Sunday, May 18, 2014

5 Parent and Kid-Approved Restaurants in Manila

Choosing where to dine is a challenging chore when you have young kids. More often than not, our choice springs from the availability of an inevitable piece of equipment that will define a peaceful meal from an utterly chaotic one. Yes, I'm talking about none other than the glorious high chair! 

The sad news is, not all restaurants here in the Philippines are exactly kid-friendly. And I don't just mean the unavailability or lack of high chairs. Some establishments sometimes make parents with young kids feel unwelcome, they might as well have a sign outside that says, "No Kids Allowed." Harsh, but true.

I don't blame why most families resort to fast food restaurants. Aside from having enough high chairs, their service is fast, their menu is kid-friendly and their prices are affordable.  But there must be some restaurant options that will make both the parents and kids happy, right? Well, you can take it from me (the foodie), my husband (the hearty-eater) and our 2-year old (the boss).  Here are our top 5 picks of parent and kid-approve restos:

1. YABU

Why We Love It

How can anyone not love Yabu? Their classic Katsu sets (panko-breaded chicken/ US Pork fillet and deep fried to perfection) are simply to die for. It comes with Japanese pickles, a bowl of fruit, unlimited cabbage salad, unlimited miso soup and unlimited rice. 

My husband usually orders the Rosu Katsudon Set (P345), while I order the large Chicken Katsu Set 180g. (P375), which I share with my son Caleb.  He loves the tender chicken with the katsu sauce!  Because they serve a complete meal (with unlimited servings for the salad, soup and rice), their prices are reasonable and you get value for your money.


Chicken Katsu Set (180 g.) - about 7 thick strips of Katsu perfection!




Kid +pLus Factors 

Service in Yabu always exceeds our expectation. Servers are very courteous and attentive. They know who their regular customers are but they also make new customers feel very welcome. Waiting time is also not too long (maybe 10-15 minutes) if the restaurant is not too busy. Aside from the fact that they have enough high chairs, they also have activity kits for kids (crayons and coloring pads). Our son however, keeps himself entertained while waiting for our food by playing mix the sesame seeds.



2.  STACY'S

Why We Love It

Who does not crave for good old comfort food? Stacy's menu offers a variety of food that brings back memories of your childhood and satisfies your usual cravings.  
The restaurant interiors exude a fresh and homey vibe. The pastel colors and country home decor look girly girly, but they also make kids feel at home. As for my husband, he cares about the food and Stacy's surely did not disappoint. The food is presented in a way that it's too lovely to eat, but also irresistible not to eat. Quantity is hefty so Caleb and I can again share. Prices are also easy on the wallet, it could well be your usual lunch place.


Soft pastel colors and interesting mix of vintage ornaments give a cozy country home atmosphere

Granny's Picnic Bowl (P210)- Scrumptious Chicken and Pork Adobo done two ways served with fluffly scrambled eggs and mango tomato salsa 

Potato Chip Fried Chicken (P180) I just couldn't resist! 2 of my fave comfort foods in one perfect crunchy bite
My man needs his meat! Texas Barbeque Ribs (P210) So flavorful and tender

Kid +pLus Factors

While waiting for your orders, their friendly staff will serve you a mug of delightful munchies - butter popcorn with marshmallows and strawberry flavored pretzels 




Stacy's doesn't just have available high chairs for kids. Since the restaurant is owned by fabulous moms, the concept of Stacy's was created with families and kids in mind. They have a small play area for young kids to enjoy. When I did not have a helper, I would actually bring Caleb here for meetings and appointments so he can keep himself busy while mommy tried to get some work done.  



3.  PANCAKE HOUSE

Why We Love It

Busy moms like me have a gazillion errands to run every week. When time is of the essence and a decent meal is a luxury, there's that one place I always run to to breathe and refuel.  

Pancake House is the closest you can get to the quick service and convenience of fast foods. Their restaurants are conveniently located inside malls (where the bank, hardware, repair shops, supermarket are). Their restaurants are not too crowded so I can fit in my usual cargo (i.e. Caleb's stroller). Their menu offers a variety of choices from breakfast, lunch, dinner and light snacks.

On days I'm in the mall with Caleb, it is the perfect place to grab a quick lunch for 1 1/2 pax because their serving portions are just enough for us. My usual default order is their Pan Chicken (P186) with buttery gravy! For me, this is my most favorite fried chicken here in the Philippines. It's cooked perfectly, there's not too much breading, not too salty and the gravy tastes homemade and not commercial. Simply yum! We also love that they serve all-day Filipino Breakfast - Beef Tapa (P240) and the  Smoked Golden Tinapa (P246).  The best part is, Pancake House gives you a bang for your buck! For P186 you can already enjoy a satisfying meal.

Kid +pLus Factors

Pancake House has a Kid's Menu that offers classic favorites like mini pancakes served plain, with fruits or with chocolate-covered bites, corn dog, Mac N' Cheese, 2 piece Pan Chicken and the Pancake House Spaghetti. Caleb's favorite is the spaghetti, of course! He can finish an entire serving including the 2 slices of crunchy garlic bread.




Pancake House Pan Chicken, 2 pieces  (P186)

Pancake House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Regular (P175)

4.  UNCLE CHEFFY


Why We Love It

I have 3 words about Uncle Cheffy.. Value For Money. Uncle Cheffy is a family restaurant that offers satisfying and reasonably-priced food. You can order either Medium (good for 2-3 persons) or Family (Good For 3-4 persons) from their menu. One of our favorites is the Pork Ribs Barbeque, served with a generous bowl of yellow rice. The 500g. size is only  for P300 and is more than enough for 2 persons. The meat is so tender, our little boy did not have problems chewing the meat. It is smothered with barbeque sauce that has the right blend of sweet and tangy.  

