Tag Archives: Baltimore

Otakon Ahoy!

26 Jul

Sorry, no events for this weekend. Be at Otakon, or be square!

Time for some BASS CANNON!

And please message me @iSaunter on Twitter if you’re there. I’d love to meet my readers!

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District [Sushi] Geek – Episode 2

25 Aug

Located on the Inner Harbor, Edo Sushi has a second-floor, panoramic full-window view of Baltimore’s central iconic landmark.  The Harbour itself is home to warships, water taxis, street performers, and the Baltimore Aquarium.  In the ring of land that forms the harbor, there are shops as well as many restaurants.  Most are chains, and some are better than others.  Edo Sushi is one such chain (though I believe it is limited to Maryland), and that is where I had dinner on Otakon Friday*.
The first impression always lasts, and I witnessed a few slip-ups.  First, I tried to enter the restaurant via the stairs facing the harbor. Apparently all the doors on that side of Edo are locked, and I had to cut through another restaurant to get into the walkway that led to Edo.  When I stepped inside and told the hostess about my booking, she flatly stated that they took no reservations on Otakon weekend.  Although I understand why they should and did do that, I called one month prior to Otakon to ask about reservations, and I was told that it was fine and was booked.  I called the week before Otakon and was reassured that my dinner time was set.  Despite this failure in communication, they had open tables and my friend and I were seated promptly.  Service continued to be shabby, with two separate waitresses asking us for drinks orders.  Said drinks took their sweet time in arriving.
There was no real décor, per se.  I vaguely remember some Japanese art, but the most Japanese thing about the restaurant were the sushi chef coats that the male wait staff wore (or it may have been the chefs, pulling double duty?).  The chopsticks were run of the mill, and the soy sauce was straight from the Kikoman bottle.  The menu was quite large, offering many surf and turf options, in additional to traditional sushi shop fare.  As my friend could only stay a short while, I passed on starters and ordered three sushi rolls.   As I enjoy trying the ‘locale specials’, I ordered the Chesapeake Roll (Lump crabmeat, fried oyster & cucumber with special sauce), as well as an Eel roll and a Yellowtail roll.  And of course I got a couple of fish egg nigiri with quail egg on top.  They’re so squishy and tasty!
 
The rolls came in two separate orders, and the most obvious issue with them was the size.  They were massive!  Each roll had to be two inches in diameter.  When I tried to pick up a section, I saw that the probable cause for its ginormity was because the roll was not packed at all.  Nearly every other roll fell apart, no matter how gently I tried to lift it.  They literally barely fit in my mouth, so most had to be eaten in parts.  For the Chesapeake, this was fine, as the fried oyster nested inside was the best part.  I would recommend that anyone going to Edo just get an order or two of them and forgo the sushi.  The crabmeat/rice mush left from the roll was then my second bite.  The rice itself had little flavor, and the wasabi was not very spicy.  The eel and yellowtail rolls tasted fine, but they, too were just very difficult to eat.
 edo sushi
I found no fault with my nigiri. It looks like the simple rolls may be fine to order as well.
 
In summary, I would not return to this chain.   Although the fried oysters were great, and I bet they do a mean crab cake, there are other seafood establishments in the Harbor that I’d rather try.
If you had a different impression of Edo Sushi, or know of a better place in Baltimore let me know!
 
I’ll be posting more reviews in the coming weeks, as Groupon has been quite kind to me.  Half price sushi is extra tasty!
*To be honest, I mistook Edo to be KonaGrill, a wonderful restaurant with good noodles and a dark, classy ambiance.  (It, too, is a chain and national to boot.)
 

DistrictGeek’s post-Otakon Report 2011, Part II!

16 Aug

And now, part two of my Otakon 2011 venture! (Otakon 2011 Part I is here)

EAR! OMNOMNOM!

Saturday

Brookshire suites has a Shark Mascot and a free buffet breakfast which drew me in.  After our impromptu photo shoot, I wolfed down some grease and spent the day in my Gatomon (Digimon) costume.  Predictably, the first thing I did back at the con was to queue once more.  This time it was for a Baby, The Stars Shine Bright (BTSSB) and Alice and the Pirates fashion show, which featured Japanese Lolita fashion.  I met more local Lolis there, and they convinced me that Lolita is a branch of costuming that I would like to venture down.

