With all that has happened in the past three weeks, my trip to the East Coast almost seems like a distant memory….
Doing three shows in three consecutive weeks is definitely an incredible experience, but it is also a very tasking one. I try my best to recall every important detail that happened on my journeys but it is a lot to filter through. Thankfully I have all these photos to help jog my memory. When I look back on the entire year that was 2014, I’m confident in knowing that this three-week period will probably be one of the real highlights. It is times like this when I realize that what I’m doing is important to the rest of the world. I mean, who seriously would get paid to travel all over the country just to judge a car show and do event coverage? That’s pretty incredible. I’m loving life right now because I think my hard work has truly paid off and I’m getting rewarded for it. Every city I go to and every event that I experience is just another great story in my lifetime and also a tale for me to tell all of you…
So after Wekfest Norcal ended, I had just a couple of days to prep for my trip to New Jersey. Packing wasn’t really an issue. It was a matter of getting all the photos edited and up for viewing here on the site. The longer I take to post coverage, the later it gets and people may have already seen the coverage elsewhere. For Wekfest San Jose, I kind of expected it since there was so much media coverage, but I still try to do coverage my own way because I think people come to this site for a reason. You can see photos any and everywhere but it is the ability to tell the story which matters most. I want to give you guys a feel of what it was like through my eyes and I try to cover as much of my journeys as I can. I’ll be honest, with all these events I go to now, I’ve cut the coverage down considerably to streamline the site. I used to take photos of EVERYTHING and while I know many of you like that, I trim some of it down because its tough to keep people’s attention for a 10-part series documenting just one event. I still keep the Japan stuff pretty detailed because many don’t get to experience Japan and it matters to people to see everything that goes on there…
For my trip to the East Coast, I also try to keep it detailed because a lot of enthusiasts from the West rarely get a glimpse into the East Coast car scene. There are a ton of events out here in the West so you never really miss out on anything. People throughout the country are generally pretty familiar with all the great builds out here because we have a ton of events for the cars to be showcased. In the East, events aren’t nearly as common as because of the weather, you don’t see many of these cars very often. There are some builds that don’t even make it out the entire year until Wekfest hits because it is that important of an event for them. My favorite part of covering the Wekfest East event is actually detailing the cars outside of the show during the roll-in process. The parking lot outside of the New Jersey Convention Center is huge so it allows for some great photos. Covering the event inside is cool too but after awhile, it gets a little repetitive because the walls of the convention center just don’t compare to the sunrise and skies outside. You’ll see today (as you did last year) that a bulk of my photos are from the morning of the show. You rarely get to see most of these cars anyways, so you might as well look at them both inside and out…
One of my favorite things about traveling to these automotive events is all the non-car related stuff that happens before and after the event. Many of the guys and gals on the Wekfest staff are foodies like me and thoroughly enjoy eating great photos in all the major cities. Exploring and sightseeing is also fun and it just adds to the allure of going on the Wekfest tour. I’m sure you guys know by now that I rarely just document car stuff. I love to travel so I also try to capture my adventures everywhere. A trip to New Jersey means that New York City isn’t too far away and being in the NYC means that there is good food to be had. Unlike last year, we even explored Jersey this time around and got to see what NJ had to offer….
I arrived in New Jersey the Friday of the show. The rest of the staff was coming from Norcal so I had my own flight that arrived around the same time as their’s. We gathered, hopped into our rental cars and headed over to the hotel to drop off our luggage. Some of the guys stayed behind to rest up for the weekend but there is always a small group of us that wants to go out and explore. It was early enough for us to still drive into New York City so we headed to the city to grab dinner…
Ken from Wekfest is a big foodie so he knew all the good spots to hit. We drove over to the Lower East Side of NYC to try out “Baohaus” for the first time. For those unaware, Baohaus is a Taiwanese/Chinese restaurant opened by Eddie Huang. Huang is a pretty well-known Asian-American personality who was actually once a lawyer before deciding to take a career-change into the restaurant business. He grew up in the restaurant business and was interested in food because of his mother. Baohaus serves up really traditional Taiwanese/Chinese food that has been sort of re-invented for modern day foodies. The environment inside Baohaus is unlike any other spot that would serve this type of food and it has a very urban feel to it that fits NYC….
