Adventure, baby!


GRUB: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Bishan Park, Singapore

Enjoying outdoor dining at GRUB, located in tranquil Bishan Park


The entire premise of GRUB is: Responsible Ingredients. Inspired Menu. Delicious Food. 
Guess just about everyone knows about Cookyn, a cooking party extravaganza first concocted by Mervyn and Amanda.. which grew to a bonafide successful business owned by multiple partners. Well, it’s the same guys that have opened GRUB.

How did it come about? About 2 years ago, Mervyn and Amanda were in the USA. They saw the plethora of family-friendly, responsible cafes that cooked with real ingredients (that you would use in your own kitchen), at a wallet-friendly price. They and their two friends (and co-owners), Dexter and Kelvin, wanted to do the same in Singapore.

And… ta da! GRUB. Over a year in the making and this gem is now ready for business. It’s located in the beautiful and green Bishan Park (hello gorgeous views) and is a stand-alone cafe that they built from the ground up. It’s SO GORGEOUS. Half outdoor and half indoor, it doesn’t feel like Singapore, but more like Australia when we used to eat at little cafes dotted around a park.


Beautiful ambiance at GRUB


50/50 indoor and outdoor dining. I’ll be frank, it’s way prettier sitting outdoors if the weather permits!




A compact kitchen churning out a ton of great dishes. And lookie – there’s Mervyn himself right there!


Did you know that in most cafes in Singapore and other countries, when you order food like mashed potato, it comes in powder form in a packet???? The cafe simply mixes it with water and voila! There’s your mashed potato.


So happy to learn that at GRUB, they only cook and serve what they would with their own families. That means REAL potatoes, and REAL ingredients. Nothing reconstituted, no preservatives. The headache that the kitchen has is to churn out good food made from FRESH ingredients asap.. but the waiting time is actually not longer than any other cafe.

You can see their menu here.

Eating responsibly


Anyway! A good ‘ol beer to start off! This one was Monteith’s summer ale from New Zealand. I liked it because it tasted more like fizzy ginger ale than beer 😛 Sooo good icy cold.

Hi my name is beer wench


Iced honey lime juice ($2.50), Iced latte ($6) with a bizzarely monster-sized pot of syrup


Random insertion of photos of Carter at GRUB


If you’re a mussel kinda person, you’ll be pretty astounded at how tender and plump these ones are. The Tasmanian mussels and chorizo stew with fries and aioli came in a dish swimming in very nice broth (I wish it was served with some baguette to mop up that tasty broth!).

So here is the thing: I have a relatively big-ish appetite. If I had ordered just this dish, it wouldn’t fill me (this is why I rarely order mussels as my main, unless it’s all-you-can-eat). I pointed this out, and was told that these aren’t the (much cheaper) green-lipped mussels, but blue-lipped mussels air-flown from New Zealand which are a lot more expensive. So this is a case of paying for quality over quantity. But just warning you, if you are a big guy or have a big appetite, you’ll need to order an appetizer as well to fill you up!

Tasmanian mussels and chorizo stew with fries and aioli ($19)


The GRUB cheeseburger with 100% freshly minced beef patty, monterey jack cheese is so cheap for a very solid and good burger. Good value for money. The bun is really nice, so picture-perfect it looked fake! Very fluffy and held together well. I really liked the beef patty – it didn’t have weird bits in it (oh my goodness how I hate it when you bite into a burger and there’s something like part of a horse’s hoof in there) and was juicy and with an excellent more-ish beefy flavour. I enjoyed the fresh lettuce too, which was all uniformly green and crisp. I point this out because sometimes other burger joints serve browned or mushy lettuce which freaks me out.

GRUB cheeseburger with 100% freshly minced beef patty, monterey jack cheese ($11)




I giggled at the hilarious-looking Crispy fish burger with crumbed hake fillet and remoulade. Just look at it! Hahahha!! It’s basically fish & chips, playing hide-and-seek inside a burger bun.

The fish was moist and beautifully crumbed, and the creamy sauce was spot-on. What more can I say? This was good and great value too.

