[Review + Giveaway] By Invitation of the King

Update: The winners have been picked! Check the end of this post to see if you’ve won, and thanks for your endearing comments!

“Daddy, where are we going?” my rather bored son asked as we drove out for the evening.

“We’ve been invited to dinner by a King,” I replied. “We’re going to a castle. There’ll be knights there.”

The boy sat up; I piqued his interest, much to the bemusement of his mother. “Castle? Where?”

“At VivoCity,” I said.

king-louis-entrance-2

In fact, we were invited by the management of The King Louis for a royal evening feast. Prior to this, the only things we knew about the place were that they planted a couple of knights’ armour as promotional displays around the shopping centre (I was later told there were 3 knights in total strewn around the area), and that they were located round the back of Daiso, at what was once Hog’s Breath Caf?, where I once brought the wife, before the wife was the wife, in one of my early bids to impress her into becoming my wife – with an avocado ribeye steak, I still remember.

king-louis-entrance

I always thought The King Louis to be a tavern or a pub with a really good view of Sentosa; I was only half-right. Turns out it is a full-service restaurant bar and grill with a really good view of Sentosa. Our hostess for the evening also pointed out that Sentosa has a really good view of the restaurant?(they also have another dessert cafe bistro called Queens across the bridge), especially at night when the restaurant signage is lit.

They're everywhere, those pesky knights..
They’re everywhere, those pesky knights. ..

It’s just as dramatic within. The interior is set up like a dimly-lit Tudor-style dining hall, complete with oak tables and benches, a mural of a majestic castle by a lake, a number of knights hanging out with swords and all, and a taxidermy tiger which my son took a special interest to throughout the night. There’s also a ceiling mounted television screening all manner of medieval epics from Lord of the Rings to The Chronicles of Narnia, in case, you know, the dead tiger isn’t enough of a distraction.

Dead tiger decides to photobomb my shot.
Dead tiger decides to photobomb my shot.

If you’re vegetarian, you need to seriously rethink your lifestyle if you want to sit with your meat-loving friends here, because The King Louis is a carnivorous lair, and not an ounce ashamed of it. And they call this a family restaurant for one very big reason; you should never attempt to go into the castle alone. Always with a larger group of friends, your work colleagues (including your tea auntie, cleaner uncle, and the despatch riders) or better still, all 3 generations of your extended family.

And what’s a king’s castle without a royal feast? The King Louis serves up specialty starter platters (the Platter C that we ordered had BBQ wings, calamari, prawn rolls, and they also have this strange bacon-wrapped banana chunks which completely threw me off) and “banquets”, gigantic silver trays of food laid out to cover way more than the required spectrum of the food pyramid (a pile of roast black pepper beef, baby back ribs, sausages, and/or an array of various seafood, depending on what you order, laid on a bed of?roast potatoes and butter-drenched vegetables). And if you’d like a swig of beer to go with all that food, The King’s got Hoegaarden on tap, as well as a selection of 17 other bottled offerings, that kind of read like a “Greatest Hits” of beer brands (Heineken, Fosters, Corona, Little Creatures and ?Somersby cider, just to name a few).

king-louis-dinner

Its selection of banquets (from the respectable Knight’s menu, to the by-no-means-ladylike Queen platters, to the very opulent, seafood-based King’s Banquet) are a sight to behold, and the restaurant is happy to provide doggie bags (or aluminium swans, depending on who’s working in the kitchen at the time) for leftovers (and I promise you, there will be leftovers). The seafood in our Queen Victoria Banquet was done impeccably, and the roast potatoes and vegetable complements stood on their own in taste, though the beef was too well done (we asked for medium rare) and the baby back ribs a tad tough. The wife and I did note one other thing: we’ve never seen our son voluntarily consume green apples before, but on this night, he ate two whole cinnamon-laced slices off the skewer, so our hats off and a very appreciative curtsy to the royal chef.