I then made time in my schedule to visit the dealers hall by skipping the showing of Trigun: Badlands Rumble.  Afterwards, I joined in a fur-meet (to show off my catgirl outfit) and visited a Lolita clothing swap.  It was at that point that I realized I hadn’t eaten in eight hours.  I dashed off to my hotel for a bite and then it was back to queue for the US Premiere of Fullmetal Alchemist: the Sacred Star of Milos.  In contrast to Shamballa, this movie was exciting, fit well with FMA: Brotherhood, and cued a lot of insane cheering when certain well-loved characters appeared.  The action, though repetitive (and becoming a lot like Harry Potter) was exciting and gory.  I would highly recommend seeing it when Funimation releases it to US theatres.

(For those interested, a good SPOILER-full review of Otakon FMA Milos is here.)

The Masquerade literally fills the lower level of Baltimore’s sports arena as costumed otaku hold their talent show.  This event can be awesome, but also sometimes awful.  Hence, I allowed it to pass without me.  Instead I decided to hit the rave again.
At 10pm I queued for a Midnight Burlesque show.  It was a packed house; the combination of anime cosplay and a peep show was distinctive and worth the wait.
Sunday
The final morning of Otakon always has a bit of a slower pace, and the halls are lined with people wanting hugs.  There are still panels and a replay of the Anime Music Video contest, but I managed to miss everything either because the venue was full (damn thinking I didn’t need to queue Sunday!) and picking up my art from the show.  I sold 6 of 9 pieces, at a net loss of $10, but I found it an educational experience for my first entry.  I then got sucked into the art auction, where the most successful pieces in the art show were sold.  To the chagrin of many competing otaku, I kept my hand up for one piece.  Now, I have a Catbus Sleeping on telephone wires above my bed.

Mineeee<3333333

I made my way out at 1pm, with the auction still in full swing.  It’s always a bit of a downer to go, but as I looked back at all that I saw and did, all who I met and how much money I spent, and I was content.  I did all I wanted to and started some great friendships which I hope will continue.  One unique thing about conventions is that even if you only ever see your con buddies the following year, you still know that you’ll have some great people to hang out with next time.  In the meantime, the interwebz is always here.

DistrictGeek’s post-Otakon Report 2011

11 Aug
Otakon 2011

Time to Tofu Race!

Otakon’s attendance this year was 31,348. Though not as big as ComicCon, this event is pretty intense, if not overwhelming for the uninitiated. Otakon is an anime convention named after Otaku, the geeks that love anime. And there are tens of thousands that show up to this con every year, taking over the Baltimore Convention Center, the 1stMariner Arena, the Inner Harbour, and all hotels within at least fifteen minutes’ travel. Most attendees dress up, either in costumes of their favourite characters or memes. It’s Halloween with a Japanese flair. There are always a sea of coloured wigs and men(*1) and women dressed in skimpy schoolgirl skirts. Though some buy their outfits, I am one of the many at con that enjoys both making and wearing costumes:

Ahhah, it's me, DistrictGeek!

The con is so huge that you can’t nearly begin to do everything you want. Instead, it is quite typical to queue for an hour before any major event that you wish to see. Compounding this issue is the fact that the schedule only comes out a week or two before the convention (owing to the epic scheduling done to fit hundreds of events into only three days). It goes viral as soon as it’s released: a massive offering of anime, fashion shows, panels, workshops, autograph sessions and concerts. But that’s not all! The Dealers Hall and Artist Alley are both the size of aircraft hangars, and they take hours to peruse. Add in photo shoots for all the epic group pictures of themed costumes, and your schedule is so full that eating and sleeping can be easily forgotten(*2).

I left for Otakon with a handwritten, double-sided schedule in hand. There were room for edits and additions. I knew what I wanted to do, but had no idea if I could get it all in. Here is how I fared:

(this isn't mine, dur)

Thursday

Though commonly only used for those coming early to pre-register the night before the con, this year Otakon hosted a Matsuri street festival. I wanted to go but I worked Thursday, which made it nigh impossible to fight through rush hour and get there in time. From all accounts it had cosplay and food and awesome, and I plan to check it out next year.

Photo Shoot!

Friday

Registration began at 8am. I got up early, planning to arrive around 9, even though my first Group photo shoot (Katekyo Hitman Reborn) was at 10. This was cutting it extremely tight, as depending on your luck the registration line could take hours, not to mention that the path was wide open to the sweltering summer sun. I was insanely lucky and was able to walk right up to the reg, get my badge, and catch the tail end of the photo shoot. Then I ran over to the Brony (MLP: FIM) meetup and hung out with a bunch dudes (and a few chicks) who love My Little Pony.

Dash's whup-ass!

