Pure Gluttony on Day 2 of Sydney, Australia

There has been no shortage of eating on this trip. Even as I write this post, I am bursting at the seams. Diet starts when I return. I swear…

Early Monday morning, K and I headed for Circular Quay to grab a ferry to Taronga  Zoo.

Meal #1

On our way, we each grabbed a personal pie for breakfast at Pie Face, an Australian fast-food chain restaurant that has been taunting me since I arrived. K got a breakfast pie filled with scrambled eggs and sausage and I got one filled with chicken and mushroom. The pies sound better than they taste. Dry and flavorless is what I would describe them. I was disappointed since the pie took up a good portion of my stomach and I still had tons of eating to do.

After the short delay, we were back on track to Circular Quay. We purchased a ferry/zoo combo pass (Zoo Express) for $50 per person. It was a little overcast that day, but the skyline of the Sydney Harbour was still picturesque. We stood out the back of the ferry and took pictures like there was no tomorrow, as did everyone else on the ferry.

After about 20 minutes, we arrived at Taronga Zoo. This zoo is amazing! The animals were so alive and happy, completely opposite from the zoo in San Francisco. You start by taking a gondola to the top of the zoo and work your way down. There are about 9 areas of the park each dedicated to a series of animals – seals, giraffes, koalas, etc. The best part of the zoo was the gorillas. They were hilarious! There was a sign outside of the gorilla pin stating, “The gorillas are getting used to a new adult gorilla that has recently joined the group.” And after watching them for several minutes, we immediately figured out which one of the gorillas was the new kid on the block. The poor adult gorilla was being picked on by the 2 younger gorillas!

Meal #2

While there, we split an order of fish n chips from one of the stands. It what you would have expected purchasing food from a stand at an amusement park. Frozen, mass produced.

Meal #3

When we got back to Circular Quay, we walked over to the Woolloomooloo district for the Tiger Pie at Harry’s Famous Pies. Now this combination is the strangest combination I’ve ever seen. This Australian favorite is a personal beef pie with a scoop of mashed potatoes and a heaping scoop of “mushy” peas. All that topped with gravy. We doused a couple of their sauces on the pie and dug in. It’s an interesting mix. Tasty, meaty, salty, heavy. It was pretty good, and I’ll probably grab another if I ever come back to Sydney.

Meal #4

At this point, I have no idea why we stopped at the Din Tai Fung Dumpling Bar at the Westfield Center. But, we did and ordered 3 golden lava buns to snack on.

Meal #5

After killing some time at the mall and in the hotel room, we headed out for dinner at Mamak, the most recommended restaurant from my Australian coworkers. Mamak specializes in Malaysian food. Sydney seems to have a great representation of really good Asian foods because of its proximity to the native countries. With a fully packed restaurant and a line out the door, it was obvious this place had it going on. Luckily, K and I were seated right away. We ordered the Roti Canai, the chicken satay and fried chicken with coconut rice. To drink, we order 2 hot frothy milk teas. The best meal of the day by far. The roti is much different than the one back home at Banana Island. It was soft and chewy with a little bit of crunch on the outside. It came with 3 dipping sauces – mild, spicy and a little dab of shrimp paste. The chicken satay was uh-mazing. 6 skewers of really tender, juicy chicken with a giant bowl of sweet peanut ginger sauce for dipping. There was obviously way too much sauce for the amount of chicken, but we managed to consume it all somehow. Last but not least was the fried chicken and coconut rice. I have never had a piece of fried chicken like this. The coating on the outside was orange and extremely thin and crispy. The inside was flowing with juices. Oh gosh, I hope I can find this meal back home somewhere.

At the end of the day, I did not want to look, smell or talk about food for the rest of the night. Tomorrow, was a new day.

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Greetings From The Future

Sydney Day 1

I’m writing this post Monday morning in Sydney, Australia. K and I are still very jet-lagged having been on a flight for 15 hours and changing our clock 18 hours ahead. But like we do on any trip, we fight our droopy eyes to see the world.

We’ve kept it pretty low key so far. No scheduled itineraries prepared for this trip. We’ve decided to keep Sydney an eating tour. Of course, we’re going to see the Sydney Opera House, the zoo, aquarium, and possibly some beaches. But, from what we can tell from Sydney already, it is a very diverse city. And with diversity comes food.