Uncle Cheffy also boasts itself for having the best brick oven Panizza. If you have Cronut, you also have Panizza which is a combination of pizza and panini.  It is essentially a thin rectangular shaped pizza that is cut in small strips. You top each slice with arugula, alfalfa sprouts and tomato salsa before rolling.  

Kid +pLus Factors

Uncle Cheffy has become quite popular among dining families. And why would they not be? Their service is fast and they serve food that both kids and adults enjoy. Their staff is attentive to the needs of their customers and they are have always been kind to accommodate our requests.   


Pork Barbeque Ribs, 500g. (P300)


Uncle Cheffy Favorite Panniza, Family Size (P395) 

5. COOKBOOK KITCHEN


Why We Love It

My husband Randy first introduced me to this restaurant. He was so excited for me to try out this place because he found the food really flavorful.  When I first got a hold of the menu, I was so excited to try everything! They have a good mix of both popular and unconventional choices from appetizer, soup, salad, entree to dessert. What I especially love is that they have a quite an extensive line up of fish entrees which is reasonably-priced! Their serving portions is big enough to share for 2 to 3 persons so it's perfect for us because we always want to taste and share everything we order. 

For Caleb, we ordered the Pomodoro Pasta (P220) which he loved very much! I was quite surprised because normally he only likes to eat Spaghetti noodles. I like one of their specialties, the Parmesan Crusted White Fish (P320). It is blended with herbs, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and guess what! It's baked!  Healthy and delicious! Randy's favorite is the Onion Glazed Twin Pork Chops (P300) - 2 pieces of herbed and grilled porkchops then glazed with light soy sauce and topped with sauteed onions.

Pomodoro Fusilli Pasta with Ciabatta bread (P220) 

Onion Glazed Twin Porkchops (P300)

Parmesan Crusted Fish (P320)

Kid +pLus Factors

At first glance, one would not think that Cookbook Kitchen would actually be a kid-friendly restaurant. But we were very happy that they had a nice and comfortable wooden high chair for Caleb. Our server was also ready with a mug of crayons and activity sheet for our little boy. 

The real plus factor for Cookbook Kitchen is their tasty food. Not only did Caleb enjoy the Pomodoro Pasta, he also liked the Parmesan Crusted Fish.  We are also pleased that the servers were very polite and friendly. Cookbook Kitchen is really a winner and a restaurant that we would be glad to recommend to friends.




Lunch dates with my loves are always the best!

There you have it, our 5 favorite parent and kid-approved restaurants. Hope you get to try them and enjoy the food as much as we did!  



Restaurants:

Yabu - branches in SM Megamall, Robinsons Magnolia, SM Mall of Asia, SM Southmall, Glorietta and SM Aura Premier

Stacy's - 2 branches is Capitol Hills, QC and Rizal Drive BGC, Taguig

Pancake House - branches nationwide

Uncle Cheffy - several branches in Manila including Eastwood City, Venice Piazza and Burgos Circle BGC

Cookbook Kitchen -3 branches in Mandaluyong, Pampanga and Eastwood City



Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Power of A Mother

My 2-year old son came up to me pointing to his toe, crying, "owie, owie." I sat him on my lap and tried to comfort him, "What's wrong, sweetheart?" Again pointing to his toe, he demanded me to kiss his owie and make it disappear. "Abra Cadabra, go away big owie!" I playfully chanted. He looked at his toe and said, "owie still there, mommy. Kiss owie more."  I gave in to my puppy biscuit, but to no avail. Finally, I retreated and said, "maybe tomorrow it will get better." He got off from my lap and went back to play with his toys. With just a kiss, mommy took his boo boo away. 

Thoughts of my mom embracing me to sleep after I told her every detail of how this guy broke my heart. I've spent sleepless nights the week before, but that particular night, I slept soundly like a little girl beside her. She did not change what happened, but for me, her presence was all I needed.

How could her listening ears be enough to comfort me? How did I learn to take boo boos away? Did she have some kind of special super power? Did she pass it on to me when I became a mom?

What is it with my mom? What makes me still long for her even now that I'm a mother myself? 

I am just a rookie mom, but the past 2 and a half years has taught me more valuable lessons than all my youthful years combined. Selflessness is one. When you are a mother, your child's need is always a priority. You bear the pain of labor. You get up at 3 am to nurse. You give up stilettos over flats so you can chase your toddler around. You force a smile over that paint-stained new blouse. You rethink about that new luxury bag for a year's supply of diapers. It does not matter how big or small. The inevitable truth is, mothers do not just make sacrifices everyday, they also give a little bit of themselves to make sure we are full.

Mom taught me how to become a better person. She was the first to teach me about what is good and what is bad. I may have not seen it exactly like that then, but now, I truly appreciate everything that I have learned from her. She taught me how to get up when I fall. She praised me for every achievement. She believed that I can. She taught me to pray and have faith in God. And that with Him, nothing is impossible. I wish that I can be half the woman she is. That might be unlikely, but because of her, I am trying to be the best mother and wife I can be.

Perhaps my mom has indeed passed on to me some kind of super power. I can go on and on to tell you what she has done and what she is still doing for me and all of us her grown kids. I know that and I feel that even if we are thousands of miles apart. That power is what makes me long for her. Even if I do not get to see or talk to her everyday, the love she has shown me lingers and stays with me. My mother's love is truly amazing. It is a reflection of God's love for me. It will always draw me to her. It will always move me to pass it on.

My beautiful mom and grandmother to my son Caleb and his cousins Hannah and Kendall