time we took the lift.

The room we had was really awesome for 3 main reasons. The room was HUGE compared to many of the city hotels in Tokyo and honestly even Singapore!!! Yes, we had 3 queen sized beds put side by side and so we didn’t have to squeeze or worry about rolling off the bed. There was also ample playing space for the kids and our huge suitcases.

Huge Happy Magic Room!

Huge Happy Magic Room!

Wondering what to do with themselves in this big room

Wondering what to do with themselves in this big room

There were little tricks in the room to entertain the kids, like a magic mirror and a giant key to unleash the ‘magic’.

Magic Mirror and his princess friend

Magic Mirror and his princess friend

We also enjoyed our 180 degree sea view which offered us a glimpse of Mount Fuji on a nice clear day.

Brother and sister enjoying their seaview in the mornings

Brother and sister enjoying their seaview in the mornings

View of Mount Fuji from our room

View of Mount Fuji from our room

While the hotel does not offer room service, it does have a well-stocked convenience store where we would purchase our daily beverage and snacks replenishment. They also have a take-away deli which sells hot food, pastries and desserts, and they offer room delivery for an additional 20% charge. This was how we settled our dinner upon arrival and the food was pretty decent (tasty spaghetti bolognaise, curry rice, kiddy bento). The photo doesn’t do the food justice because I was too famished to take a good shot :p We ordered from the deli every time we were too lazy to eat out and the kids even requested to go back to the hotel for the deli food on a few occasion. 🙂

Well-stocked minimart at our hotel

Well-stocked minimart at our hotel

Our hot food upon arrival..takeaway from their Deli

Our hot food upon arrival..takeaway from their Deli

While it was really quite a hassle to travel out to the city from the hotel (for 7 days!!) Reality was a lot tougher than what I imagined in my head :p That being said, I would definitely still choose to stay at this hotel, the next time we visit Tokyo Disneyland (unless of course we decide to stay at the Official Disney Hotel 😉 )

The Hilton Tokyo Bay is a real value for money hotel especially if you book early..:) (Think $300 a night vs $900 a night!) It is after all a Hilton right?

JahBella’s Mummy

JahBella’s Flight to Tokyo (Our take on what flights work for toddlers/ kids)

We finally took our long waited holiday (planned almost a year in advance) to Tokyo with Jah and Bella. It was a holiday which we were very much looking forward to but at the same time really nervous about. After all it would be the first time we would be travelling as a family of 4 (with no help), travelling to a city we have never been to before (all our previous trips were to familiar places), taking our longest flight yet (8 hours compared to the previous 5 hours to Perth) and having the two kids nap and sleep in the same room for 11 days (we have never ever succeeded in having them nap in the same room EVER!!!!) Yes so alittle nervous would be an understatement..I wonder what ever propelled me to even attempt it. 😛

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All set!

All set!

So of course the first hurdle to cross would be enduring that 8 hour flight with 2 kids.! Honestly I wasn’t really worried about dealing with Jah, he is getting pretty good with this whole airplane thing and I was even contemplating doing without our CARES Harness for him. But Bella…oh Bella is a whole different deal…we don’t call her Miss Ants-in-her-pants for nothing.

Miss Ants-in-her-pants...thank goodness she was only annoying the people behind her...Jah and I!

Miss Ants-in-her-pants…thank goodness she was only annoying the people behind her…Jah and I!

Planning this trip a year in advance left us with a lot of time to second doubt our decisions. We went back and forth with our choice of airline as well as the aircraft configuration and flight timings. Yes lots of thought went into choosing the PERFECT flight and while I would say it definitely wasn’t perfect…we learnt quite abit from our choices.

AIRLINE

We had a choice between Singapore Airlines (SQ), All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JL). We eventually chose ANA because we wanted to experience their Dreamliners (supposed quieter cabins, ambient lighting and supposed better cabin pressure), coupled with the fact that their aircraft configuration was 2-4-2 which allowed us to take 2 seats each by the window. That benefit was eventually non-existent because ANA changed their configuration to 3-3-3 (packing in 1 more seat into their Dreamliners :/) Which meant that there was a high chance that we would be seated next to a stranger on an 8 hour flight 😦

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Drealimer Economy Class

We were fortunate to snag a last row seat for Jah and I, which was a 2 seater and prayed very hard for Joel and Bella to have an empty seat next to them.

Jah and I had our last row 2 seater

Jah and I had our last row 2 seater

3-3-3 Config..fortunately Bella and Joel had a free seat next to them on this flight..

3-3-3 Config..fortunately Bella and Joel had a free seat next to them on this flight..not so lucky on the way back!

