Update 1/6/13: I’ve been back since the grand opening and things have definitely gotten smoother. No more confusion and a lot of staff on hand to help you out, guide you to your seats, help you buy tickets if you haven’t bought them. It’s a little pricier than some other theaters around, especially since you can’t get discounted tickets at Costco, but I do like that I can choose and reserve my seats online (plus save $1 off ticket online) and the seats are super comfy which is great for long movies.

Arclight Cinema, a fancy pants theater originally from Hollywood, has made its way to San Diego, opening its first location inside the newly renovated UTC Mall. While this post isn’t really food-centric, I was curious enough about this theater to check it out recently and thought others might be interested too.

DH and I have been closely watching the renovations of the new UTC Mall, which is set to have a new grand opening this Thursday, complete with red carpet event. UTC Mall is a place we frequented as students and we were around to see the proposed plans years ago, so it’s been fun seeing it finally come to life.

A few months ago, we noticed they were building a movie theater inside, which got me really excited. When I saw the sign “Arclight,” I was pretty confused. After some google research, I found out that it was from Los Angeles, but couldn’t find as many details as I would have liked, or why the heck tickets cost a whopping $11.75 per person (hence my calling this a “fancy pants” theater).

(How cool is this montage of all the Bond movies?)

We had been planning on seeing Skyfall anyway, and thought we’d try it out at the new theater, paying the extra couple of bucks per ticket. We did buy our tickets online, which I highly recommend. If you sign up for their free membership, you save $1 off each ticket, and you get to choose your seats ahead of time.

Some of the things that sets Arclight apart and why they charge so much are as follows:

1. Reserved seats- I have to admit, this was the biggest draw for me. No more waiting in long lines hours before a popular movie. You can buy your tickets online, choose your seats, and just show up minutes before the movie begins. In Taiwan, the movie theaters all use this system, but Arclight is the first theater I’ve seen use it in the US. I wish more theaters did this.

2. Bigger seats- I used to be able to do movie marathons, but I’ve noticed in the last few years, I can barely sit through one movie. I get uncomfortable and fidgety. The seats here are visually larger and wider than the other theaters in San Diego and more comfortable. I didn’t fidget once during my movie experience and I was so comfortable I could have fallen asleep.

Below is a photo I took of all the space I had left on my seat after sitting down, which I used for my bag.

3. Alcohol allowed- There are several  bar areas inside the complex and there are even some screenings that are “21+ screenings,” meaning you can bring your alcohol beverage into the theater too.

4. No commercials- Most movie theaters play a few minutes of commercials before rolling the movie trailers, but Arclight skips the commercials altogether.

Now those are the big highlights. So how did our actual experience turn out?

One Hour Dinner Rolls

I wanted to try out one more dinner roll recipe before deciding which one will be making my Thanksgiving Day menu.

I’m always ready to try bread recipes that are ready in less time because I don’t have the patience for long recipes. So when I saw this one hour dinner roll recipe, I knew I had to try it out.

For two years I’ve been begging and hoping for San Diego to offer shaved snow ice, a form of shaved ice that is fluffier than regular shaved ice due to the milk added to the ice blocks. And now suddenly it’s everywhere. I’m loving all the options, though I think it’s weird that they are all popping up at once.

I didn’t think I’d be back to Angel & Hearts after a mediocre experience with their Harajuku-style crepes. But then I got a tip from Jinxi that Angels and Hearts was serving snow ice, so I went back to check it out.

Sure enough, there was a big sign on the door showing the snow fluff ice. One thing we noticed immediately when we went inside is that their snow ice machine is imported from Taiwan, as opposed to the other new snow shaved ice places which are using a brand distributor in southern California.

There are currently four flavors to choose from: original, taro, green tea and mango. The snow ice is $4 and includes a dollop of whipped cream (which I’ve never seen used with snow ice) and a few popping pearls. If you want to add condensed milk or other sauces it’s an additional 30 cents, and if you want to add some fruit toppings, it’s an additional 60 cents per topping.

Taro Snow Ice with Condensed Milk

I love how beautifully the snow ribboned into the cup. This is how snow ice should look. The ribbons were so thin and delicate. I was prepared not to like the snow ice here, but I have to say, this was the best taro flavored snow ice I’ve tried both in terms of flavor and texture. The texture was even softer than Yogurt Swirl, whose snow ice I was already pretty happy with and the flavor wasn’t too artificial tasting, which sometimes can happen with taro.

I was surprised at how great the texture was. DH’s theory is that the shaved ice machine makes a difference and he thinks it was better because they used the Taiwan machine.