But a word of warning to the daring knights and famished damsels; The King Louis’ royal banquets might take a king’s ransom to enjoy, depending on the income bracket you belong to, and the income bracket of the people you’re sharing the bill, uh, banquet, with. The Banquets can range anywhere from $59.90 for the meaty Knight Gawain set to the $320 King’s Banquet for 4-5 persons (and you need to call to pre-order). The Queen Victoria’s Banquet for 2-3 persons that we had will set you back the princely sum of $108.50 (not too bad if you consider it’s about $36 a head). The single-serving??? la carte items are easier on the wallet, though,?and the generous starter platters start from $19.90 (of course, you could always order ?? la carte for individual starters as well).

That being said, The Blogfather has got you covered.

$50 Dining Voucher* Giveaway

The King Louis has kindly supplied us with 5 dining vouchers worth $50 each for 5 very hungry readers! His Royal Majesty does have one request (actually, two) before you can qualify for the giveaway: give him a?like on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thekinglouis), then make your way back here and drop in a comment on who you’ll be bringing to The King Louis for your royal feast. This giveaway closes on Thursday, 4 July 2013, 2359hrs, after which The Blogfather will select and announce the 5 winners right here on this post the next day (Friday, 5 July 2013). ?Winners will be contacted over Facebook for your mailing address to send your dining voucher (or if we’re meeting up anytime soon, I’ll probably just pass it to you and save the postage).

And if you do manage to win a voucher and visit the King’s not-very-humble establishment, share the feast on Instagram (remember to tag @thekinglouissg) to complete your visit!

*Terms and conditions apply.

Congratulations to:

Chuyan Kwek

Hazel Cruz Rivera

Isaiah Kuan

Edwin Teo

Amie Chen

Winners, please drop me a private message via The Blogfather’s Facebook page with your mailing address as soon as you see this, and I’ll have your vouchers sent to you. Hurry, the vouchers expire on 31 August 2013!

king-louis-mask

The King Louis Grill & Bar is located at 1 Harbourfront Walk, VivoCity, #03-07A, S098585 (Beside Daiso), and they’re open daily (12pm to 10pm from Sunday to Thursday, and 12pm to 11pm on Fridays, Saturdays & Eve of Public Holidays.

For reservations, call 6276 0862, or visit their website at?http://www.thekinglouis.com/ to book a table online.

Hasbro's Response to The Blogfather's NERF Challenge

Some of you might remember the rather direct blog post I published two Fridays ago when I received a little NERF gun as a gift from Hasbro to tie in with their POWERPLAY 2013 event last weekend.

Well, they replied.

Hasbro-NERF-Response

Full text as follows:

***

Dear Winston a.k.a The Blogfather,

Fathers VS Their Kids? Love the idea. Game on.

In the coming months, we will be launching a number of different NERF sessions in and around Singapore. These sessions will lead up to the launch of NERF Social Play which aims to encourage people to have fun whilst playing socially in their neighbourhoods. In fact, even as we speak, our friends from NERF SG are already taking things into their own hands by organising mini-battles in various parts of the island.

We’ll love to talk more with NERF SG in organising a session just for you and all other fathers, and their children to come together to have some fun. To make sure everyone has some experience with NERF, we?ll also look at some ways to “initiate” the newbies by having some training sessions led by the pros over at NERF SG.

You’ve asked for bigger blasters? We’ll do you one better, we’ll provide an entire arsenal of blasters – big and small, full of the necessities for you to have a day full of great, awesome fun.

We’ll be in touch soon for the Ultimate “Fathers vs Children” showdown.

In the meantime, keep NERF-ing and see you at the NERF Powerplay 2013 this weekend at NEX Shopping Mall, Level 1 Atrium.

Sincerely,

Regina Toh
Marketing Manager
Hasbro Singapore

***

I took a while to publish their response, because, you know, the haze. In a gist, we’re going to have a special battle, just us dad bloggers from Daddy Matters, our kids, and Hasbro’s NERF guns, specially supplied for the event.

All I need now is for the air to clear (on both this event and the actual air). Then indeed, Hasbro, GAME ON.

The Worst of the Haze Isn't the Haze

The barista clasped his hands over his head as he looked outside. “It looks like 490,” he said. The cashier taking my order replied, “You can see just how bad it is.” Then she looked at me. “We’re gonna die,” she said, jokingly.

