2018 Rewind

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog. I’m hoping to somehow restart it since it’s a new year. But before I do that, here’s a look back on how 2018 was for me (yes it’s about to be mid-February Whoops?).

A few highlights from the year:

  • Weddings – A friend of mine that I worked in retail with and also attended nursing school with got married. I was one of the bridesmaids and our friends from SD came up to celebrate, so it was a ton of fun. Near the end of the year, another friend from college got married in Hawaii, which I attended as a guest.

 

  • Travel – Made a few trips to Vegas for my friend’s bachelorette party and for Christmas. Also attended my 10th year at SDCC, which was an awesome experience (as usual). Since one of my friend’s wedding was in Hawaii, my friends and I also took advantage of the days before and after the event to take in sites and get our grub on.

 

 

 

 

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  • Music – I attended quite a few of these events, all of which were firsts. I decided to skip out on Coachella and instead checked out Bottle Rock for one of the days. The drive was long, but seeing celebrities on the culinary stage and also performing on one of the main stages was awesome. As an on and off fan of Korean music, I finally got to check out some artists that came to California. Loved Eric Nam‘s intimate set, and his opener Loote made their way onto my Spotify playlist. I also got to meet him after the show. He’s adorable! TLC was performing at the San Mateo County fair, so a few friends and I jumped in at the chance to see them. No regrets here! They sound just as good as they did back in the 90s. Since last year, I slowly but surely became a fan of BTS, who’s by far the most popular Korean group known in the US to date. After listening to their albums beginning from their debut in 2013, I couldn’t help but be hooked. You could imagine my excitement when I found out they were touring the US. I was able to get tickets to their LA and Oakland shows, (yes, I saw them twice and it was totally worth it) and it was an amazing experience. The Oakland show was a special one since it was the group leader’s birthday the day of. The audience and the guys sang to him and he looked so happy. I also did a last minute upgrade and got incredible seats. It was the closest I could have imagined being near them without having to stand in the GA sections right next to the stage.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • For the ‘Gram – There were a few exhibits that came to SF last year. I visited 29 Rooms and Candytopia. Both were entirely different experiences, but I liked the latter the most because my friends and I left with a good amount of free candy (score).

 

 

 

 

 

Already have a few things in store for this year. And as with every year, I hope to try new things and make more great memories to look back on.

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Good Times and Grub in Vegas

Last month I took my first trip of the year to Vegas with my best friend and met up with more people while we were there. I actually haven’t traveled with her in several years. We have our occasional outings in the Bay Area, but work schedules often make it difficult to plan an actual vacation or quick getaway, so we were both pretty excited about it. We took an evening flight and got picked up by one of her friends, then had dinner at Shake Shack. The bestie had never been there, so it was a good time to take advantage since it wasn’t busy on a Thursday night. We walked off our meal by heading through Monte Carlo (soon to be named Park MGM) and taking the City Center Tram to Bellagio. We took a look at the Chinese New Year display at their conservatory. I loved the huge Husky with the moving tail!

 

 

 

The next morning we had brunch at Truffles N Bacon. I came across them on Instagram and it was a must that we try their Ube French Toast. We lucked out and ordered the last 2. There’s a really good reason why it constantly sells out. Layers of ube bread with ube cream cheese and young coconut in between, topped with condensed milk and a dollop of ube jam make this a pheNOMenal treat for anyone who loves this “purple stuff”. Considering all the ingredients, it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet. I opted for the chicken and waffles instead and it was amazing. I usually don’t have the best tolerance with spicy stuff, but if you visit and order this, try it with their honey sriracha. You won’t regret it!

 

 

 

Our now group of 4 got touristy in the afternoon and rode the Gondola at The Venetian (unnecessary Vegas bucket list activity, check). We also visited their CNY displays. They had another adorably huge dog (a sharpei) located near the waterfall that sits between The Venetian and Palazzo hotels.

Dinner later that evening was at Sushi Neko. Neko is Japanese for “cat”, so there is feline themed decor strewn throughout the restaurant. I found it a bit funny that they were playing K-Pop at a Japanese restaurant, but I was totally feeling it (It even reignited my interested in listening to it. I blame you, BTS). The last time I had all you can eat sushi was ironically in Vegas last year. I didn’t bother keeping track of how many pieces I ate, but I assure you that everything we ordered was good.