K and I are staying in Darling Harbour. This area seems to be a recent development to Sydney. It has an aquarium, a convention center and a bunch of other tall buildings. We dropped off our bags and walked about a mile and a half to the Sydney Harbour to check out the view.

We then headed over to the Sydney Opera House for their hour-long tour. It’s about $50 per person, but we found 20% off discounts in one of the tourist books from the hotel. The tour is highly recommended. You’ll learn about their Danish designer Jørn Utzon and the controversy behind the construction of the building. From there, we we took a quick stroll through the Botanical Gardens.

By this time, our hotel room was ready, so we headed back to our room to clean up a bit. We stopped at the Queen Victoria Building, one of the many shopping centers, for a latte and a cookie called a Melting Moment. Man this cookie was amazing. It was 2 English shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with a light lemon cream. To this minute, I’m still thinking about when I can go back for another.

Before we even left for Sydney, we knew we had to eat at Din Tai Fung for dinner on our first day. Din Tai Fung is a world famous Shanghainese restaurant serving the best soup dumplings you’ll ever taste. In addition to that, we ordered the spicy, tangy wontons over noodles, pork and vegetable dumplings, spinach with garlic and a golden lava bun for dessert. The dessert was a surprise. I’ve had the sweet egg custard buns back at home in SF, but this one was entirely different. The center was a glorious golden salty egg ooze. It tastes better than what I just described. Trust me.

It was about 6pm after we finished dinner, so we walked back to the Harbour to take some night time shots. Enjoy!

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Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Role-Playing Adventure

Are you ready to save the Magic Kingdom?

I just read on the Disney Parks Blog that a new role-playing adventure called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is coming to Walt Disney World in early 2012.  Merlin the magician will be recruiting guests to become apprentice sorcerers by helping them with maps and clues to show where and how to defeat an army of Disney villains.  They already have some giant crates and new spaces showing up throughout Adventureland.

This sounds really exciting!  It sounds like they are adding a scavenger hunt element into the park, as if there weren’t enough things to do there.  Once again, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom will be debuting in early 2012.  I’ll keep you guys updated!

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Comic Con 2011 Recap

We’re back from another successful week at Comic Con. I’m seriously suffering from post-con depression now that it’s over. With 150,000 people attending the con this year, we still managed to have a great time. Good thing K and I waited in line at 2:30am Sunday morning to purchase our tickets for 2012! Here’s a brief recap.

Wednesday

We flew out on Wednesday and spent the afternoon in the Gaslamp district. K and I grabbed a quick bite at the Burger Lounge that takes pride in their all organic menu. After that, K and I headed over to the Nerd HQ, Zachary Levi’s (Chuck) off-site event, to pick up our Conversations for a Cause with Zachary Quinto tickets. While waiting in line, K and I ran into Zach Levi himself and each got a photo with him! Comic Con didn’t even start yet and this pic alone made my week.

After grabbing our tickets, we headed for the exhibit hall for the Preview Night. We tried to get in as much of the exhibit hall as possible this night so we wouldn’t have to come back. We were able to snag a t-shirt from the Marvel booth, buttons from the DC booth, a foam sword from the Summit booth, and much much more.

Thursday

On Thursday, we decided to change up our Comic Con experience and participate in the Nerd Quest scavenger hunt by Nerd HQ rather than sit in Hall H all day. So glad we did this because you’re looking at the grand prize winners right here! Thanks to TheNerdMachine for the brand new custom Xbox 360 and Kinect coming our way in the next few weeks!

After this, we headed to Dick’s Last Resort for some grub. At this point, K and I were so exhausted from running around, that all we wanted was some quick food for sustenance. Dick’s is not the place to go for that. We had no idea this restaurant was themed where the servers treat their patrons like crap. On any other day, I could play along, but at that moment, I really didn’t want to be called an oxymoron for being an “Asian nerd” or have a cup of water thrown at me.

We quickly ate our tequila cheese nachos and our crabby balls and headed for the Jon Favreau and Guillermo Del Toro panel in Hall H. Boy these 2 guys are entertaining. Guillermo has the mouth of a dirty truck driver and it’s just plain hilarious hearing him talk. The 2 movies they spoke about were Favreau’s Magic Kingdom and Del Toro’s Haunted Mansion. Can’t wait for those! After this, we shuffled out of Hall H and headed back to the hotel.