Crispy fish burger with crumbed hake fillet and remoulade ($11)


And……….. THIS.


Beef & Guinness pie with mash and side salad.

I just…..

I can’t even………………..


I mean, just look at this thing:

The STUNNING Beef & Guinness pie with mash and side salad ($12)


Chris and I were speechless when it arrived. This dish, it did NOT look like a beef & guiness pie! We were expecting a regular-looking pie, or perhaps a pot pie. But this…. this was a large disc of puff pastry that was  absolutely sagging under the weight of the big chunks of melty-soft beef, and carrots/potatoes/etc. It was smothered in rich gravy and topped off with gooey mashed potato (made from potatoes in the kitchen, not from a packet!).

It was just insane to see.

It just LOOKED so good!

And I don’t even know how to describe the taste… except just think buttery puff pastry, rich flavourful gravy, and loads and loads of ultra tender braised beef. My goodness. PARTY IN MY MOUTH.

And so their Beef & Guinness Pie is, hands down, A MUST-ORDER DISH. We are most definitely always ordering this baby, and then another main from the menu.


“You get this incredible food, and all I get is a spoon?”


Palate cleanser before dessert, a Monteith’s Radler Bier ($10)


We didn’t have the stomach space to eat our way around their Dessert menu *sadface*. However, we have already tried GRUB’s churros and let’s just say they are splendid. Chris is a churros connoisseur and he really rates these.

But we did order the Belgium waffle with salty caramel, grilled bananas and dark chocolate. Reasonably priced for a nice chunk of fluffy crispy waffle with toppings. It came out… errrrr.. rather messy, though. Like someone in the kitchen had an epileptic fit as they were ‘dressing’ the waffle with the grilled bananas and sauces.

The waffle was deliciously crisp outside yet soft on the inside. It came with a dollop of rich cream, and I LOVED the swirl of fresh salty caramel (ie. not out of a squeeze bottle from the supermarket) – it went so well with the dark chocolate sauce! I actually am not huge on fruit on my desserts but I appreciated that they were grilled bananas and not just plain ‘ol fresh banana slices (sooo boring).

Belgium waffle with salty caramel, grilled bananas and dark chocolate ($8.50)


And so I end this monster review of GRUB. It’s a super duper family-friendly cafe, which gets a major thumbs up from me. I really like the outdoor greenery-all-round vibe of the place, as well as how the ingredients are all fresh and thoughtfully put together (I know very well how Mervyn places so much heart and soul into his craft).

The thing I’m really scratching my head about is how they’ll cope with the crowds. The place is surprisingly small! I can imagine it’s going to be gob-smackingly PACKED on weekends.. since families will love to go there for a casual brunch and let the kids run around in the park. You can add GRUB on Facebook to keep track of events and such, to stay up to date.

GRUB officially throws their doors open on 27 April 2013.


See you there too!


Come and be a grubber/grubette too!


Last Bite: One of the best kid-friendly restaurants in Singapore, offering responsible food for families in the tranquil ambience of Bishan Park.


Highchairs: Yes
Easy access: Yes. Strollers and wheelchairs have a gated side entrance.
Change tables: No
Kids’ menu: No. The premise of the cafe is that kids can eat off the main menu.

Bishan Park
510 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (enter off Sin Ming Ave, opposite Blk 408)
Singapore 569983
Phone: 64595743 (no reservations)
Prices: $$
Hours: Tue-Fri 5:30pm– 10:30pm, Sat-Sun and PH 9:00am–2:30pm 5:30pm–10:30pm


This food review was first published at Beverly’s Adventures!

Singapore’s Top Kid-Friendly Restaurants

You know, cramped joints never used to bug me when I was young, carefree, and single. “How cool!”, I’d think, “It’s so hole-in-the-wall and niche.”

Places like that now completely stump me.

What? No high chair?

What do you mean we have to squeeze together at a too-small table?

So, where’s the area where the kids can run around?