I looked at her with a smile. “In that case, can I get my coffee free?”

n95

The barista wasn’t too far off the mark. As at 11am this morning, the 3-hourly PSI average hit an unprecedented 400 here in Singapore, and it’s set to go higher. The last 3 days, Facebook was inundated with status posts about the haze, including before-after pictures showing the daily worsening of our weather conditions. Last Monday (when the PSI reading was at the mid-100s), people were staring at me like I was paranoid for wearing a respirator mask my father gave me. Today, the N95 masks are all but sold out, and I was told a black market had emerged with N95 masks being sold at $3 a piece.

The wife and I managed to get our batch of masks off a friend last night, but it’s our boy that we’re worried about. The standard sized N95 masks are too large for him, and this morning, we had to make do with teaching him how to hold a wet handkerchief to his face before sending him to school.

Online, I saw a status update from someone who was surveying the streets at mid-day yesterday, that construction workers were all diligently donning their masks while they work, but the general public were being more careless with their breathing. She noticed a mother and father walking with their masked child, themselves without masks, and remarking that it was a case of “do as I say, not as I do”. As a father, I wouldn’t be too sure. Given the limited availability of masks the last few days, I’d rather my son wear one and I go without if that was the only mask we had.

sky-at-400

The situation has all of us getting really… irritated? Annoyed? Angry. Angry with the weather, with the Indonesian government, with our government, with each other, with ourselves, as though something in the air triggered a mass change in temper. Some, like the dear barista and his cashier counterpart, are feeling helpless. Some take to judgmental rants over other people’s reactions to the haze, as though the more they rant, the less the haze will bother them. Others are taking activist approaches, telling stories of construction workers and how a stop work order needs to be issued (which I don’t quite agree with, but will withhold comment until I have a better grasp of what’s going on). And for people like me, my wife, and my son, life goes on. It has to. We have work to do, people to feed, bills to pay.

The world doesn’t stop turning, even if we issue a stop work order against it. We just deal with it.

Happy Father's Day

This post was first published in Jun 22, 2009 on My Ivory Throne, 7 months after my son was born.

Re-reading this reminded me how much of a wreck I was 4 years ago. It’s very sobering.

My first Father’s Day.

I’ve told my wife what I really thought of Father’s Day from my own point of view, particularly after having witnessed what she had to go through giving birth to our son. Father’s Day to me was like an afterthought; someone came up with Mother’s Day, and then about a month after celebrating the general awesomeness of motherhood and giving thanks to the pain and hardship of women the world over for bringing up the next generation of leaders, movers and shakers, someone else suddenly sat up and asked, “What about the fathers?”

If you asked me today, “Do you feel like a father?”, I honestly would say no. I mean, given the last 6 months, as opposed to the extra 9 months of labour my wife had to go through, coupled with the last 30 hours of birthing that eventually involved every standard birth procedure (natural, induced, forceps and C-section), I was about as useful as my little toe. And till today, I still feel that way.

Some of you may know I got into a chain collision a week back. No injuries, save for a motorcyclist skidding that turned out to be the cause of the sudden turn of events but was deemed umrelated to the subsequent cars affected. Well, although no one got seriously hurt, the implications weighed heavily on me. For one, I was the last car involved, meaning the car’s insurance would be bearing the brunt of all the other vehicles’ claims. Add to that the fact that it was my father-in-law’s car, not mine, so evidently I’m not a named driver in the policy. Then add to that the fact that I just got my license and am still under probation, and you’ve got yourself a big mess worthy of a teenager’s penchant for trouble.

I’m gonna go out on a limb by saying this whole accident incident has made me doubt my self-worth as a father, a husband and a so-called head of my household. In the current climate, what with my company’s cutbacks and the general downturn in the incomes of those around me, I really couldn’t afford an accident in my current position. Where before that fateful day I felt like I could accomplish a lot, for a week and counting I was put in my place right proper and told to fucking grow up and come back to earth.