 

 

 

Our last whole day together was nothing short of fun filled. We checked out the China Lights display at Craig Ranch Regional Park. If it weren’t for the blustery evening, we would have gone through the whole thing. We decided to head back after watching the Chinese cultural performances.

 

 

We capped off the night at Omnia with a DJ set by Zedd. I haven’t seen him since Coachella in 2014. It was nice to actually see his face from the second level of the club compared to being several hundred people deep in a muggy and dusty tented area.

 

 

 

 

I’ll be back in Vegas within a few months for a bachelorette party, so the experience will be much different compared to this. This was the first time in a while that I’ve visited without having a rental car, so I probably would have gone to more places If I had one. Then again, no matter how many times I’ve been here, I always manage to discover something new. Have any recs for my return trip? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

 

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**I also found out last week that I’ve been on WP for 5 years. The first few were inactive, but I’m glad that I still held onto this account. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with some awesome readers. :)**

My Vegas Gastronomic Adventure

While the majority of my time in Vegas this month was focused on CES, I made it a point to check a few things off my list, and also returned to some favorite food places.

Before I even checked into my HQ for the weekend, my friend and I had a late lunch at Tacos El Gordo.  I actually visited the place 2 days in a row. I have my San Diego friends to thank for introducing me to it.The usual location I go to is located in a plaza across from the Wynn and Encore hotels. They were closed the following day, so we went to their off Strip location on Charleston Blvd. If you haven’t tried their tacos, I suggest that you do next time you’re in town. They’re reasonably priced and really, really good. There are separate lines for tacos inside the restaurant, depending on what your choice of meat is. My normal order consists of 1 each of the asada, lengua, and adobada. The latter is a very popular meat choice, and almost always has a line for it.  I switched things up and added the adobada fries during my 2nd visit. No regrets here. I kinda actually like it a bit more than carne asada fries, which is shocking because that’s what I always get when I’m in SD.

Despite stuffing my face with tacos, I still managed to eat more later in the evening. I had made reservations in advance for an early birthday dinner at Giada’s at the Cromwell. I was seated at the window overlooking The Strip. I heard you can also ask for a view of the Bellagio to see their fountain show if it’s available. The weather was rather windy that evening, so unfortunately it couldn’t be seen. There was an option to choose from either the regular dinner menu or the dinner tasting menu. I picked the former since it was my first time dining there. A plate of assorted breads was brought to my table before I placed my order. I chose the burrata and bacon wrapped dates to start. I have yet to meet a burrata I didn’t like. It had a nice creamy consistency that I happily spread on the parmesan crisps from the bread plate. What’s wrong with double the cheese? The dates were stuffed with Italian sausage and gorgonzola crema. Delish!

The short rib agnolotti with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) sauce was my main course. I noticed that portion sizes here aren’t overwhelming, which was good because I was pretty full by the time I finished this. But of course, I always manage to save a little room for dessert. I’d normally look for something with chocolate in it, but decided on something different with the Limoncello souffle. Good choice for me since it was light and went well with the green tea I ordered. Surprisingly my total for everything was under $100 with tax and tip. Good job, me. I’d love to come back here to try other items from the menu.

One of my friends had often mentioned Hikari, an all you can eat sushi place off the Strip, but we never got a chance to check it out. We made that a plan on the 3rd night of my trip and met up with a few more friends there. For just under $30, you can pick from a selection of sushi and appetizers. Our server checked on us frequently since we ordered a good amount of food. It’s easy to miss a meal when you’re in town for a convention, so I definitely got my fill from here. Quick service and great food sum up my first experience at this place. Might have to make this a CES tradition from here on out.

Two places that I’ve had my eye on since last year, Eggslut and Milk Bar, have recently opened at the Cosmopolitan. Based in Southern California, Eggslut is known for their breakfast sandwiches. The line for this place was expected, but I decided to pass by again later in the day since the length of it reached halfway down the hall towards the restroom. Business wasn’t as busy after 1pm, so I considered it a brunch stop. I got their bacon egg and cheese sandwich (hardwood smoked bacon, cage-free over medium egg, cheddar, chipotle ketchup in a warm brioche bun). I’ve had quite a few breakfast sandwiches, but not like this one. Everything meshed well together flavor-wise, and that runny egg. NOM.