Please oh please, let my waiter be nice and not give me the ol’ stinkeye…

The simple pleasure of dining out gets a tad trickier when you have young children in tow. We’re now pretty picky, particularly because we have a 9-month-old and a 2-year-old.

Places that we love to visit as a family boast the following:

Easy access – I like your cafe. I want to go into your cafe. Why, oh why, must you make it SO DAMN HARD for me to get in?! I’m talking about those evil things called stairs. You know, those sneaky two or three steps lurking at the entrance. WHY? It means I either have to guiltily call a waiter over to give me a hand, or carry the whole stroller up in the most unglam way. While we’re on the topic of strollers, I really appreciate it when I’m given a hand in collapsing the stroller and squirreled away somewhere safe, or, even better, able to have the stroller by my table (never know when the stars align and a kid knocks out for a nap!) if the cafe has the next feature…

Lots of space – ever poked your head into a small cupboard and screamed at the top of your lungs? Similar effect to sticking kids into a confined space. Even worse if there are diners close-by that proceed to turn and give you the you-are-a-crap-mum-and-can’t-control-your-kid STARE. Tops if the eatery has lots of ambient noise/music to… errr… drown out random kiddy noise.

Kid-friendly staff and amenities – oh the relief when you have patient, friendly staff that make the effort to say hi to your kid, instead of giving you the stinkeye. Much appreciated if they proceed to place kids cutlery and a cup of water on the table. Bonus points if they include some paper and crayons! I guess I should also mention here that it makes me want to hyperventilate when I’m told “Oh, we only have one high chair here, which is in use.” You might as well just be done with it and tell me “You’re fine with chasing your kid around the place like a lunatic, while ignoring your meal, right?”

You see, we eat out every single day for lunch. In fact, we’ve dined-out well over 800 times in the past two years for either lunch or dinner, since we relocated to Singapore. What are my fave family eateries? There are the obvious and well-known ones such as:

Food for Thought at Botanic Gardens
Privé at Keppel Island
Rochester Park Cafe
Riders Cafe
The Pantry at Loewen Gardens


But there are also some lesser-known family-friendly cafes that I love:

GRUB at Bishan Park (510 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1) – this family and dog-friendly cafe boasts killer food (it’s helmed by Mervyn Phan of Cookyn Inc), but go early or expect to be wait-listed. That actually isn’t such a bad thing, because it gives you some time to chuck your little ones into the park and let them stretch their legs. They buzz you on your mobile phone when your table is ready and you get to fill all your bellies with fabulous grub at reasonable prices. Their burgers are stunning, ranging from an impressive Fish burger (you’ll know what I mean when you see it!) to a succulent, insanely tender Pork steak burger. If you’re the healthy type, their Pan-seared salmon with risotto and chimichurri is a winner. Their Churros are also hits; the kids will love dipping these fingers of crispy goodness into the creme anglais and dark chocolate sauces!

Get your GRUB on at the tranquil Bishan Park.


Tanjong Beach Club (Sentosa) – if you love your dose of fresh air, water and sunshine, you can’t go wrong with this. Lovely food and great cocktails (with prices to match), but the real draw is the pool which you have full view of if you sit at the outdoor tables. Grab a lounge afterwards (iced water is complimentary!) to relax whilst the kids have a dip, or jump in there yourself to cool off. The ocean is mere steps away if your kids are the sand-and-sea type. Or if you want to take funny pictures of your baby’s expression when their feet touches the sand.

Chilling out at Tanjong Beach Club


Kith Cafe (7 Rodyk Street, #01-33) – outstanding for coffee, if you’re that sort of person that can’t function until they’ve had a shot or three of caffeine in them (I won’t judge). This tiny cafe is mostly el fresco, so come dressed appropriately. Sit by the Singapore River and imagine you’re in some far-flung place instead, with crystal clear waters lapping nearby and the air is crisp and cool. In the meantime, the kids can rummage through the box of toys and books, and play on the toy animals in the mini garden. Very kid-friendly brunch food and a Strawberry yogurt milkshake that is very popular.