Baohaus is a very small location at just 400 sq-ft but is famous for what you see above, which is a steamed bun known as a “bao”. Inside this bao is a variety of different things, depending on what you want to order. Baohaus has interesting names for each of their dishes like “Chairman Bao” and “Uncle Jesse Bao”. Each are different in their own way but what they are known for here at Baohaus is the fatty Berkshire pork belly that you pictured. For me, it isn’t anything out of the ordinary because I grew up in a very traditional Chinese household where we got to eat this stuff regularly. It was interesting to see how much hoopla there was about it though and how something so simple had turned into a food phenomenon in New York. The food was delicious and kept simple purposely so that it wasn’t too confusing for foodies who hadn’t had this style of food before. It was good, I gotta admit. I loved the whole environment and how they tried to make simple Taiwanese/Chinese food urban. This is stuff that old people would usually eat so to be able to transform it into something cool is pretty awesome….
Besides the meat-filled steamed buns, they also had traditional rice boxes with similar ingredients in them. These are the types of lunch boxes that you’d see Asians eating everyday overseas. Just a rice plate filled with braised pork with a side of veggies, which in this case here at Baohaus, are pickled….
I got the Chairman Bao which is pictured above and this box, dubbed the “Manager’s Special”, which is filled with braised pork belly and “Birdhaus” fried chicken. It was good. Again, not anything untypical for me but I really enjoy this style of food so my appetite fit right into Baohaus…
After we finished eating, we walked around the Lower East Side and just explored the nightlife. We stopped by for a drink at a local bar and then headed back to Jersey to get some sleep. The next day, we decided to stay in New Jersey for the afternoon because we had a walk-through of the show venue at around 4pm…
We heard of some great spots to eat at in Jersey City and one of them was the “BBQ at Legal Beans”….
The name and locale seems a little peculiar but it is a restaurant known specifically for their Cebu-style Lechon. “Lechon”, for those not in the know, is roasted suckling-pig. It is originally a Spanish-style of food that made its way over to the Philippines and the rest of Asia…
I thought Legal Beans was some sort of coffee place or something at first because, well, you wouldn’t think that a place called “Legal Beans” wouldn’t be a coffee place. The only giveaway that it was a barbecue spot was the giant “BBQ” letters outside and the sweet smell of smoking pork that flooded the senses upon entering. Directly inside was a stove with two huge pigs being cooked rotisserie-style….
What they were also very well-known for was their BBQ ribs. One order gives you a full rack that looks like it is enough for a party of three…
The meal looked intimidating in size but also the potential to ruin my boy Aaron’s mustache was great….
I ordered the Lechon plate with a side of Spanish rice. This, by far, was probably my favorite meal of the trip. I still get incredibly hungry every time I look at the photo above. The Lechon was fantastic and was complimented perfectly with the rice…
I got a huge piece of the rib part of the pig which was very savory and delicious. The best part of the Lechon is a crispy layer of skin on the outside. Lechon just isn’t Lechon without the skin and it was on point that day…My god I’m getting hungry just looking back now at these photos….
After lunch we decided to head back to the hotel before going through the venue walk-through. When we arrived, we saw everyone at the hotel standing outside with fire trucks filling the lot. Apparently some lady had hung her dress on the emergency sprinkler inside her room and had tugged on the dress so hard that it broke the sprinkler open. Then one of the pipes burst and it flooded a huge section of the hotel from the 3rd and 4th floor. You never think anyone would actually hang something on the sprinkler because it clearly says not to do so, but people are fucking dumb and they do it anyway. And then the entire hotel gets flooded and everyone has to evacuate for hours until the fire department can allow anyone back inside. I didn’t take very many photos of this but it was BAD. Some of our guys even had to be moved from their rooms because the flooding was so bad that they had no power in their rooms and the ceiling was dripping….
My room was fine as was many of the others in our group, so we headed out to go kill some time since we weren’t allowed back into the hotel anyway….
I’ve been to the East Coast many times but one of the landmarks that I had never visited was the “Empty Sky” 9/11 Memorial located in New Jersey. Our group wanted to go check it out and get some photos for the Wekfest blog, so we headed over there. I didn’t even know this place really existed but I’m happy that I got to witness it because it was an incredible sight…
Empty Sky is known for these two walls, which symbolize the World Trade Center towers. On the walls are the names of every victim lost during 9/11….
Walking in-between the two walls was a pretty remarkable feeling. With the sun setting against the New York skyline, it also made for some incredible visuals…..
