POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, September 17, 2013 Share
I was up bright and early Saturday morning to meet up with some friends for a big geek trip to Orlando. I had a good excursion planned for my Meetup group called Tampa Otaku. Orlando has a fairly large Japanese population so you can find authentic Japanese goods , food, and markets so that influenced my decision to go.
We left around 10am and arrived at our first stop on E. Colonial Dr called Sci-Fi City. Walking inside I spotted the usual stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings memorabilia, but nothing really too exciting. The main focus was a few tables with gamers engaged in nerdy conversations as they played RPGs, and I believe the game being played was Warhammer. I played Dungeon & Dragons in 1979 when I was in elementary school and then I switched to Cyperpunk, Call of Cthulhu, and Paranoia during my high school years at Robinson.
Sometime in 1992, just a few years after graduation, I gave up on RPGs and havenít returned to it since.
Sci-Fi City had lots of comics with the usual DC and Marvel comics that I donít really care about. The reason I got in Japanese manga is because manga is a departure from the usual superhero stuff.
Browsing through Sci-Fi City, it was a letdown for me. It is a good place for a Meetup group to gather before going off somewhere else. To be fair they did have a really small Anime DVD section but that was it. It is definitely not a store that I would go out of my way to see again. I was hoping for Sci Fi collectibles instead of just a basic comic store.
Next it was time for lunch. We headed to Steak N Shake. I was sitting next to a 19-year old who confessed to me that he had only been an otaku for 2-years. So I had to replace all my old man fan references with something current.
I did get adventurous by ordering a Vanilla and Chocolate Coke. Steak N Shake now has a chocolate syrup option.
We all had a great time over lunch discussing all things anime past and present and sharing strange stories of Japan.
After lunch we were off to see Anime Orlando, also on E. Colonial. Arriving, I noticed with dread how small the store was. The average bedroom is larger. Browsing inside, they had lots of expensive toys, used manga in English for five bucks, and the usual key chains with cute characters. Nothing really stood out for me. I blame online streaming for this; there was no DVD/Blu-ray section.
There was another room that had a table with children assembling plastic models. I think the main draw for the store is that they do have lots of plastic models for sell.
However the cool part of Anime Orlando was off to the side where they were a few glass cases with goods for sell. You can rent a case and display your goods for sell. I did see some interesting stuff from sellers in the cases but nothing that was screaming out buy me.
I picked up a cheap Hatsune Miku poster and an old copy of Hobby Japan, a magazine about mechs and plastic models in Japanese. Anime Orlando is not a store to go out of your way to see.
Now it was time to head to W. Colonial Dr for Orlando Chinatown. We when got there I saw that Chinatown is basically a strip mall with Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese businesses lined up together.
We went to 1st Oriental Supermarket that appeared to have once been a Publix and looked around. I always have a good time making fun of products inside Asian markets. There was the foul smelling fruit called Durian in the freezer as Durian Ice Cream, alongside Jackfruit popsicles.
There were tons of crazy snacks like Big Gluten Ball and Vegetarian Meat. I love looking for the funny drinks. I saw Grass Jelly in the can, Commando Energy drink without Arnold on the can, Bird Nest Soup: White Fungus flavor and my favorite was Virgin Coconut juice. This caused me to ponder if coconuts are capable of having sex and why the virgin should taste better.
1st Oriental Supermarket does have a lot of Japanese products and is well worth the trip.
The only thing I was skeptical about was the small Kpop and DVD section of the store that had Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies for sell. The lady running this small store told me that the Bruce Lee DVD pack had all 14 of his movies. I didnít bother to point out that Lee only made 5 movies. The others had to be cheap knockoffs.
Close to the supermarket was the 89 cent store. I love flea markets and thrift stores and Goodwill so I wanted to see it. The 89 cent store is where products go to die. They had awful Bruce Lee wall scrolls with bad coloring from Southeast Asia. They had 89 cent sexy womenís underwear and 89 cent padded bras. This made me think of all the massage parlors in the area and if the workers bought there sexy attire here. After looking through cheap stuff it was time for dinner.
We went to Sapporo Ramen for authentic ramen noodles. I ordered the Miso and Tonkotsu (pork bone) broth with the toppings for the miso broth that included a fish cake, bean sprouts, corn, pork slices, and vegetables. It was so good and was just like the ramen I had in Japan. I was convinced that I would never find good authentic ramen in the US until I went to Sapporo Ramen. Definitely a restaurant to check out in Orlando and no it isnít the cheap supermarket Top Ramen noodles.
We decided to return to 1st Oriental Supermarket for another look.
1st Oriental Supermarket also has a Bubble Tea station and one of my friends tried Taro Root and said it was good. I should have but I was too full.
After that and looking for cheap kung fu shoes at a nearby Vietnamese market, which they didnít have, it was time for karaoke.
We drove to Q Karaoke and had a blast there. We all sang Jpop songs and I really need to study my kanji because whenever a kanji I couldnít read was lite up there was silence from me until the next character in the hiragana alphabet was lite up, so my singing had gaps between words. I did sing Turning Japanese by The Vapors because it seemed to fit. I also sang one of my favorite 80ís rock songs, Journeyís Donít Stop Believiní.
Sometime after 11pm it was time to say goodbye to all and head out for the long ride back to Tampa. It was a fun trip and I would love to see other Japanese businesses and pop culture stores in Orlando.
Until next time,
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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