Jul 1, 2015

Eats: Kamalan Bakery

I discovered Kamalan Bakery by accident. I picking up a to-go order from FuFu Restaurant and the only parking spot available was at the end of the strip, right in front of their store front. Six Ping was actually my next stop after FuFu. Upon seeing Kamalan, I thought why not check it out.

I'm so glad I did! I've been pretty disappointed with Six Ping's buns lately and the other bakery I frequent is closed for a month. When I walked in, I was happy to see peanut bun and coconut bun on the shelve - two of my favorites. I bought a couple of each to try. I will say, they make the best peanut bun in town and their coconut bun is a near tie to my other favorite bakery.

Opened for a couple of months now, they're located next to
Jungle Patisserie

Buns! This one is curry onion w/ pork sung.

More goodies!

Cakes, coconut jelly, milk pudding to name a few...

More cakes. They have a durian pandan cake that I tried. It was ok - can
definitely taste the durain, but I'm not a fan on the cream they use.


Guess their coconut bun was popular that day - only 1 left.
The one next to it is custard bun.

Close-up of the coconut bun.

What buns are on special

Kamalan Bakery
9889 Bellaire Blvd., Suite E219
Houston, TX

Jan 13, 2015

Babies: 2-Year Old Thomas the Train Birthday Party

Last weekend, we celebrated my oldest son's 2nd birthday at Happy Playland. I've actually never heard of them before until recently. Since we've never been there, I scouted the place out first before reserving it. One look at the place and I knew I picked the right spot for his party.

You can reserve the whole place or just one of the two rooms. The smaller room has this awesome wooden ship in it while the larger one has a jungle gym, small house and soft play area. While I wasn't expecting many kids, I reserved the large room anyway since it had the jungle gym my oldest can play on, and the soft play area my youngest can enjoy. The little house, complete with kitchen and accessories, was a hit with all the kids!

Happy Playland really worked for us this year because at 2 years old, my son doesn't really have friends, yet. His friends are our friends' kids, and they range from babies to the case of my nephew, a tween. And at Happy Playland, they were all able to enjoy the equipment. We also liked the fact it was a free of any activities or games. It allowed us to catch up with our friends, most we haven't seen in a while.

Just like most birthday rental places, we were allowed to arrive 15 minutes early to set up. The rental fee includes set up assistance, table clothes, plastic utensils (which came in handy because I totally forgot to buy some), napkins, clean up assistance. They called a couple days before to confirm how many kids were coming (to configurate tables and room) and what the party colors were (to match table cloth).

I guess it would be nice for me to say we knew all a long he was going to have Thomas the Train birthday party but the truth is, my husband and I didn't decide on that until the week before his party. Luckily, the bakery that made his 1st birthday cake was able to whip up something for me. I emailed them a picture of a cake I liked on Pinterest and they matched it really good! I was very pleased with it.

For supplies, I went to Party City and got a bunch of Thomas the Train plates, napkins, cups, balloons, a banner and a table cover... kept it simple. What's important was the birthday boy had a huge smile throughout his party!

Party supplies from Party City

Pinterest inspired Thomas the Train cake

Taken from Happy Playland's website - jungle gym

Taken from Happy Playland's website - wooden ship

Taken from Happy Playland's website - soft play area and little house

Taken from Happy Playland's website - how the two rooms connect

Happy Playland
9801 Long Point St, Suite 101 (at Bunker Hill)
Houston, TX

Alphorn Bakery
1100 W. Dallas St.
Houston, TX

Dec 18, 2014

Eats: Boston Tea Party in Bristol Clifton

Love this great find! Here's the thing, after being in UK for several days, the boys are still jet lagged. It doesn't help that they're also sick. I actually don't care about adjusting their body clock. The only caveat is trying to find a place that serves breakfast later than 11am. 

Luckily, BTP serves breakfast all day! They have a very extended breakfast menu, everything from full English breakfast to pancakes in maple syrup. The food was done really well. I wish I took pictures of our food but, it was total chaos at our table. Just trust me when I say, it was good! And toddler approved!

The one picture I took doesn't do justice in capturing how quaint this cafe is. They get double thumbs up for being kid friendly - kid menu, high chairs at the upstairs dining room, and a changing table in the restroom!

Boston Tea Party
1 Princess Victoria St
Bristol Clifton

Aug 30, 2014

Eats: 2014 Houston Restaurant Week at Brasserie 19

With two babies around, I didn't to do a whole lot of HRWs this year. Since I can only do a couple, I was very selective with my restaurant choices. Brasserie 19's menu was one my whole family agreed on to have our family dinner at.

Since we had a big group, I made reservations weeks in advance. I highly suggest making reservations if you're planning to dine here on a Friday or Saturday night as this place gets packed! And if you have small ones like me, come early.

Last time I came here, I sat outside which I prefer if the weather permits. It's quieter outside and more space between tables. Inside gets really loud and the seating is really tight. They do have booths along the wall that made it easy to sit the carseat on.

On to the food...