So how did our flight on ANA go? Joel and I had pretty different takes on it. He was really impressed by the service on ANA. He felt that it was personal without being intrusive and that the cabin crew were very ‘sincere’ and understanding when it came to their little passengers. However the food left much to be desired and I would have to agree with that.

Kids Meal

Kids Meal

Adult's Meal

Adult’s Meal

I was perhaps a little pickier than him and felt that the meal service was rather messy. I was pretty used to having the kids served first on planes so that the parents can feed them and then attend to themselves later when the kids are fed and happy to continue with their activity. However there was no such thing on ANA and we were all served at the same time. Seems like a small deal but trust me it makes a big difference to a mother trying to multi-task her kid, his food, her food, turbulence, the inflight entertainment system, blankets, pillows and seatbelts. :p That being said, the flight was relatively comfortable and all the complaints I read online about the seats being really uncomfortable because they were shell-scheme seats, well didn’t bother us. I have to say I love the ambient lighting and the fact that you can fade out the window (this meant Jah could still look out the window but we didn’t have to put up with the glare). The big spacious toilets with baby facilities were also fantastic and very well-equipped and comfortable for cleaning up the toddlers and even little kids. The window in the toilets also served as a distraction for them. :p

FLIGHT TIMINGS

So what flight timing works for toddlers and little kids you ask? Well it really depends on your kids. I know of some people who swear by red eye flights so that they get in bright and early and don’t waste a day or have to cope with wide awake kids on the flight.

We tried both types (the full day flight and the red eye flight) on this trip, for reasons that we thought were perfect. The full day flight got us into Tokyo at 7pm, in time for a nice shower and a good night’s rest before we start the day fresh. I can tell you now that the choice of a full day flight at the start of our holiday was the right one for us! We departed Singapore at 10am which meant we only had to deal with the kids for about 2 to 3 hours before they were due for their nap. We were very fortunate that they napped! Both of them! (I have a distant memory of my kids going mad on their Perth flight because they refused to nap and were high and over-stimulated from the lack of sleep..oh that distant memory….)

Awesome! 1 napping kid!

Awesome! 1 napping kid!

2nd kid napping!! This was after I successfully transferred her from my carrier to the plane seat..

2nd kid napping!! This was after I successfully transferred her from my carrier to the plane seat..

They finally woke at about 4 to 5pm (yes they slept for 3 hours!!!! I couldn’t believe it myself!!) and this meant we only had to deal with them for another 2 hours before it was time to land! So yes awesome flight choice!

Remember to bring lots of activities to keep them occupied!

Remember to bring lots of activities to keep them occupied!

We contemplated having a full day flight for our return flight but that would mean being at the airport by 9am. Perfectly do-able if we were coming from home but just too stressful a task coming off a holiday so we decided to take the red-eye flight. This gave us a full day in Tokyo with enough time for a good dinner and kids who are showered and ready for ‘bed’ on the flight. Perfect in theory for us but not so perfect in execution. We definitely appreciated the full day in Tokyo but because our flight only departed at midnight. The kids had to be up and about in the airport till that time. Bella fell asleep in her carrier from 10pm to 12 midnight and then was wide awake once we were onboard the flight. OMG! I was fortunate that at least 1 child slept (Jah slept from 1230am to 5am) and only woke because the lights came on for breakfast. We struggled with Bella and only got her to sleep momentarily. The upside to having the red eye on the return is the fact that at least we were on homeground, with two zombie-fied parents dealing with a cranky toddler and a super re-charged kid.

VERDICT

If you asked us whether we would attempt such a trip again? The answer would be yes yes yes!!! The frustrations and crankiness all become a distant memory soon enough and you know what they say..what doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger! We will probably just avoid any red eye flight options for now. :p

Stay Tuned for more posts on what we did on our Tokyo Trip with JahBella!

Stay tuned for more Tokyo Adventures!

Stay tuned for more Tokyo Adventures!

JahBella’s Mummy

Penang Holiday (Oct 2014) – Adventure Zone

Adventure Zone was initially meant to be a back-up activity in case it rained during our time in Penang.  How could we let good sunny days go to waste, after all we were staying at a hotel with fantastic pool facilities and a nice beach right in front of us. However the kids got alittle bored of swimming everyday and so we had to bring in our stand-by activity.

Adventure zone is a facility with drop slides and play equipments for the whole family.  There were slides available for all ages and also for those with little dare devil children (I didn’t know mine were until then). For those who are considering to go to Adventure Zone, please bring along socks, long pants and a long sleeve top , this is to help prevent ‘burns’ when coming down the slides and they are really strict on the dress code.

I know my kids look like they are on a winter holiday

I know my kids look like they are on a winter holiday

It is located within the grounds of the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Golden Sands Resort so it is ultra convenient for families staying there. It is  a 3 minute cab ride away from Hard Rock Penang.  The good thing about the place is the fact that adults need not pay if they were accompanying a paying child.