My in-laws were nothing but compassionate about my plight and stopped at nothing to help me out with the car repairs, insurance queries, and most of all, breaking the news to my father-in-law. As much as I deeply appreciated them for everything they did, I felt deeply ashamed that I wasn’t doing right by their daughter and sister. And I’m deeply ashamed that thus far I have done more harm than good for my wife and child because of my carelessness.

So do I feel like a father? No.

***

I feel bad for my own dear old dad. In the midst of having to deal with my own problems, my communication with my parents have been getting less and less, with my dad getting the brunt of the neglect.

He hasn’t been doing too well either in the past months. After having to deal with doctors telling him he’s got a heart problem and even showed evidence in his ECG that he’s had a heart attack and stroke before (so mild even he didn’t notice), current medical results now show that he’s possibly diabetic.

He’s aged a lot in the last 2 years. The tiredness is manifesting in his receding hairline, growing number of wrinkles, his lack of energy and even his mood. The once energetic man with a corny sense of humour and an ability to solve problems in a heartbeat is now a tired old man, prone to impatience and bad temperment and sorely in need of sleep.

And all I could do today was send him a Father’s Day greeting via SMS. Heck of a father I am, and now, heck of a son.

Someone should just fire me from my life, because I’m doing a terrible job of living it.

Let's Play a Game, Hasbro

Last week, I received an email from a Hasbro representative telling me to expect a delivery on the following Monday.

I’ve dealt with Hasbro Singapore on a couple of occasions prior to this, and even though The Blogfather had to put up an Editorial Policy (as both a disclaimer for media engagements as well as a guideline for myself when taking in products for review), I did note that the Hasbro people are not that scared of me (last year, I called their latest generation Furby a “furry little gremlin” that was “plotting world domination” and just “won’t die”; they liked it).

And so, as promised, a courier came by my place to drop off a big blue paper bag the following Monday, just before lunch. It was a gun.

nerf-1

These people are really not scared of me.

To be exact, it was a NERF Dart Tag practice set, with a target board, 5 velcro-tipped foam bullets, and an dinky little shooter.

Liddat want to impress me ah?

So I set up the target board, then I tried to take 5 steps back. I said “tried”, because 2 steps later, I fell into the sofa. After I composed myself, I gave it a shot.

I loaded a foam bullet, cocked the itty-bitty shooter, and pulled the trigger. I felt a recoil that I did not expect to come from a shooter that tiny. The foam bullet took off, the target board went thunk, and my son ran for cover under his craft table (the little wuss doesn’t do well with sudden, loud sounds).

I realised this is not your typical mama shop dart gun. Now I know why NERF has a reputation among men who haven’t grown out of their adolescence.

nerf-2

There was a media release that came with the package. Apparently,?there’s a NERF-themed carnival at NEX Shopping Mall next week (17-23 June), where Hasbro Singapore has put together a myriad of Nerf Blasters displays and tryout booths, as well as a tournament called the NERF POWERPLAY 2013, that will begin from 21 June with the preliminary rounds.

After looking through the release, I thought to myself, Oh Hasbro, I’m sure you can do better than that.

So The Blogfather had a little discussion with some of the other dad bloggers, and we have a proposal for Hasbro Singapore. We’d like to have a little tournament of our own, and we want to get our kids in on the action, too.

You set the date, time, venue and firepower (bigger guns, can?); we’ll bring the kids and the fun. We see who win who. Onz boh?

Dads for Life Conference & Workshops 2013 – What Was Not Said

Having attended Dads for Life’s main annual event over the weekend, I thought it would be interesting to offer a different perspective to what was discussed and taught over the keynote, panel discussion as well as the workshops I attended. Specifically, The Blogfather would like to point out some important things that were not said over the 2-day event – and why it is important that these not be said.

1. How to be a Successful Parent

The Blogfather was quite heartened to find that the tone that drove this year’s conference was more one of realism and dealing with insecurities, rather than how to parent perfectly. As Benjamin Lee said during his and wife Dinah Lee’s ‘It Takes 2: Effective Co-Parenting’ workshop, no one would dare declare that he or she is a perfect parent. And indeed, that illusion needs to be removed from any parent’s mindset in order to parent well.

