February 16, 11:24 AM (PT)
By The Salmon
1013 Bath St
Santa Barbara, CA
Note: for this review, critics were instructed by Edhat to order an Ocean Salad.
A bootleg Steely Dan album from Japan seemed like the appropriate soundtrack for my drive over to the Sushi Teri. A “rockstar” parking place opened up right out on Bath Street and I swung the Cadillac into position. I had never been here in the daylight, but the little swinging lanterns brought back the memory of the last time. Her name was Andrea. 1997. She let go of The Salmon that night. My first time being deposited by the opposite sex since high school. Andrea was a singer, on her way to the top. She had yoga, I had beer. She had cash, and I had checks. Like a candle that burns at both ends, it didn’t last the night, but for a while it did cast a brilliant light.
The spools of the tape player creaked and I looked up to see a Buick pull in behind me. I recognized the occupants, but not the green paint that covered most of the windows with satanic messages. There was your usual pentacle, the three sixes, and something about my mother. The doors opened and my pony-tailed attorney and his equally longhaired son, affectionately known as The Manta, climbed out. I just stared at the car.
“What?” The Lawyer asked. I gestured at the Buick, searching for words that would carry the right amount of sarcasm and genuine befuddlement.
“Oh, the car got vandalized in Ventura last night.” This was said in the same way one might indicate that they were going to get a haircut after lunch. I let it pass and we went inside.
The festive interior has that same wood paneling so popular in the basement game rooms of East Coast homes. The only table wide enough to accommodate our six-foot frames was snuggled between the door to the kitchen and the draped entryway of the bathroom, affording us an excellent view of the waiter traffic and lavatory patronage.
For reasons unexplained, I was issued the edict from Edhat senior management to order the “Ocean Salad.” As you can imagine,I had some expectations, given the name. For one, I assumed that there would be some sort of seafood involved. Wrong. I also envisioned this salad would be of substantial size. Also incorrect.
Still, the salad was interesting, although more Norwegian than Japanese, I felt. It had a gelatinous coating that made me think of whales and insulation. I was later informed by the waiter that this was, in fact, seaweed. The Manta reminded me how “white” I can be sometimes.
Sushi restaurants love to display the menu in multiple places and Sushi Teri does not stray from this tradition. The entire menu is printed on sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and taped to the walls, one must assume to keep the decorating costs down. It also seems that the zanier the font, the better. For the nearsighted, the table is adorned with tent cards, three laminated menus, and those strange little golf scorecards with the tiny pencils. We found it better to leave it up to the chef.
Platters of rolls arrived and each was met with a favorable reaction. The Lawyer passed on the uncooked fish and opted for a Teriyaki Chicken Bowl. The Alaska Roll, Spicy Shrimp Roll and California Roll led to a spirited debate about whether mayonnaise occurs naturally in Japan or if missionaries introduced the creamy condiment to the archipelago.
Eventually we signaled the waiter to cut us off and the check arrived. I had forgotten to pick up my Edhat voucher, but the tab was reasonable in comparison to other local raw-fish-wrapped-in-rice joints. Sushi pricing in Santa Barbara seems to be standardized, like OPEC. We waved goodbye to The Lawyer and watched him drive off in his devil ride, then, feeling a little unsatisfied and overly thirsty, The Manta and I went back in for a Sapporo and some green tea ice cream to settle the soul.
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