Food Excursion: Oriental Dragon

This time we visited a restaurant known for their mixture of Japanese and Chinese styled foods.  They have a reasonably priced sushi buffet to go along with that theme.  Neither of us opted for the buffet, but I did get one order of sushi rolls to try them out.

Oriental Dragon Rockford Website

Our order consisted of:
- Chicken with Mushroom
- Crab Rangoon (8 pc.)
- Spring Roll (2 pc.)
- Hot and sour soup
- Beef with Mushroom
- Spicy Salmon Roll

Prices per entree were around $10 and smaller items such as appetizers were close to $5.  With a tip, this place is in line with similar ones.  It can get a little pricy if you order multiple dishes and are big tipper.  The restaurant is a bit small, but with a nice fit and finish.  The tables had a wood grain finish and everything in the restaurant seemed to be in good condition.

Spicy Salmon Roll
The spicy salmon rolls were very good.  The taste was mild yet still flavorful.  I'm not a fan of wasabi and ginger, so I ate the rolls as is without garnish.  I get to experience the true flavors of the sushi this way.

Beef with Mushroom
The main entree I ordered was the beef with mushroom.  Very similar to what I had at a previous restaurant called Imperial Palace.  Overall, I'd say this was slightly more to my liking, but both were very similar in taste and presentation. 

Rice that comes with the meals.
The bowl of rice, while still not like what is served in Japan, was pretty decent and not too dry.  The Crab Rangoon were probably one of the better preparations of that common appetizer I've experienced in a long time.  The Rangoon's wrappers were soft and fresh, making them much easier to enjoy.  At other places, usually the wrappers are tough and hard.  This might be a matter of how long they are cooked. These seemed like they were cooked enough, but not too much.

Hot and Sour Soup

Chicken with Mushroom
The CVFTA member who ordered the Chicken with Mushroom dish said that it wasn't what he expected.  The chicken was fried, which gave it an unusual texture or taste he wasn't too fond of.

Oriental Dragon is yet another American Chinese styled restaurant in the area worth visiting.  The added benefit is that they have additional menu items like sushi that works well for a group of people with different tastes.

Convention Report: Anime Apocalypse 2012

Hey there!  CVFTA just visited another convention.  This time it was a new smaller convention in Rockford, Illinois called "Anime Apocalypse" that happened from the 21st to 23rd of December at a hotel called the Clock Tower Resort.  Maybe you can see the Mayan calendar doomsday reference there?  We are still alive, so that didn't pan out for the doomsday theorists, but we did have a nice convention to attend and my photos taken there will be appreciated instead of burned in an apocalyptic world ending cinder.

Anyways, I enjoyed the convention and will certainly be back next year (maybe under a different convention name this time?) if it turns into a reoccurring thing.  For me, it is close enough that I don't have to fork out the expense of a room, which is great.  Not often does that happen, but it is a welcome occurrence.  I was able to attend at least a few hours of all three days.

My photos from the event:
Friday General
Cosplay Auction
Saturday General
Cosplay Contest
Sunday General

Facebook (you can tag yourself after liking the page):
Friday General
Cosplay Auction
Saturday General
Cosplay Contest
Sunday General

Gallery site:
Friday General
Cosplay Auction
Saturday General
Cosplay Contest
Sunday General

The convention was one of the smaller ones I had been to, but it still had a nice turnout.

I took a considerable number of cosplay photos and I also attended a few panels and events.  The links to all of the photos are above, but here are a few highlights of the convention:

I met a few members of the photography group called The Enthusiasts that had a photo booth setup.  A nice group of people.  Check them out at conventions for photos if you get the chance.

I attended a few panels and events such as the cosplay auction for PAWS benefit, cosplay contest, cosplay photography, Robotech, prop safety and etiquette, foam sword battles, Super Tokusatsu, and intermediate cosplay construction.  All of them were interesting and worth checking out.

Probably the best part of the convention, besides being a short drive for me, was the staff.  They were polite and hassle free.  I never once had any issues and was able to photograph things like the cosplay auction without any restriction.  It was a pleasant change from larger conventions.

Here is my convention photography article on this convention.

Here is also a video I put together about my photography there:


Vito's Ristorante Excursion

For this excursion we went to a place called Vito's Ristorante.  As you can probably surmise from the name, it is an Italian styled restaurant.  This time our crew was three CVFTA members strong!  After an hour or more of deliberation, we decided on a restaurant near Vito's, but ended up going here instead.  While both, I'm sure, would have been good options and we will probably visit the other one someday, I'm glad we checked out this restaurant first.

Their website:

The restaurant had an intimate and formal atmosphere, but didn't come with the high-end cost you would expect.

We had visited at what appeared to be a low traffic time, which is great for us because we take photos of our food.  I'm glad to say that, so far, not one place has hassled us about that.

Their menu is simple and focused on a few Italian staples like pastas and sandwiches that used Italian breads.

I had the Portabella Sandwich with fries and berry flavored iced tea.

Marinated portabella mushroom, served on ciabatta bread
It looks refreshing, doesn't it?

You might expect the bread that looks like that to be a bit dry, but it wasn't.  It had just the right level of bite and flavor to it to not be a detriment to the sandwich.  The mushrooms were plentiful and flavorful enough to be enjoyed.  The berry flavored tea was simple and unsweetened.  It had a subtle  mild flavor, but was very refreshing. Scott S. aka. Sai had Chicken Bruschetta Sandwich with fries and Linguine Alfredo with salad.

Grilled chicken breast topped with homemade bruschetta, and provolone cheese
Linguine pasta with a homemade garlic cream sauce
Sai's salad that came with the pasta.

Erik had the Bruschetta appetizer , and linguine alfredo with shrimp.  We joked about the massive portion of pasta and how there might be a black hole warp inside that keeps refilling the bowl. 

Linguine pasta with a homemade garlic cream sauce


Erik shared his Bruschetta, so I had a chance to see what it was like.  It is something simple yet really great once you start eating it.  The bread pieces are hard, but only on the first few crunches.  Along with the salsa, it make a great tasty combination that is surprisingly good from something so simple.

The waitress was extremely helpful and quick to give us refills or see how we were doing.  A nice place for lunch or dinner depending on what style of dining you prefer.


Imperial Palace Food Excursion

I'm a bit slow with articles lately, but now is a good a time as any to get caught up!  Around two weeks ago, a fellow member of CVFTA and I went to a local restaurant called Imperial Palace.  While researching restaurants, I accidentally named this restaurant as one that had a certain buffet we had heard about.  I was wrong, but it seemed like a good a place as any to check out, so we did.

 Here is their website:

Their menu is what you would expect from what I like to call "American Chinese" restaurants.  They have all of the expected dishes and are generally around the same price and usually pretty similar in taste.

I had ordered the Imperial Beef.  It came with the classic supplement of beef, which is mushrooms.

Sai had ordered what I think it might have been Hunan Beef. He also ordered an appetizer of Crab Rangoon.

Each lunch came with fried or white rice, soup, and a single Crab Rangoon.

Some extras with the meal like these fried chips that go well with the soup.

The one benefit of this place is that you have a more traditional restaurant atmosphere compared to most others that are more styled toward the fast food motif.  On the reverse side, that means you will be tipping a waitress.  The staff was friendly and helpful.  It's a nice place to visit for a relaxing lunch. 
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