Costumes, stickers and songs abounded. However, I knew my schedule was packed and darted down to submit some pieces I painted to the Art show, where Otaku bid on pieces by artists who may not necessarily have had an actual table in the Artist Alley. I quickly perused one lane of the Alley, and by then my hotel room was ready. I got a Brookshire Suite, which, though a few blocks from the Convention Center, was across the street from the outdoor fountains, a hub for photo shoots in the evening when it was cooler out.

I had a quick bite and returned to queue an hour for the Sixh fashion show.Sixh is an H.Naoto clothing line, focusing on Japanese punk and Gothic Lolita style. I happened to sit next to Youko Sunshine, an amazing model who has been to so many con fashion shows that she’s been barred from participating in any more in the US. Though unfortunate for her, she was willing to throw my name into the hat, as I had applied to be a model but did not succeed this year. The show itself was fun and enlightening; it was a great way to see how Gothic fashion is evolving in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Goths clap?!

By this time I had missed a travel-to-Japan panel and the Reddit meetup, but I didn’t feel that they were top priority. I did a more thorough run-through of Artist Alley, and then met an old high school friend for sushi (Edo Sushi meal review here) before going back to the queue – this time for the Ultimate Lolita fashion show. It may not be the Ultimate, but this show is always great, as it displays many local and self-starting Lolita designers, not to mention that and the amount of clothing is much higher than that of the professional shows at Otakon. It inspired me to try and make a Victorian Pirate outfit for this year’s Renaissance Festival, so we shall see if I can get it done in time!

So ... frilly ...

While in queue and at the second fashion show, I missed a screening of member-created Anime Music Videos, the Thundercats Premiere on the Hub, the Chemistry concert and a Digimon photo shoot. But there was still one thing that I wanted to do: the Otaku Rave. Yes. Otaku. Rave. Because many of the anime fans fit in to the jailbait category, there were masses of teens clad in neon, rainbows, fur boot covers and glowsticks. The music was great to begin, but at midnight a girl in a long teal wig came in and tried to play anime songs. No one was amused, and there was no beat. It was a mass exodus.

Mrow!

… To be continued Tuesday!

*1 – Picture by Bluebell-Ren at Deviant Art

*2 – Food is easy to come by, but time is not.  After a few years, I found that having sandwich fixins at the hotel, and carrying fruit, a power bar and 5 hour energy drink is the way to go.  Every time I went to my hotel room, I made sure to eat.  Still, it wasn’t often.

Being Social: the Weekend of 07.29.11‏

28 Jul

Really, you shouldn’t be doing anything other than going to Otakon this weekend if you live anywhere near DC or Baltimore.  And if you’re coming into town for this con, let me know!  I’ve been prepping for this con for the past couple of weeks, hence the lack of posts.  I’ll try and do more soon, including a recap of the con!

Otakon 2011

This year's theme: NASCAR?

(For the unaware, Otakon is a Convention of the Otaku generation, aka MASSIVE ANIME GATHERING. This consists of screenings of anime, panels on every interest imaginable, costumes, contests, and tons of stuff to buy.  There will likely be around 30,000anime fans in Baltimore for this, and it centers around the Convention Center, though Otaku also take over 1st Mariner Arena and the Inner Harbour with their festivities.  Even if you don’t buy a ticket to enter the convention center, just walking around near this place will be sure to yield a ton of costumed anime geeks.)
 
For those of you unable to attend, there isn’t much going on in DC. Here’s what I found:

July 30

12-8pm

Hipster Camp at the Capitol Skyline hotelIf you ever wanted to say you’re trendy, go for a bout of immersion at this really strange pool party. Maybe youll find something you were a fan of for years before it was cool.  Yeah. (via WaPo)

1pm

Rockstar Mayhem Festival at Jiffy Lube Live will feature Disturbed, Godsmack, Megadeath, Machine Head, In Flames, Trivium and more. Woohoo \m/   (via WaPo)

7pm

Manchester United vs. FC Barcelona at FedEx Field. If you wanted to see European soccer without the danger involved in massive fan rivalries, youve got a chance in Landover, Maryland this weekend.  (via WaPo)

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh

July 31

11am

You may not have heard of the Washington Kastles, a really odd celebrity tennis team, but at their stadium
this weekend there will be a Celebrity Soccer Challenge.  Check the website to see if you know anyone playing.  And even if you don’t, it’s for charity, right?  (via WaPo)

8pm

Like I said, I didn’t find much to do. Your last option is to see Dolly Parton in concert at Wolf Trap. Yee-hah!