Play area by the river at Kith Cafe


Nook DIY House of Pancakes (21 Lorong Kilat, #01-03) – make your kid work for their meal. Nook provides you with a pancake grill, 2 bottles of pancake batter (of your chosen flavours), and 3 toppings. You simply bring your artistic expertise to the table. Squeeze the bottle and make your own pancake! Admire your artwork, or confuse everyone with what it’s actually supposed to be. Go nuts making different shapes and objects, and watch the kids gleefully consume an inhumane amount of DIY pancakes. There are also regular a la carte options but honestly, who would bother with those when you can make your own pancakes?

Delight the kids at Nook DIY House of Pancakes


Spruce at the Old Fire Station (260 Upper Bukit Timah Road) – everyone’s familiar with Spruce at Phoenix Park, but its newer sister at the old (and beautifully restored) fire station is also worth a visit. It boasts high ceilings with excellent natural lighting, cheery and obliging staff, and space for kids to wander around. Better yet, there’s a playroom off the side for kids to amuse themselves in. And on weekends, there is the occasional fair/markets just outside, as well as a fun bouncy castle. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to see a bunch of wild monkeys jumping around in the trees outside!

Fresh ingredients and lots of space make Spruce great for families


This article was first published on Material World.


Singapore, The Highlights

The final destination – Singapore, for our dear friends Beverly and Chris’ wedding.

Arriving in Singapore was quite a shock to the system. It was so hot and humid, it was like swimming through the air to try and get anywhere. In light of the weather, I could see why the national past times are eating and shopping.

We arrived in the evening, had a relaxing night, then spent the next day with the bridal couple for their hens and bucks days.

At the joint brunch in the morning.

Brunch was followed by manicure and pedicures, and then high tea! What a gorgeous day.

The girls – all primped and polished.

The next day, Saturday the 8th, was the big wedding day. I was honored to be asked to be one of Beverly’s “sisters” for the day, which meant we arrived at Bev’s aunt’s house early in the morning to participate in the claiming of the bride ritual, as well as getting to observe the tea ceremony.

The “sisters” plus bride and bridesmaid.

The next part of the day was the church ceremony – Bev looked stunning in her white gown.

Finally married! Massive congrats guys!

The reception was fabulous fun and a great way to end the day. The evening was punctuated with touching slideshows, particularly one from Bev’s parents, which made several of us shed a few tears.

Dressed in our finery.

Bev’s last dress change – stunning in red.

With the gorgeous couple. Love you both – thank you for including us in your beautiful day.

Last Day in Tokyo

So sad that our last day came so quickly. We spend the morning visiting the Tokyo Google office and Alec’s Sysop friends. We had a great time and had some of the Japanese mysteries explained to us. No-one could explain what the mystery slime that kept appearing on our food was however.

We then caught the monorail to Odabia, a man-made island that is an entertainment district. We didn’t have much time so we only went to one place, Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Alec in particular really enjoyed the museum, particularly because of the robots.

The airport was our next stop and then finally home the next morning.

Tokyo – Christine’s Day Out

Today was my turn. We started the day in Harajuku, which is where all the trendy boutiques are. It’s kind of like Newtown. I found an awesome little shop where I bought a few very pretty vintage lace things. Maternity-style lace dresses are all the rage here. While it looks awesome on tiny skinny girls, it looks stupid on a tall medium white girl.

After Harajuku we stopped in Shibuya to see the statue of Hachiko, a famous dog, and to see the also famous Shibuya crossing – a five-way crossing streaming with hip teenagers.

Next stop was the Tokyo metropolitan Museum of Photography where they had three exhibitions: Surrealism and Photography: Beauty Convulsed; Mariogiacomelli; Secrets Unveiled Images from the Forbidden City. All very cool, particularly the first two.

After our cultural stop we caught the subway to Roppongi Hills and rode up 52 floors to the Tokyo City View – a 360 degree view of Tokyo. The weather turned bad unfortunately, so it was really cloudy with poor visibility, but we still waited for the sun to go down and watched all of the lights turn on. Beautiful!