HRW menu here was $35. For my starter, I chose the foie gras torchon. The torchon itself was good but the side condiments was way too sweet. As you can see below, the torchon was really small. When we were ordering, my brother asked how big it was going to be and the waiter replied about 4 oz. Umm, yeah... it wasn't even an ounce.
Foie Gras Torchon
pink peppercorn, strawberry jam, basil, pistachio

For my main course, I had the coq au vin. I was very happy with this dish. It was spot on, rustic French. The size of this dish made up for the minuscule torchon. In fact, I couldn't finish it and asked for a to-go box (very un-French).
Coq Au Vin
braised half hen, red wine, wild mushroom, bacon lardons, pearl onions, egg noodles

My dessert was the lemon bavarian. I was hoping by ordering a lemony dessert it would be refreshing. Unfortunately, the lemon curd itself was too sweet for my liking.
Lemon Bavarian
toasted marshmallow, shortbread crumble, lemon curd

Despite some things being too sweet, overall I enjoyed my dinner. After two visits here, I think it's one of the better French restaurants in town. And it helps that the service was quick and efficient despite it being a packed. I'm not crazy about how loud the restaurant gets but it made me not feel bad about bringing my toddler and baby since no one can hear them anyway. 

In reality, my babies did fine. Even the unruly toddler who has the tendency to climb out of his highchair and run around the restaurant. He behaved himself and stayed seated the whole time. Of course it was with the help of "nanny" iPad which I don't normally take with me but I did this time since we were having three-course meals. It also helped that I brought his favorite foods with me. It kept him busy munching the whole time.

Side note: if you're celebrating a birthday here, notify the staff. They'll bring out a cotton candy... with sparklers... in a trophy.

Brasserie 19
1962 W. Gray St.
Houston, TX 77019

Jun 29, 2014

Eats and More: First Day of Ramadan and Iftar

Today, Al Khobar felt like a ghost town. It's the first day of Ramadan.

I needed to go grocery shopping... yesterday! But, I heard it could be a mad house at the grocery stores with people stocking up for Suhoor (the meal eaten before fasting) and Iftar (meal eaten to break fast). So, I decided to go this morning. Smart idea! Nobody was out and about. I had the grocery store pretty much to myself and a handful of other foreigners.

To my surprise, it was still a ghost town when we ventured out for dinner right before 7pm. I thought it would be crazy with people trying to go out for Iftar. Perhaps it was the first day and everyone was celebrating at home? Perhaps it was too early? When I called Pattis France, they told me they had tables available for Iftar tonight however, for tomorrow night I would have to book a table. So perhaps it is the first.

Pattis France is one of our favorite restaurants in Al Khobar. Like many restaurants in town, they offer special Iftar buffets during Ramadan. Prices are SR135 for adults, SR75 for kids, and children under 6 are free. Since they are a French cafe, their buffet was a mix of Middle Eastern and Western food.

Being this was my first Iftar, I truly enjoyed my experience. The food was good and I got a taste of what people normally eat here when they break fast.

Table setup

Appetizers and Main Course Buffet

Traditional Iftar Drinks
I didn't quite understand what they are. The left one was super
sweet and a bit spicy. The right one was a yogurt drink of sort. 

Dessert Buffet
The middle one is Umm Ali, which is an Egyptian
bread pudding that's very popular here.

Arabic Coffee
I still can't get used to this. It doesn't taste like coffee
at all! More like a herbal drink I used to "have" to drink
in Indonesia (jamu).

May 23, 2014

Eats: BRC Gastropub Revisited

Last time I posted about BRC, it made me crave their brussel sprouts. So, while the hubs was in town, we made our way there for lunch. In addition to the brussel sprouts, we shared their foie gras burger. After being pregnant two years in a row and knowing I only had days left in the States, I didn't care about calories... I wanted to splurge! Dang, it was worth it!

We like this restaurant because it has good beer selection for the husband, a kids menu of sort (although the toddler wasn't a fan of their mac 'n cheese), and a dog-friendly patio for the... dog.

JR's Le Fat Fatboy
foie gras, onion-bacon jam, arugula, green garlic mayo, 
avocado, marinated tomato, potato bun

BRC Gastropub
519 Shepherd
Houston, TX

May 22, 2014

Eats: Caracol

Caracol opened in mid-December by the same chef behind Hugo's restaurant. It intrigued me since its focus is on Mexican coastal cuisine as oppose to regional Mexican cuisine that of Hugo's.

At first, it was a little confusing to find. My iPhone map kept directing me to Arcodoro/ Canyon Cafe shopping center when in fact, it's located on the ground floor of the new BBVA Compass building. I had limited time so when I arrived, I just valet parked my car. I read you can self park in the visitor parking garage, just bring the ticket with you so the staff could validate it.

Since I wasn't sure how packed they were for lunch, I called ahead of time to see if reservations was needed. The hostess said, no. Sure enough, my mom and I were seated immediately when we arrived. After placing our order, our waitress brought out an amuse bouche of shrimp soup that was really good - had a little kick to it. This turned out to be the second highlight of our meal.

Since it was just the two of us, to try as many dishes as we could, we opted for the 2 for $22 lunch special and ordered one dish from the regular menu. This also allowed us some room for dessert. Overall, their food was good, some dishes were better than others. Of the three that we ordered, we definitely liked the ceviche the most. I probably would've liked the pulpo (octopus) had I tasted it first but, having had the ceviche, the flavors from that overpowered the pulpo.

For lunch, their service was a little slow. At the rate they were going, I wasn't sure if we were going to have time for dessert but, I was determined to have some so, we ordered one before we were even done with our meal. I'm glad we did because their churros is so deliciously addictive! It was definitely the highlight of our meal.

Amuse bouche
shrimp soup

Ceviche de Caracol
conch, pineapple, ginger, jalapeno

Ensalada de Pulpo
grilled octopus salad, roasted potato, carrot, celery leaves, pumpkin seed dressing

"Texas T Kobe" Carne Apache
Kobe tri-tip, jicama, corn, squash, avocado-tomatillo salsa

Pineapple marmalade stuffed churros served with rum raisin ice cream

2200 Post Oak Blvd, Suite 160
Houston, TX