Benjamin & Dinah workshop re-emphasised, in large part, what was said during last year’s keynote by William C. Hoecke, that mothers and fathers approach parenting very differently, and that we as team playing parents have to accept and complement each other’s parenting styles in order for our children to absorb their parents’ influences – individually and collectively – to become well-rounded individuals.

As an old workplace mentor would always tell me, “Never let the perfect get in the way of the good.”

2. Getting Children to Excel in Their Education

Gregory W. Slayton speaking at the Dads for Life Conference
Gregory W. Slayton speaking at the Dads for Life Conference

It’s the foremost concern of many parents out there, and yet over the conference and workshops, no one preached any direct advice on how parents can improve their children’s academic study. And when education was mentioned, it was only because of various research studies that show children who do well in school are natural achievers largely because of a stable family environment, as presented in one of Professor Gregory W. Slayton’s “10 Tools of Fatherhood” (the one about staying married and loving your wife).

The message in this non-mention? It’s not the money you spend on tuition classes and assessment books that will make your kid a better academic; it’s the amount of time and effort you spend on your family that really counts.

3. Don’t Fight In Front of Your Children

Parents will try, but experienced parents will know this is an unrealistic ideal. The Conference reflects as much, with just about all invited speakers preferring to share how children learn to deal with conflict through observing and experiencing how their parents would do it, and offer advice on how to handle conflicts as couples, given how difficult communication can get when things heat up.

The moral of this story? Don’t think about avoiding an argument. Think about settling it.

4. How To Handle Your Job or Career Despite Fatherhood

This became sort of a running theme amongst dads during Q&A sessions at both the conference and the workshops I attended. “How do I switch from ‘work mode’ to ‘dad mode’ after work?” “How do I communicate to my kids that I need to work late?” “How do I juggle my work schedule with my family time?”

The answers given across the board was consistent: family comes first. “Nobody ever says at their deathbed, ‘I wish I stayed at the office more,” quoted Prof. Slayton and Benjamin Lee, and multiple times over the conference and the workshops they helmed.

Those that have followed The Blogfather and Dear Xander over the year will know the “family over career” mindset is one I have adhered to very strongly, and truth be told, there has never been anything in my work life that I can say defines me or has been of significant regret. But I work my hardest at being a father, because the pitfalls of regret in being a dad are many, and deep, and they are all pitfalls I am compelled to avoid at all costs.

So What Was Said?

You wouldn’t expect too much drama at a family-focused and rather male-oriented parenting conference, but there were quite a number of surprising moments, like Prof. Slayton’s “tough love” approach towards a couple of sleepers in the audience, where he threatened anyone who was dozing off with making them Sing the Singapore National Anthem in front of everybody just to wake themselves up.

Then there was that one guy in the audience that sprung an anti-homosexual question at the Professor, which was rather neatly sidestepped with US statistics in crime and delinquency relative to absentee fathers. (If The Blogfather were tasked to answer that man, though, I guarantee a very messy, and direct reply.)

Then you have Benjamin & Dinah Lee’s co-parenting workshop, where a number of (still-tasteful) references to sex and pyrography were raised, both jokingly and as subject matters for discipline and sex education; I found it very refreshing to hear a former church pastor use the word “masturbation” so freely and comfortably as Benjamin did.

But the one that absolutely takes the cake was none other than Gold 90.5FM radio presenter Joe Augustin, who was invited to the conference panel discussion as a member. Towards the end of the conference, and after hearing about how one audience member was having trouble choosing between family and work, Joe offered this stern opinion that sounded suspiciously like a direct reprimand, and that rendered the conference hall silent with tension (I have it on audio if you’re interested):

“I hear people putting the blame on or giving the power to somebody else – you know, time doesn’t allow, this doesn’t allow, the pressures of this and that… No, it’s you. I mean, really, it’s up to you. You decide.”

This conference just gets more drama every year, doesn’t it? The Blogfather is looking forward to next year already.