Friday

Friday morning started with The Adventures of Tin Tin panel with 2 of the biggest directors of our time, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. I’ve never read the books, but the movie looks interesting. The 2 directors talked about how they debated between live action and animated. They shared a screen test of the live action, which I thought was cool. But I’m assuming it failed since the movie is now animated.

At 12pm, K and I headed for the Nerd HQ for our Zach Quinto talk. The actor spoke with his group, Before the Door, about their upcoming graphic novel Mr. Murder is Dead. After the talk, the guys stuck around for a 2 hour signing. I ended up getting my Zach Quinto photo I took with him 2 years ago signed!

On our way back to the convention center, we grabbed a 2 hot dog/soda combo at an ice cream store for $4.75. We were desperate and needed to eat something quick before The Amazing Spiderman panel. We ended up missing that panel because the hall was full.

Boo… Anyway, we jumped out of the line and wandered around the Gaslamp. Walking around the little South Park town put together by Comedy Central, we discovered a little food truck area. I found the most devilicious sandwich at a truck called Devilicious. I cannot believe I ordered the PB&J with bacon and cream cheese. Yeah, you read that right. The sandwich was so warm and gooey from all of the ingredients. On top of that, the bread was buttered and pan fried. This was probably the most sinful sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

After this, I sped-walked back to the hotel to work off the sandwich and get ready for the most anticipated party at the Nerd HQ. Zach Levi was expected to be there with all of his celebrity friends. So we all got dressed and headed out to the venue Jolt’n Joe’s.

The HQ was actually pretty cool. They set up demo stations for pre-released games like Gears of War 3 and Rayman and a free photobooth to take unlimited photos. We hung out here for a few hours and then we realized that we’d never be able to actually hang with the celebs, so we headed back home. On the way, we ran into another Chuck cast-member, Mark Christopher Lawrence (aka. Big Mike).

Saturday

Now this is when our trip got crazy. We wanted to see the Chuck panel Saturday at 10am and we heard that fans were planning to jump in line at 2am. So, K and Ivan headed for the expo hall at 1:30am to wait in line. YES. In line for almost 9 hours to see a panel. They weren’t even at the front of the line! This is my only qualm about the conference. People are willing to waste a day in line, and if you don’t do the same, you’ll miss out. I jumped into line around 8am and met K and Ivan’s new Australian friends. Apparently, Zach Levi visited the line at 4:30am to greet the fans waiting in line. So cool!

Anyway, the panel was completely worth it. We got some sneak peek footage of their final season and a performance from Jeffster. We even got a pretty cool Nerd Herd t-shirt. Too bad it’s a large and won’t fit me.

By this time, the guys were wiped out, so we decided to hang out in Ballroom 20 for the screening of the new show, Terra Nova, and the Futurama panel. Terra Nova is a new show on FOX. Cool concept (people from the future travel in time to restart civilization in prehistoric times), but I thought the pilot was boring. After this, we headed for the ticket fulfillment room to redeem our gift for sitting in on the Futurama panel – just a button.

But, on our way there, we ran into Nikita actress, Maggie Q! After this, we took another stroll through the exhibit hall for more free schwag. Guys were pooped, so we headed back to the hotel and ordered some pizza delivery from Dominoes.

It was Saturday night, and the biggest Hollywood party goes down at Hotel Solamar in the Gaslamp. Because of yearly tradition, I had to go. Lucy, K and I were the only ones that made it out and we were able to catch glimpses of the cast of Eureka, Sanctuary, Haven and Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. The most famous celeb there, however, was eating at a restaurant across the street. Jonah Hill! We called it a night early and headed back for the hotel.

Sunday

K and I got about 2 hours of sleep before we headed for the 2012 registration line back at the convention center. I think we’ve already established that we were crazy. K and I attempted to sleep on cement on the marina at 2:30am before being herded over into a room in the Hyatt. At 8:15, K and I were the only members of our group with guaranteed passes to next year’s Comic Con!