Milk Bar is a popular spot from the East Coast. Their location at Cosmopolitan is one of the first in the West, so I was definitely excited to pay them a visit. In fact, I went there twice since I didn’t have a chance to get everything I wanted to try all at once. I went all out since I most likely wouldn’t find myself here again for a while. Their cereal milk soft serve with corn flake crunch topping, crack pie, corn cookie, and compost cookie are amazing. I have a few more of the cookies to try, but I’m sure they’re just as good, if not better.

I had dinner with relatives on my last night. Bachi Burger is one of the places I try to visit whenever I’m in town. My cousin ordered the oxtail chili cheese fries, which are a must try. The portion size of this is large enough to share with others. I made the mistake of ordering some to go a few years back and barely finished half of it. I normally order the Shogun Burger, which happens to be the most expensive one on their menu for a good reason. Instead, I tried their Kiki’s burger (angus beef patty topped with shiitake, enoki, and eryngii mushrooms, carmelized bacon, sweet onion marmalade, and gruyere, served with garlic chili aoli). Good stuff.

If you’ve made it this far in the post, thanks for reading about my pheNOMenal visit to Sin City. What restaurants in Vegas do you recommend? I’ll add them to my to-eat list for my next visit.

CES 2017

A few weeks ago, I made my annual trip to Las Vegas for the international Consumer Electronics Show (aka CES). This year marks their 50th anniversary of the show, and I also was acknowledged for my attendance to the event for more than 5 years. It didn’t really occur to me until they handed me a 5+ year ribbon for my badge that I’ve been going to this for that long. As with previous years, my main goal was to see what was new at my favorite booths (Sony and Polaroid), and also check out some upcoming products from other brands.

My CES Highlights

Here are a few products that drew my interest at the show. It was a combo of things I had found out about prior to the event, and what I happened to come across during my time there.

Sony Brings on the Bass, Cancels the Noise

Sony is by far one booth that I always have to visit. Ever since I had my first Walkman cassette player, I’ve been long devoted to them for their audio devices. Attendees were able to test out their upcoming Extra Bass line of portable speakers. These range from a 3-inch model to the larger XB models that are waterproof and have Bluetooth capability. Battery life for these speakers ranges from 16-24 hours. The larger models also have lighting effects that can either pulse along with the rhythm of the music being played or be placed in strobe mode.

There was an area of the booth made to look like the inside of an airplane. A new prototype of noise cancelling headphones was available to check out. I wish I had made note of the model number, because they were pretty amazing. While listening to music, you could press down on one side of the headphones to temporarily pause the song and be able to hear someone talking or engage in conversation. Once the pressed side is released, the song and the noise cancelling function resumes.

Polaroid – 80 Years and Still Rolling Out the Gear

As CES celebrated its 50th year running, Polaroid hit its own milestone. Their line of products has long expanded from the first instant cameras. It now includes smart watches, wireless security cameras, 3D printers and pens, and even drones. Soon to release this year is their Pop camera. The nostalgic 3×4 instant camera gets a well deserved upgrade with the addition of a touch screen, 20 megapixel resolution, and filters, just to list a few of its specs. If you’re a fan of the brand or instant cameras in general, this is one to look out for.

Honorable Mentions: These Gadgets Deserve Props!

The following are products that I looked for after seeing posts about them via social media. They have also received acknowledgement and/or have been awarded distinction among the best of CES for this year.

Razer’s Project Valerie: Not Your Average Gaming Laptop

The PC gaming company Razer featured this as one of their 2 anticipated  product prototypes for the show. This is the first gaming laptop to include a triple 4K screen display. When closed, it’s also comparable to a regular 17 inch laptop. Whether used for gaming or general computer multitasking, this is a PC user’s dream come true.