Tokyo – Alec’s Day Out

We decided to take turns in a manner of speaking, at deciding what to do each day. Today was Alec’s day, so we went to the Imperial Gardens, where they had beautiful flowers in the castle ruins. We then focussed on electronics.

We started at the Sony building – seven of so floors of Sony electronics – for Alec to try on their super-wizz-bang headphones, and then to the Apple store, where they had five floors of Apple wonderfulness.

Next was the electronics district where Alec found some games and gaming insanity all around, and ended it all up with going to our new favourite store, Bic Camera, for seven floors of electronics mayhem, which is where we bought a speaker set for our iPods/iPhones. Cool! MUCH shopping!

Snow Monkeys to Tokyo

We woke up to a brilliant blue sky and took off for Jigokudani, the area where the wild snow monkeys live. A nature reserve was set up in 1964 for this family of monkeys and they come every year, around 200 of them, to bathe in the hot springs during the cold months. They are technically wild – you definitely wouldn’t want to try and touch one – and run free, but the people who work there occasionally give them fruit to entice them to the area.

The snow monkeys – Japanese macaques – are amazing. Really cute little critters with red faces. They were completely fearless and ran around with no regard for any people there, playing, pulling each others hair, rolling all over the ground with each other, but you definitely wouldn’t want to try and touch one of these critters. The warnings all over the park said “We are not loveable monkeys. We bite.”. We say one lady go to pat one then freeze with her hand extended as the monkey she was going to pat opened up its mouth in response and bared its teeth ready to bite … The monkeys were fascinated by the camera phones that all of the Japanese people there had to take photos with. The phones were so shiny and all had dangly bling on them – just the kind of thing that attracts a monkey! We wondered how many people had lost their mobile phones to monkeys …

After the amazing monkey experience Alec and I travelled to Tokyo by bullet train. We arrived in the early arvo, just in time to drop our stuff off at the hotel and go shopping. We found the Sanrio building after a few false starts, where I went completely bonkers buying Hello Kitty stuff.

Tokyo first impressions are great. Amazing vibe to the city, and with the awesome weather finally back, we can really enjoy it.

Trains, Trains and More Trains

Another long day in transit. What we thought would take us around four hours actually took eight. We travelled today from Takayama to Yudanaka, which is an hour out of Nagano.

We stayed in a cute little ryokan / hotel with the sweetest staff. Their English was terrible but they were amazingly friendly and were trying so hard to make sure we had a pleasant stay, including walking us to the door of a restaurant they recommended to us and speaking with the owner inside.


The sun came out today just in time for being touristy in Takayama. We spent the morning wandering around the markets and old town, where they have preserved the buildings and so on, then took a short bus ride out to Hidanosato, which is also called the Hida Folk Village.

The folk village is a collection of homes and mills etc from around the 1600’s that were moved from wherever they were originally built in the region to this site for preservation. The result is an open air museum that shows the way that people lived in the area several hundres of years ago. It was worth the long trip just to see this.

Alec and I walked back from Hidanosato into town then embarked on what looked like a walking path on our map. Problem was it took us an hour to find the start of the walking trail as our map was not accurate and mainly in Japanese. Oh well! We eventually found the trail and walked up to the castle runs, which were literally “ruins” as there was absolutely nothing of the castle left. Interesting!

Kyoto to Takayama

More rain again!! We slept in, had breakfast (mmm toast! Who would have thought toast would be such a luxury!) then made our way to Takayama, in he mountains. Several trains and hours later we arrive – to MORE rain!! We had a quiet arvo and chilled out together at the hotel before venturing out for an amazing meal.

Takayama is pretty touristy. Downside – things like food are double the price. Upside – lots of people speak excellent English. The restaurant we ate at tonight was a prime example. The food was REALLY pricey for Japan, but it was really delicious so we felt it was worth our while. We ate traditional food of the region – Hida beef for Alec and mountain vegetables for me. I seemed to get some really odd things like mountain ferns … is this really what people up here eat?