Upon entering the facility, you will find lockers for you to keep your belongings and a small café area for the kids to take a break or for parents of older children to ‘hang out’. The café area has an unblocked view of all the slides so that you can keep a watch on your kids from where you are. It is also located right next to the toddler play area which is very convenient.

Toddler Play Area (Separate from the big play area and slides)

Toddler Play Area (Separate from the big play area and slides)

We spent alittle bit of time at the toddler play area for Jah and Bella to warm up but they really didn’t need much of that. I think all our indoor playground sessions in Singapore made them a little more adventurous. :p

We initially rode tandem with Jah and Bella on the ‘gurney sack’ slide but it wasn’t long before Jah wanted to go on his own and we were coming down the slide, side by side. The only downside of him having so much fun and wanting to go again and again, was the fact that I had to repeatedly climb up the long flight of stairs for 3 seconds of ‘thrill’.

Whee! It was quite fast!

Whee! It was quite fast!

Thank goodness there were other areas for them to explore and Jah and Bella occupied themselves with climbing up ramps and across ‘bridges’.

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Miss Dare Devil Bella

Miss Dare Devil Bella

We were there for almost 2 hours and in that 2 hours, Jah had silently worked up the courage to attempt one of the vertical slides. I never knew this boy was so fearless. I have to say that it was probably easier for him to attempt it since I was lowering him down the side whereas other kids and adults (like myself) had to sit on the ledge and well push ourselves off the ledge. Scary stuff!! (And it wasn’t even their scariest slide).

The scariest slide of the lot...

The scariest slide of the lot…we didn’t try it

My little fearless boy looked like a rag doll coming down the slide and he was so disoriented after landing in the ball pit that he wasn’t quite sure where to go but 30 seconds later, he wanted to go again!

I have to say that we didn’t really expect much from Adventure Zone but I guess sometimes all you need are a few slides and a dose of courage! We will be back the next time we are in Penang for sure!

JahBella’s Mummy

Royal Caribbean – Mariner of the Seas – JahBella Part 5 (Johnny Rockets and Fisher Price Toys)

After our little ice-skating adventure, we decided that it was time to eat (AGAIN!) Yes, I think our helper wanted to faint from the frequency and size of our meals on the cruise. We didn’t head to the usual lunch spots like Main Dining Room and Windjammers for our lunches onboard so I will not be able to attest to the quality and menu there. However if like me, you have kids who can survive on fries alone and don’t mind a chocolate milkshake or ice-cream ;P then Johnny Rockets would be the place for them (and you). We went there for all our day meals and those meals were perfect for a nap after. At Johnny Rockets, you basically pay a flat fee of $5 per adult and get to order anything from their menu. Items on their menu include burgers, fries with different toppings and desserts. Beverages are charged separately but that didn’t stop us from purchasing their yummy milkshake. As Joel and I were on the drinks package, our beers and soft drinks were covered and our yummy milkshakes were 1 for 1, for Crown and Anchor Society members. Super duper yummy!!! Jah was also introduced to the smiley face ketchup at Johnny Rockets where they asked if he wanted ketchup and they would draw a smiley face on a plate with ketchup. He started asking for a smiley face at every meal after that (the staff always obliged :p). Thank goodness he hasn’t asked for it since we got back. Johnny Rockets is the perfect place for some casual American dining plus a little entertainment from the dancing staff. 🙂

Burgers are awesome!

Burgers are awesome!

Yes super awesome!

Yes super awesome!

Performance!

Performance!

Just around the corner from Johnny Rockets, you would also find the Babies Club for little ones from 6 months to 36 months. Babysitting services are offered there and we saw that some parents had avail themselves to this paid service. We, on the other hand visited the Club for an entirely different reason. The Club also offered a toy rental service for kids below 3 years of age. You are allowed to take ‘home’ to your cabin, 1 set of Fisher Price toys which you can either choose to keep for the entire length of your stay or return the next day and exchange for another set of toys. As these toys are available on a first come first serve basis, we would recommend you hop over early to select your toys. When we got there at 8pm on the first night, most toys were already taken up and we were very fortunate to have found something that Jah liked. We almost had a meltdown when he realized there were no more cars or train related sets. The Fisher Price toys were pretty fun and came in very handy in keeping the kids occupied in the room. Now if only our kids could be occupied with just one toy at home. Apparently kids understand the concept of making do and making the best of it. :p

Playtime!

Playtime!

I have to say that this toy rental service came in very handy for us during our first cruise trip with Jah and now even more so with two kids. No more lugging toys on holidays to keep them occupied! Although I will probably have to figure something else out once they both of them hit the 4 year old mark….

JahBella’s Mummy