September 11, 2002
Arts and Entertainment
by dan leone
YOU'RE WONDERING ABOUT my new chickens. Admit it. Well, they're still alive, and they have a pretty good sense of humor, and I ought to have eggs out of them before the end of the month at the risk of counting my eggs before they are laid. But I don't know if the yolks will be as bright orange as before, because I hear that's a function of free-ranginess. My new chickens are free rangers (by a mile, by the book), but they don't have that rambunctious sense of adventure that my old chickens had. Every morning I open their door to the big yard and instead of knocking me over on their way past, like the old girls did (may they rest in pieces), these ones just stand there like chickens with their heads still on, looking at me like I'm crazy.
I'm not, by the way. I just happen to believe in liberty and the pursuit of green grass and juicy bugs and sunshine and shade. I believe that if every yard in the world had four or five unfettered chickens running around in it, there would be no wars. Everyone would be laughing and/or mesmerized and/or looking for eggs, not to mention chasing off coyotes and raccoons and whatnot. In other words: freedom and equality and exercise, peace, prosperity, and very, very orange egg yolks ... My old chickens shared these freedom-loving philosophies with me, and now, yeah, they're dead because of it, but at least they made a run for the money, saw themselves some World out there, and went around and about looking for more. They were brave and noble freedom fighters.
The new chickens are fine, since you asked. They're cute and healthy and well behaved. Might even be intelligent, for chickens. But if they don't start stretching out and flexing their free-range fannies, I'm going to have to chase them around myself, maybe show one to the frying pan, give the fucking pinko communist sympathizers a little something to think about, philosophically speaking.
Oh, hey, speaking of philosophy, it's football season already, in case you didn't notice. I almost didn't, since we don't get no TV reception or newspapers or high-speed Internet access or nothing up here in chicken country. So in lieu of my usual well-informed special Cheap Eats NFL Preview issue, I will say this: Go Niners!
I'll be listening on the radio, and you city slickers can keep your fancy-fangled cable antennas and running water. What we've got that you don't is dollar sushi. That's right, right in downtown Sebastopol every Wednesday and Saturday. The name of the place is Sushi Hana, and you don't want to go there on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, or Sunday or maybe you do, but it won't be cheap eats, so leave me out of it.
On dollar sushi days, though, you can get a lot of kinds of sushi, including saba (mackerel), my favorite, for a buck apiece, and a lot of other kinds for $1.25. Including hamachi (yellowtail), and whatever the word is for halibut.
We go there at least once a week, if not every other week, Crawdad and me, and usually I just get 10 pieces of saba, call it a meal ($10). But yesterday, since I reckoned I'd write about it this time, I reckoned I'd try some other things, too, in the interest of potentially having something to say. (Don't get your hopes up.)
A lot of the $1 ones are not even fish, like avocado, asparagus, mushrooms, and spinach. Crab cake, but you never know about crab cake: sometimes there might actually be crab involved. In any case, I got all the other ones: tako (octopus), ika (squid), ebi (shrimp), saba (of course), and conch, which they describe as "mussel." The octopus and the squid had interestingly opposite textures (very chewy and very soft), both of which I liked, even though they didn't taste like much. The shrimp tasted like shrimp, which was good, and the conch tasted like a peeled raw potato marinated in pure yuckiness. It wasn't a mussel, in any sense in which I am familiar with mussels. I love mussels.
I also coughed up the extra quarters for $1.25 pieces of yellowtail and halibut, and those were just fine, but it was still the saba that stole the show. Then I found out something I wish I didn't know: saba isn't raw. It's pickled! At least at Hana it is, and since it tastes about the same there as everywhere else, I can only assume the worst: my favorite kind of sushi is not raw fish.
Excuse me while I die of embarrassment.
Sushi Hana. 6930 Burnett (at Petaluma), Sebastopol. (707) 823-3778. Sun.-Thurs., noon-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., noon-9:30 p.m. Takeout available. Beer and wine. American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa. Wheelchair accessible.
Dan Leone is the author of Eat This, San Francisco (Sasquatch Books), a collection of Cheap Eats restaurant reviews, and The Meaning of Lunch (Mammoth Books).