Sunday, July 15, 2018

j / wata TEMAKI BAR - the ONLY sushi handroll bar in SD!

j / wata TEMAKI BAR is the latest food venture from Chef Junya Watanabe, the brain behind Pokirrito, Raki Raki Ramen, and Angels and Hearts on Convoy in Kearny Mesa, San Diego. You can find all of these eateries in a nice little row in the strip mall anchored by O'Brien's Pub and many other fast casual restaurants.
The concept behind this 24-seat bar are premium handrolls! The menu is small but that is because each handroll is made right in front of you and served personally by the chef. The chef waits until you have finished eating your current roll before making the next one.
My husband and I were able to dine in on one of the Grand Opening weekends.  They have been opened for about a month and the word has gotten out.  We came right at 11 am and had no problem getting a seat. When we left 55 minutes later, there was a line.  All of the staff we interacted with were very friendly, made us feel welcome and answered any questions I had.
This is the menu:

We chose the Go set that came with 5 rolls.  There are no substitutions and no splitting plates.
One novelty of this place is that they roast each seaweed on top of a charcoal open flame to get it toasty. You can hear the crunch when you take a bite. I really enjoyed the texture of the nori!
They give you a disposable wet towel to wipe your hands with when you sit down. Even though there were chopsticks available, I just used my hands! The usual cone-shaped hand rolls hold everything at the bottom, but these were open ended rolls, so if you are prone to being clumsy like me, you had to be careful because the filling easily came out once you were near the end of the roll.

The rolls are about five inches long packed with simple ingredients. We started with the Maine Lobster roll.You can see how much lobster meat was in there!
The next roll was the Spicy Tuna roll. It was great, but we're used to eating this sushi so it didn't make that big of an impression.
The third roll was a Bay Scallop roll. This was one of my favorites! You can taste the freshness of the seafood and the mayo ratio was just right!
The fourth roll was a Negi Salmon roll.  I filmed Chef Brian making this one. Again, one of our regular sushi rolls. It was also good.
The last roll was the Blue Crab roll.  It was heavenly! The sweetness of the crab melted in my mouth! This was very yummy.
One might think four or five rolls doesn't make for a filling meal, but when you take the time to savor each one and patiently wait for the next while having good conversation, I was satisfied! This also leaves some room for dessert. The receipt offered a 15% off a same day purchase at the Angels and Hearts creperie next door. Yogurt World and the newly opened Cauldron are a few doors down as well.
Here are some other items that j / wata offers.
The atmosphere is like an open exhibition kitchen with interesting art on the walls.  Initially there was only one Chef working while Chef Brian was still prepping. But once the place filled up,  Chef Brian jumped in to start filling the orders. I'm glad too because I wanted some "sushi chef" talk and got the chance to banter with Chef Brian. That's part of the sushi bar experience, right?
If you like seafood, I think you will enjoy this place. I have never ordered a lobster, scallops or blue crab roll at other places because of the price, but this set of five rolls was $21.75 and worth it!

Ok, I mainly gave some positives right? So here's some negatives:

  • Parking in this strip mall can be like the Hunger Games so be prepared! I don't really count this against the restaurant though.  Maybe Chef Watanabe can invest in a parking garage nearby since he owns a lot of the places?
  • The water came with no ice.  I like ice. We had to request for some ice when it came time to refill. But again, our server was very nice (and nice-looking too, hehehe). 
  • Here's the one thing that was off-putting. The Chefs are gloved up making the rolls but then they are also touching tablets with the same hands checking on what to make next.  Does this only bother me thinking about yucky germs being spread? Not sure how to fix that.  Chef Brian was using his pinky finger to swipe on his device, but I'm certain his pinky also touches the mound of rice whenever he grabs some for his next roll and so on. Whatever. I guess I've seen worse.

Overall for the taste, friendly staff and concept, 4 stars!  If you've tried it, what did you think?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

LEGOLAND's New Deep Sea Adventure Submarine Ride!

LEGO® CITY: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride is Merlin Entertainments’ single largest investment for a ride in any LEGOLAND® Park. For the first time in the United States, LEGOLAND California Resort brings guests onboard a real submarine where they’ll go underwater to discover a truly amazing world filled with real sea animals.  Through the use of interactive touchscreens at each porthole inside the sub, guests can help the LEGO® mini-figure dive team identify LEGO® gems, pearls, gold coins and more throughout the more than four minute journey. Guests can reach one of three levels during each ride: Junior, Senior and Master Explorer. 
The interactive touch pads aren’t the only feature that utilizes technology within Deep Sea Adventure. Before guests board the 22,000 pound submarines, they are given a briefing on the mission that awaits them by a 3-foot-tall LEGO diver whose face, with the help of a projector screen, is animated as he gives instructions to the explorers.Five species of sharks and several species of rays including a southern stingray with a five-foot wing span, are among the sea animals guests will discover. 

My son and his friend had a great time on the ride keeping engaged with tracking what they saw through the journey! Check out a video of the maiden voyage!

As guests exit the ride, they enter the retail space where they can build their own virtual fish from LEGO and “release” it into the virtual ocean. If they’d like to build their own LEGO fish at home, all of the LEGO elements are available for purchase.