On the other side of the water was New York City. Here you can also see the newly-built Freedom Tower, which is the 9/11 Memorial on the NYC-side. This is where the World Trade Center towers once stood….
Ken from Wekfest capturing the NYC skyline on his phone….
Another angle of the Freedom Tower in the distance….
“Turn to clear vision”….
Land of the free, home of the brave….
Wekfest staffers Steph and Aaron taking in the NY skyline….
Empty Sky was yet another great memory for the books…
We ate Korean BBQ for dinner but I eat that all the time so it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me to document. I figured you guys might want to get into some car stuff by now so let’s skip ahead over to the morning of Wekfest East. It’s optional for me to show up really early to the show, since I was technically just the car show judge, but I always go with the staff early so that I can get shots of the cars rolling into the venue. As I mentioned earlier, the roll-in shots are way more interesting than the actual show itself. I mean, you can only look at cars inside a convention center so many times before it gets sort of repetitive, right? Why not try to catch a glimpse of these cars in their normal habitat outside with the rising sun….
The Varis Arising widebody Subaru BRZ that you guys were introduced to at last year’s Wekfest East event, though at that time it wasn’t painted in yellow yet….
This matte blue Scion FR-S featured gold Volk TE37SL wheels along with a Rotrex supercharger….
Widebody GC8 Subaru Impreza coupe on black Volk TEs….
Really liked how this BMW F10 M5 looked on Work Gnosis CV201….
The bronze finish on the orange brakes against the matte white body was a perfect combination….
Got to see this Civic on Work Meisters last year. Glad to see it still looks the same….
Rick Gonzalez’s Subaru WRX STI also hasn’t changed much since I had seen it last year….
Pretty cool to see the new Subaru WRX STI at Wekfest East. I don’t recall seeing one modded yet out in Cali….
A couple more of the yellow Varis widebody Subaru….
One of the cleanest builds at Wekfest East was definitely this Honda F20C-powered AE86 on refinished SSR Longchamp XR4s….
Powerhouse Amuse-kitted Nissan 370Z….
Another Z34, this one on Work VS-XX in a silver, step-lipped finish…
Loving the Advan RGIII wheels on this brand new Subaru WRX STI….
Nice touch with the “WIDELOAD” vanity plate. I wonder if this purple is the same as the Midnight Purple found on the Nissan Skylines….
One of the more unexpected builds to pop-up at Wekfest East was this IS300 owned by Faiz Rahman. It isn’t quite finished yet but the aggressive rear-end and the chassis-mounted rear spoiler really captured the attention of everyone there at the early morning roll-in. Love the dimple-dyed brackets for the rear diffuser and the center-exit exhaust….
Another angle. The front/rear fender flares really added to the aggressiveness of the body. More of this build later in the coverage….
Awesome to see an FD RX-7 with full RE Amemiya aero on it, complete with Enkei wheels to match. Amemiya is known to always run Enkei wheels on on his builds so the owner nailed the execution of this build….
Midnight Purple R34 Skyline GT-R on Volk TE37SL. Here you can see the slight color-shift on the purple tone….
One really cool thing about Wekfest East is the abundance of Skylines that show-up. You’d be really hard-pressed to find any R34 GTRs out on the West Coast these days since the government cracked down on them so hard a couple years ago. You see more Skylines out East because they usually get filtered in through Canada….
BMW M3 coupe on custom matte-red Work Meister S1 3-piece wheels….
It never hurts to see a nice, clean, subtle FD….
Bagged WRX STI on cream white Work Seeker FX wheels….
J’s Racing-equipped AP2 S2000 complete with J’s front fenders and rear over fenders….
Rob from VRaceWorks’ turbocharged EM1 coupe on gold-plated custom Mugen M7s….
Bradly Lafayette’s full-carbon J’s Racing GT widebody JDM S2000 VGS. As you can tell, by this point in the morning, it started to rain a bit….
Adam Holt’s freshly repainted Acura Integra Type R with J’s Racing front lip, fenders, and rear spoiler….
Sebastian Rodriguez’s Imola Yellow Civic with First Molding Flugel Plate and Kosei K1 wheels. Rear spoiler is a OsakaJDM rear duckbill…
Really liked this bagged VW Jetta on Work S1….
Gonna wrap it up here for now. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at what was going on inside the building during the set-up phase of Wekfest East. Thanks for looking guys and stay tuned for MUCH more….