Tuesday, July 24, 2018

"Switch"ing it up-Nintendo's Family Game Night at 2018's SDCC!

My family was super excited to be invited to a Family Game Night sponsored by Nintendo of America on the eve of the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con at the spectacular Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. You see, my twelve-year old son, EJ,  has been hanging out with Mario and Luigi since he was in diapers. He was introduced to all sorts of activities playing with the twins:  bowling, tennis, driving and of course having an adventure collecting coins to save Princess Peach!

We got the Switch for him as soon as it became available! He loves playing at home and also taking it with him to places where he knows he will be seeing other Switch gamers!
We were able to bring along my godsons to the family event and once we arrived, pictures of Mario and Luigi greeted us!
Just look at this incredible mural featured inside the Nintendo Switch Family Lounge!
Various gaming stations showcased all the latest games throughout the lounge, like Mario Tennis Aces!  My husband and I enjoyed a friendly game. The Score?  We were at Love-Love for a bit, hahaha! The boys were a bit more competitive!
After tennis, the kids previewed a new game debuting in late July called Go Vacation! Up to four players can explore an island paradise by engaging in a multitude of vacation activities!

The lounge also had some cool displays of other products coming out soon, like this Mariokart Hot Wheel set!
Another new product featured was the new Poké Ball Plus remote controller that works with the three games, Pokémon Go, Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let's Go Eevee. This controller fits in the palm of your hand and will be out in November 2018.  I immediately thought it could also double as a stress relief ball when you take it with you to catch some Pokémon! Shake it and you'll hear the sound of the most recent Pokémon caught!
A special surprise of the night was the appearance of Pikachu and Eevee!
I had my own dance party with them!

Captain Toad was another game available to play at the event. While not new, it launched recently for the Switch and 3DS. An interactive photo booth featuring Captain Toad captured all the fun we were having!
Also displayed were products from the Nintendo LABO line! This line felt like a throw back to old school toys that we could feel and touch. Items were made of plain cardboard pieces put together. The total opposite of the colorful, techy visuals usually associated with Nintendo products. It was really neat to see that one can create something that works with the gaming system!
EJ checked out the piano.
At the event was one of my good friends, Lysabeth of Garcia Memories, and her boys! They also tested out the LABO Controls.
Even celebrities use the LABO line! Check out pop star Ariana Grande with Jimmy Fallon and the band, The Roots, using LABO instruments!  Impressive!
Not only did Nintendo provide first class family entertainment, they also fed us very well! We refueled with a dinner break!
At the end of the event, the kids received some really cool swag, including two games! 
We all felt like special guests experiencing all things Nintendo Switch for a couple hours! 
This event will surely rank as the top memory of 2018 SDCC for the boys! Thank you Nintendo of America for an amazing Family Game Night! 
Keep up with all the latest and greatest Nintendo news on their social media channels:
Twitter:  @NintendoAmerica
Instagram: @Nintendo
Facebook: @Nintendo

Disclosure: My family received free products, food and beverage as a result of our attendance at this event.

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 LEGOLAND.com/deepsea2018
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