More than 30 children and their families from the Los Angeles and San Diego chapters of Ronald McDonald House Charities® were treated to an exclusive day at LEGOLAND® California Resort to embark on the maiden voyage.  The children were among the first to experience the interactive underwater adventure following a check presentation as LEGOLAND California Resort donated $80,000 to help the chapters continue their programs that keep families of hospitalized children together and near the medical care and resources they need.
The submarine ride will be included in the price of admission this summer at LEGOLAND California Resort.  For more information and to sign up for insider updates, visit

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Countdown to the Extinction of Jurassic Park - The Ride!

Universal City, CA, May 10, 2018 – In 2019, colossal, dimensional dinosaurs will once again roam the Earth and astound guests when Universal Studios Hollywood debuts an all-new technologically-advanced epic adventure inspired by Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film franchise: Welcome to the “Jurassic World Ride.”
            Drawing from the favorite elements of the original “Jurassic Park—The Ride,” this next-generation thrill ride will be a fully re-imagined iteration of the ground-breaking adventure, elevating every facet of the experience. With the introduction of never-before-seen dinosaurs, enhanced storytelling, lush scenic design, an entirely new color scheme and uncompromised state-of the art technology, the ride will capture elements never experienced within a theme park.
            To rally fans for the finale of “Jurassic Park—The Ride” on September 3, 2018, Universal Studios Hollywood has launched a “Countdown to the Extinction” campaign—inviting guests from around the world to experience the ride before its transformation into the all-new “Jurassic World Ride” in 2019.
More information is available at Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Pac Arts Spring Showcase: ULAM - Film & Feast featuring San Diego Fil-Am Chefs April 23, 2018!

The 8th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF) Spring Showcase, presented by Pacific Arts Movement (Pac Arts), announced Ulam: Film & Feast​, a special film and food event to be held on April 23 at the Natural History Museum, sold out in just four hours after tickets went on sale.

In partnership with 15 local San Diego chefs, Pac Arts will host the San Diego premiere of Filipino food documentary, “Ulam: Main Dish,” followed by a filmmaker Q&A and post-film kamayan-style feast for 300, showcasing the chefs’ modern, localized and innovative takes on Filipino food followed by a dessert reception.

Patrons will enjoy the culinary talents of:
● Mike Arquines (The LAB Dining Sessions)
● Chris Aure (Zarlito’s)
● Tress Balch (Happy Sushi)
● Jonathan Bautista (George’s at the Cove)
● Evan Cruz (Arterra)
Chef Evan Cruz of Arterra Del Mar (PC: Aleya Zenieris)

Chef Evan's Pork Sarciado (PC: Christine Wu)
● Phillip Esteban (Consortium Holdings)
● Spencer Hunter (Hunter’s Home Kitchen)
Chef Spencer's Turon (PC: Justin Ricafort)

● Craig Jimenez (Nom Nom Bento)
● Leigh Lacap (Campfire)

Bartender Leigh Lacap of Campfire (PC: Breana Parks)
Balisong-Avocado Shake and Punyal-Corn Cocunut Pudding Cocktail (PC: Aleya Zenieris)

● Tara Monsod (Tender Greens)
Chef Tara Monsod of Tender Green Mission Valley
Watch Chef Tara make her Seafood Ginataan!

● Danilo “DJ” Tangalin Jr. (Bivouac Ciderworks)

Chef DJ Tangalin of Bivouac Ciderworks

What's Chef DJ's favorite Filipino dish, find out here!

● Marcus Twilegar (Parq Restaurant)
● Jayrell Ringpis (Snoice)
● Marlaw Seraspi (Open House)
Chef Marlaw Seraspi of Open House Asian Kitchen (PC: Christine Wu)

Chef Seraspi's Kinilaw (PC: Christine Wu)

● Kristianna Zabala (Nomad Donuts)

"Thanks to our partnership with local chefs and sponsors, we are able to bring Ulam: Film & Feast to San Diego in a way that is accessible for more of the local community than food events typically are,” remarks Pac Arts Executive Director Kent Lee. “This unique film and food pairing event not only highlights the growing popularity of Filipino food across the country, but also showcases the talents and ambitions of our local Filipino chefs that are at the forefront of the Filipino food movement here in San Diego.”

"For Pac Arts, this film and feast event is the culmination of years of thinking about what makes the Asian American community in San Diego unique,” says Pac Arts Artistic Director Brian Hu. “As we've done with our Chew the Scene events, we want to tell Asian American stories through food, and ‘Ulam’ reminds us that there's no better way to do so than to bring together artists in the community and have them each bring a dish. This is potluck storytelling."

This is definitely an exciting time for Filipino food and Filipino Chefs in San Diego!

Although currently the event is sold out, all-access passes are still available for the Spring Showcase which includes this event.  There is also another possibility that additional tickets will be released. For more information & tickets, go to

Join the conversation with #UlamSD.

Ulam: Film & Feast is supported in part by the City of San Diego, the Philippine Honorary Consulate of San Diego, House of the Philippines, Snoice, Seafood City, Pacific Shellfish, Specialty Produce, San Diego Seafood, Tanduay Asian Rum and Stella Artois.
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