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Willow Pump, A Wearable Breast Pump

When I first mentioned this product, friends were quick to ask if I was hinting at something. No, I’m not with or am planning on having a child, yet. To be extremely honest, I was drawn to this device mainly because I have seen the scenarios one too many times. By that I mean I’ve had co-workers, classmates, and friends either excuse themselves to pump in the restroom or do so while hiding out in their cars. Pumping devices generally aren’t very pleasing to the eye with the tubes, cords, and often bulky appearance altogether. But imagine being able to provide nourishment for your child without having to strap something on or deal with the cords and tubes getting in the way. This product allows moms to do just that, except hands free. More info about this awesome product can be found on their website.

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Super Retro Boy Is The Game Boy Savior

Are you like me and have a small/big collection of previously released Nintendo Game Boy devices? If so, you’ve probably noticed some minor differences between the game cartridges made for them. The folks at retro-bit have developed a gaming device similar to that of this portable console that will allow users to play all Game Boy games on it without the use of any additional adapter. And the MSRP for it is pretty reasonable. This is one to add to my wishlist!

And that’s my 2017 CES experience in a nutshell. If you’ve kept up with news about the show, let me know if there was anything that sparked your interest.

Highlights of CES 2016

I’m rewinding a bit to the beginning of the year with this post. For those who haven’t heard of the International CES (Consumer Electronics Show), it’s an annual event held in Las Vegas. Thousands of industry attendees from around the world go here to check out the latest in technology.

Aside from being immersed in exhibit halls full of tech, there are also off-site events that take place during the week of the convention. One that I got to check out was the Monster Retailer Awards, which was immediately followed by live performances. This year’s theme was a tribute to Michael Jackson. Magic Johnson and Christina Milian were the emcees for the evening. Performers included Ne-Yo, Joe Perry from Aerosmith, and The Jacksons. I would have never guessed I’d see MJ’s brothers perform live, ever! They are currently on tour in the US.

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Had to record some of the Jackson’s awesome set.

Had some more fun at CES the following day. I checked out the demo of the Force Band at the Sphero booth. It’s to be used in conjunction with their BB-8  via Bluetooth in order to control it, and is to be released later this year.

The Intel booth once again used their RealSense technology to make avatars of attendees for the game Fallout 4. Last year they used it to make laser etched cubes.

I also made sure to stop by the Polaroid booth and get a few photos taken. Let’s just say that I was very happy to be there. 😛

One thing that was in abundance this year were drones. From the widely known remote controlled ones to one that you can actually get inside of. Even Polaroid has their version of one! Check out c|net’s article about them.

Here are a few more photos of what I saw and experienced during the event.

 

CES is a great reason to geek out in Vegas. I’ve visited for this purpose more in the past few years than my usual leisurely trip (unless it’s with family), and that’s totally fine with me. Of course, I made sure to check out food places and get in some shopping during my down time. Looking forward to next year if I decide to return.

Bachi Burger: Go Big or Go Home!

Although my trip to Vegas was mainly for CES, I also made sure to see family that lived in the area. After the last day of the convention, I had dinner with my cousin and my niece. His mom (my aunt) had suggested that I try Bachi Burger whenever I came back. A few friends had also recommended the place, so there really wasn’t any legit reason not to go there. Thanks to one of said friend’s posts on Instagram, I immediately became determined to try their Shogun Burger.

This pheNOMenal burger contains the following:

  • Wagyu Beef
  • Unagi
  • Pan Seared Foie Gras
  • Poached Asian Pear
  • Miso Butter
  • Yamamomo Peach (served on the side)

Prior to this experience, I had never tried foie gras. Thank you California for preventing me from doing so (although the ban on it had just recently been lifted while I was out of town, score!). Let me tell you, this burger was a definite flavor explosion. A mix of sweet and salty, and the foie gras and unagi blended all too well alongside the Wagyu patty. No wonder it’s the most expensive burger on the menu at $26. Aside from the Kate Spade purse I bought at the outlets, this was a splurge that was well deserved. Needless to say, I finished every bite of that burger. I even ordered their oxtail chili cheese fries to go. Be warned, going to town on that alone will fill you up quickly! The portion they give you is really made to be shared. So, will I return here? Most definitely.

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The Shogun Burger
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Oxtail Chili Cheese Fries