Like previous years of FanimeCon that took place in downtown San Jose, plenty of restaurants near the San Jose Convention Center were ready to feed the over 25,000 attendees attending the annual anime convention. Additionally, smart attendees came to FanimeCon (Or just Fanime for short) stocked with their own provisions to help them survive the anime convention.
Given how vital it is to remain well fed during an anime convention, it’s amazing how many attendees tend to either starve themselves or attempt to live on a diet of Pocky, instant ramen, and cheap fast food. Partly it’s because attending an anime convention like Fanime is expensive and attendees feel that the food budget would cut into their hotel budget, transportation budget, and shopping budget. Additionally, attendees find themselves too busy partaking in the various activities that a convention like Fanime has to offer that they feel that they don’t have time to eat anything beyond instant snacks and overpriced/overcooked San Jose Convention Center food.
But if attendees would make time and money to having decent meals during their time at Fanime, they’d realize that they could better enjoy it. Often a good time at the convention is ruined when starvation and malnourishment pains hit the attendee. Additionally, a good meal is a chance to slow down from the fast pace of an anime convention.
So here were a few moments of quality dining during a weekend of Fanime. Only restaurants or venues personally experienced are listed, though La Victoria gets an honorable mention due to being nearby and tasty portions but was not visited this year due to time restraints.
BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)
A common tactic among anime convention attendees staying in a hotel is to bring their own food. Though some limit themselves to instant ramen and Pocky since they’re non-perishable and fit the anime theme. Researching whether the room has a fridge or taking a heavy duty cooler allows the opportunity to pack fresh and/or perishable food. But in a pinch, common foodstuffs like peanut butter, bread, and fruit will at least provide sustenance. Creative hotel guests may opt to bring crock pots or use the hotel amenities like the coffee maker to prepare meals.
And if you have extra food around, you can always show some goodwill by providing some to fellow attendees in need.
Improvised Hotel Room Recipes
Bringing your own food allows some creative freedom to improvise some delicious snacks or meals. During this year’s FanimeCon, a resourceful attendee with leftover avocados and tomatoes smashed and diced his own guacamole. The addition of Parmesan cheese found outside a discarded room service tray and a packet of Cajun seasoning added a spicy kick and texture. The guacamole was served with chips and spread on sandwiches.
For those who want to be a bit bolder in the hotel room, the coffee maker can make for a handy cooking surface.
A creative donut shop in San Jose, Psycho Donuts is both near the San Jose Convention Center and provided an onsite station for FanimeCon attendees. This year, they provided a couple of interesting desserts that fit the celebration of Asian pop culture.
Psycho Donuts Takoyaki
Japanese takoyaki, consists of a piece of octopus cooked inside a ball of fried dough topped with ginger, tempura scraps, and green onion flecks. Psycho Donuts’ take on takoyaki consisted of a ball of ginger cake drizzled in caramel and topped with lemongrass coconut Bavarian, and toasted pistachio. Not exactly healthy, but it’s a nice edible souvenir of FanimeCon.
Psycho Donuts Sushi
Psycho Donuts’ sushi consisted of four slices of donuts decorated to resemble a sushi bento box. Included are a pair of edible Pocky chopsticks.
McCormick & Schmick’s Happy Hour
McCormick & Schmick’s weekday Happy Hour menu provided some cheap bar food (Pictured: $2.95 hummus) and drinks (Pictured: $7 Apple Martini) that helped attendees relax in an upscale setting. Located along a busy street for the convention, the view outside allowed people to check out the costumed FanimeCon attendees passing by while listening to the non-convention crowd talk among themselves as they wondered what was going on.
Peggy Sue’s for a Hearty Lunch
A FanimeCon tradition, Peggy Sue’s is worth a small walk away from the San Jose Convention Center for a hearty 1/3lb hamburger topped in a variety of 50s styled names (Pictured: $6.69 Hollywood Burger). Fries and a thick milkshake round out this comforting meal. The walk back to FanimeCon will help offset those calories. The place does get busy during the convention weekend, so plan to relax while waiting and perhaps chat with fellow FanimeCon attendees who are also waiting for their food.
Peggy Sue’s is also good for a hearty breakfast.
Flames Late Night Happy Hour
With a late night Happy Hour that slashed appetizers and Flames Libation drinks half off , Flames Eatery & Bar was an excellent spot for a late night birthday celebration during FanimeCon. As an anime fan, the Dragon Ball cooler simply beckoned–though it did not raise any BAC or power levels over 9000. Service was quick as people ordered appetizer after appetizer to share among the table while recalling embarrassing stories about the birthday man.
Dinner for Two at Il Fornaio
Across the street from the San Jose Convention Center and away from the hubbub of FanimeCon, Il Fornaio offered an upscale Italian dining experience for couples or groups celebrating a successful time at FanimeCon. The pictured Cannelloni al Forno that contained chicken, spinach, and béchamel was rich but not heavy. The calming atmosphere was a great escape from the chaos within the anime convention.
Il Fornaio Flight of Grappa
In addition to the decadent desserts of Il Fornaio, the flight of Grappa caused the drinker’s head to ascend to the clouds with gradually increasing strengths of the Italian brandy. The honey flavored one on the far left was delightfully smooth and sweet.
Late Night at Original Joe’s
Capable of accommodating about 17 people after midnight until closing time on Sunday, Original Joe’s is to be commended for serving this wild bunch with enough alcohol, soft drinks, appetizers, and main courses with a smile. While the events that got the group together may have been a chaotic mess, the food and service brought spirits high enough to enjoy the rest of FanimeCon.