We headed back to the room to clean up and then went back out to the exhibit hall in hopes to get a poster tube from the FOX booth. On our way there, we saw the cast of Glee signing at the booth! I love Darren Criss! Who knew he was so petite in person?

Lucy, K and I had a late flight out on Sunday, so we killed time in Hall H and sat in on The Cleavland Show and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia panels. And that was the wrap to our Comic Con experience.

Overall perception of Comic Con – still awesome.

Here’s a group pic we took at the Nerd HQ photo booth. Can’t wait for next year!

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We’re going to Comic Con!

Other than food and traveling, K and I are major nerds. Video games, super hero movies, sci-fi tv shows, board games – we’re pretty deep in the nerd territory. This will be the 3rd year K and I attend Comic Con, and it never fails to be the BEST. WEEK. EVER.

There are a million things going on during the con, and to ensure we hit it all, we must come prepared. So, I’ve put together a little list to share how I get prepared for the greatest event of the year. Check it out:

  1. Create a schedule. There’s so much going on at this conference, I have to write up a schedule to ensure I see everything I want to see.
  2. Make some sacrifices. There are often times where 2 interesting panels are going on at the same time in 2 separate locations. For example, The Amazing Spiderman panel in Hall H and the True Blood panel in Ballroom 20. So after battling a mini internal dilemma, I’ve decided to check out the Spiderman panel.
  3. Be prepared to wait in lines. Lines suck, and there’s no way to avoid them. If you’re planning to hit up a hyped up Hall H panel, be prepared to wait in line at least 1 hour before the panel begins.
  4. Research the party scene. I love love love the celebrity watching at Comic Con. I like to describe this event as celeb Disneyland because there’s so many of them and they’re all over the Gaslamp district. Since I cannot figure out how an average civilian like me get into any of the celeb parties, my girlfriends and I are planning to hang outside the red carpet in hopes of meeting one of our favorite characters from our favorite movies and TV shows. My eyes are peeled for Zachary Levi (Chuck), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Lea Michele (Glee) and the cast of True Blood.
  5. Be connected through social media. A lot of industry peeps have been tweeting about the event, and Twitter is where I found most of the celeb parties – the Aushole party hosted by Michael Ausiello, NBC After-Party Access Event ticket contest and the infamous SyFy/E! party location. If one day, I figure out how to get into the SyFy party, I would be complete. My eyes are currently glued to Jon Favreau’s twitter account for the Cowboys and Aliens premiere tickets. See below for my Twitter list.
  6. Wear comfortable shoes. There’s a lot of running back and forth at this conference, so I wear comfortable shoes. I will be participating in the NerdQuest scavenger hunt this year, and I’ll be sure to have my game shoes on. I have to win!
  7. Bring a comic/book/smart phone/DS/PSP/iPad/tablet/etc. Have I mentioned that there are lines? I could be waiting in line for 2 hours to see a panel, and I’ll need something to keep me entertained! Usually I play with a DS or my iPhone, but this year, I may pull out the iPad.
  8. Research coinciding events. As if there isn’t enough to do at Comic Con, there are coinciding events. I found out about Zachary Levi’s NerdHQ event via Twitter and now it’s become one of the most anticipated activities for the whole con. This event is a casual hangout place where fellow nerds can gather in a more intimate setting and share their interests for technology, gaming and entertainment. They’ve set up “conversations” in sessions of about 200 people or so with a handful of celebs where fans can purchase for $20 (all proceeds go to Operation Smile). I, myself, purchased tickets to see Zachary Quinto speak with his group, Before the Door. After the convo, most of the celebs are planning to stick around for an autograph signing. It’s a win-win!
  9. Bring a camera. At any moment, I could fall upon my favorite celeb. I’ll be sure to have my camera empty and charged so I don’t miss any of those special moments.
  10. Buy tickets for the next con! It’s almost impossible to purchase Comic Con tickets online. Servers crash, tickets sell out, etc. So, I avoid all of the stress by buying tickets for the next con at the present. The bad news is that ticket prices are going up. 4-day with preview night is going up to $175 as opposed to the usual $105. The guys at Comic Con are smart because no matter what, I’ll still purchase tickets.

Check out my Twitter list for all things SDCC.

@Comic_Con
@thenerdmachine
@MichaelAusiello
@Jon_Favreau
@ZacharyLevi

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