Most lists of kids friendly places are filled with western choices, perhaps because kids like the fish and chips option. Also, the criteria for making these lists may be quite lax. Any one of providing colouring pencils, kids menu or even high chair could be sufficient for a restaurant to meet these lists.
I am happy to report that I found an Asian (to be specific, Chinese) restaurant that I have not seen on any of the kids friendly restaurant in Singapore list yet blows all of those restaurant out of the water. The restaurant I am talking about is Haidilao. The steamboat restaurant from China famous for providing manicure and other services for customers waiting for a table. I always think of it as a young person’s place although the price range is actually way beyond what regular teenagers should be spending on a regular basis, probably because of the manicure and board games image. However, it is definitely a family restaurant.
First up, the food. To be honest none of the kids friendly recommendations I have been to have good food. I’m usually happy with halfway decent options. Haidilao’s food is good. It is first and foremost a good restaurant with fresh and well executed food offerings, unlike other restaurants targeting young families by serving refried/reheated frozen food. Food here is quality and even if I didn’t use any of its kid friendly services I would still eat here.
For my child the food offering is also ideal. Sophia’s staple is rice with green leafy vegetables, so an order of spinach which we boil and add a dash of oyster sauce from the extensive condiments bar, together with rice makes her very happy. What makes her even happier is the free flow of popcorn and watermelon. Kids may also enjoy the banana chips, oranges, rock melon, and peanuts, all available on a free flow basis.
For kids there is also a playground. Small of course, but in my experience a very small playground can keep a child happy for very long.
The service at this place is amazing. Once you arrive, you are greeted warmly with a smile and very efficiently led to your table if you made a reservation or sat down with free flow snacks if you have not. A wait staff offers hot towel to freshen up and takes your drinks and soup base order. While waiting for the ingredients to arrive, a wait staff serves you soup with condiments and throughout the meal they are efficiently topping up drinks, changing dirty plates and offering whatever help you need, including helping my dad crack the particularly hard shell of a crab. However the ultimate is this. When they noticed that I had put my sleeping baby down on an empty chair, they offered (I still cannot believe this) a cot!!!
They also drew the curtains next to the cot and did all sorts of nice things. I am suitably impressed.